Best in years? Excellent fishing pattern developing for fall walleyes in 2014
I’m very excited about fall fishing opportunities this year. We had a late spring, a cool summer, and September’s weather has been transitioning into autumn faster than we’ve seen in years. Fish encountered fewer anglers on the water this summer, and waters temperatures are plunging fast. Turnover occurs at 57 degrees, and I’ll be surprised if that doesn’t occur before the end of September. That means October will be an absolutely prime month for fishing.
So often we hear that fish feed to bulk up for winter. That’s not necessarily true since walleyes feed all winter long. I believe the reason walleyes have the feedbag on right now is because there’s an abundance of food. Nature’s bounty has produced a great run of shiners and other forage, and the walleyes respond by feeding heavily.
So where are the fish? Logical fall walleye locations include edges of hard-bottomed areas, plus rocks and reefs. Any feeding flat will hold forage and walleyes will follow even during daylight hours.
You’ll find me casting crankbaits early in the day into the green weeds. Those weeds, by the way, are less thick in 2014 thanks to the late spring and cooler summer.
Locate cabbage and coontail beds in 8 to 12 feet of water and work them.
After crankbaits, skirt those weedlines with live bait rigs and minnows, especially red-tailed chubs and shiners. (The bait will vary on each lake. In central to northern lakes, redtails are a preferred food source in the fall.) I also find in fall that predator fish are more tolerant of larger profile baits.
Other top techniques include slip-bobbers (especially if you see fish in the weeds) and the always versatile jig and minnow. If you can find leeches, use them under a slip-bobber. Tip jigs with more bulk and profile in the fall, and try different colors. I like pink and green in fall, but it really varies on different bodies of water.
Anglers always ask me about the correct jig size, and I tell them: Use whatever size jig keeps you in contact with the bottom. For me, that’s usually 1/16 to 1/8 ounces.
Finally, when jigging fall walleyes, especially in darker water, consider a dressing to add as an attractor. And if walleyes are hitting higher in the water column, use a smaller, lighter jig.