You’ve heard it before and I’m guessing you’ll hear it many times in the future: The autumn months are a great time to go fishing, for a wide variety of fish. However, for many anglers across the Midwest, autumn is the time to chase walleyes. Spring and summer can be very good, but autumn can be great, and not as many folks are fishing in the fall. Maybe that’s why walleye fishing will be so good in the next few weeks. Fewer anglers means less angling pressure, and less angling pressure means the fish are less spooky and more eager to bite. Here’s how you can take advantage of that eagerness.
Many anglers, I’m one of them, have had their most memorable walleye catches in October and early November. The biggest walleyes I’ve caught have come in the autumn, and the highest daily catches have also occurred when the leaves where bright and the waters were almost devoid of anglers. You can also catch’em when the leaves have left the trees.
If I was limited to one lure presentation to use in the fall, it would be a Fire-Ball jig. This jig has a short-shanked hook that has a wide gap. The wide gap aids in hooking, but also permits a larger minnow to be attached, and larger minnows in the fall catch larger walleyes. A three to four inch redtail is the way to go for numbers of fish, but if you are interested in a big walleye, go with a 6-inch redtail. A big redtail on a Fire-Ball jig is a walleye delicacy.
In the fall, walleyes can be found almost anywhere. I had one memorable fall day catching walleye after walleye on a windblown shoreline in two feet of water. However, I’ve had more memorable days vertical jigging them in water deeper than twenty feet. Sonar is the key here. Use sonar to find the fish on deep structures, then hover over them. Put the jig right in their face and you’ll get bit. The aSeries sonar units from Raymarine enable an angler to look at the bottom a couple of different ways, so you can tune the unit to a mode that best reveals bottom hugging walleyes. I use one of the aSeries units with a smaller screen, but the smaller screen still provides an incredible picture.
Use line that will provide outstanding feel in the deep water. More and more, anglers are using braid as their main line, then tying a two foot length of fluorocarbon to the end of the braid, then tying the jig to the fluorocarbon. The braid is super sensitive and provides great hooksets in deep water, and the fluorocarbon is next to invisible, so finicky walleye aren’t spooked. P-Line XTCB braid in 15 pound test with an 8-pound test Tactical fluorocarbon leader is as good as it gets for this application.
Fall is a fantastic time to be outside, and is equally fantastic for chasing walleyes. If you get the time, be sure to take advantage of it. If you don’t get the time, make the time to chase walleyes in the fall. If things work out, you’ll be glad you did.