In October into November, we usually see gentle strain on many A-list fall walleye fisheries, regardless that a few of the yr’s most interesting fishing awaits. Their heads crammed with visions of whitetails, waterfowl, and goals of the hardwater season forward, savvy walleye seekers overlook alternatives to catch numbers of fish, together with a shot at fall-fattened giants. Lest you lose concentrate on the ‘eyes of fall, we provide a sampling of occurring bites courtesy of stellar sticks scattered throughout the walleye nation. Whether or not you are inside putting distance of those notable sizzling spots, or apply the patterns that work on them to your house waters, they are often your information to your finest autumn ever.

Keystone Bounty

On the east finish of the Walleye Belt, alongside the New York-Pennsylvania line, veteran walleye angler Doug Yohe savors the autumn season, which he says presents an opportunity at wind-milling 40 or extra hungry ‘eyes per journey on Allegheny Reservoir. Now retired, Yohe travels far and extensive, monitoring down prime finishes on match trails just like the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit and Nationwide Walleye Tour. He returns to Allegheny every autumn to pattern the motion. Often known as Kinzua, the impoundment options 92 miles of shoreline ripe for trolling and pitching, however Yohe focuses on offshore spots on the lake’s north finish, the place the Allegheny River flows in and transitions into nonetheless water.

“Steep-breaking river channel edges are the place it is at,” he says. “Walleyes to 5 kilos are widespread, and trophies are all the time a risk. The lake produced the 17-pound 9-ounce Pennsylvania state report.”

Yohe makes use of his Lowrance HDS electronics to pinpoint prime lies alongside the channel, generally in depths of 25 to 30 toes. “Water ranges drop as much as 20 toes in fall,” he says. “So areas that had been a bit too deep earlier are good habitat.”


Yohe’s go-to tactic is easy but lethal. “I flutter a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce white hair jig tipped with a fathead minnow inside a foot to 18 inches of backside,” he says. “Most fish hit on the autumn, so a braid mainline like Sufix 832 is essential to detecting the sharp tick when a walleye inhales the jig.” He notes {that a} 2-foot fluorocarbon chief reduces line visibility, and a 7-foot spinning rod wields the presentation with ease.

Erie ‘Eyes

A brief forged west, Lake Erie’s monster magnate Ross Robertson says the autumn chunk is all concerning the meals. “Erie has hundreds of thousands of walleyes, in order that they’re caught from Michigan waters east,” he says. “However the bulk of the most important fish comply with migratory baitfish, and meaning keying on gizzard shad, white bass, smelt, and emerald shiners.”

Captain Ross Robertson says Lake Erie’s fall chunk is predicated on baitfish abundance and water temperature—the hotter the higher.

As water temperatures drop from summer season highs to the low-40°F vary, Robertson savors the slice of paradise from the Ohio ports of Sandusky to Vermilion, and facilities his crosshairs on the hotbed of exercise round Huron. “It is principally a giant bowl of water a bit hotter than the remainder of the lake, and it attracts all types of forage,” he says.

Trolling techniques rule, with crawler harnesses giving approach to spoons and crankbaits via the autumn development. Likewise, the motion strikes larger within the water column as winter attracts close to, from deep within the abyss in early fall to inside 20 toes or much less of the floor by November. Reef Runner Ripsticks, Ripshads, and Rapala Husky Jerks rank excessive on Robertson’s listing, and he notes that suspending baits and sluggish trolling speeds right down to .8 mph excel within the closing phases of the open-water season.

Lake Michigan & Extra

A few of autumn’s finest bites happen as soon as darkness falls. Famous big-water information and match competitor Jason Muche works the night time shift on the fish-rich reefs out of northern Lake Michigan’s walleye mecca of Escanaba, catching giants within the 10- to 12-pound class. 

“From the time the setting solar hits the bushes till midnight, trolling stickbaits like Smithwick’s Suspending Rattlin’ Rogues at speeds of 1.5 to 1.8 mph is an effective way to catch large fish,” he says. “Begin with divers alongside reef edges in 16 to 17 toes, then pull shallow runners over the tops in 6 to 9 toes because the night time progresses.”

Muche’s setup contains 10-pound mono mainline, planer boards stoked with glow sticks or reflective tape, and a #2 break up shot simply forward of a barrel swivel, positioned about 6 toes from the bait. “Lighted or reflective boards allow you to observe your unfold, and permit different anglers to see them as effectively,” he says, explaining that widespread night time spots can bristle with boats, and wayward boards have led to spirited altercations. “Set your drag so it barely retains the board from taking line,” he says. “This helps forestall trophy walleyes from ripping hooks free and serves as a fish alarm as effectively.”

By day, he recommends trolling crawler harnesses behind 1- to 2-ounce backside bouncers in depths of as much as 30 toes adjoining to reefs. “The day chunk is hard until a powerful south wind dirties the water—during which case reefs round tributaries just like the Bark River may be sizzling,” he says. “In clear situations, deep trolling is an effective approach to catch numbers of 15- to 22-inch fish. I exploit a Lindy Crawler Harness with a smaller blade, like a #4 Colorado, in Purple Smelt or Tullibee patterns.”

On inland programs like Wisconsin’s storied Winnebago Chain—the place Muche additionally guides—he says an enormous fall run of 15- to 18-inch male walleyes floods holes from the mouth of the Wolf River at Lake Poygan as much as Fremont and New London, producing an missed bonanza. “It is a few of the finest fishing no one does,” he says. “Walleyes stack up in 20- to 25-foot holes, and the motion lasts via ice-up.” 

Muche’s weapon of alternative for the river chunk is a 1/4-ounce leadhead tipped with a minnow. “I like a regular Lindy Jig with chartreuse combined with inexperienced or orange,” he says. “Hook the minnow via the mouth and out one of many gills. Slide the minnow up in opposition to the jighead, after which run the purpose from the underside alongside the backbone and out simply behind the dorsal fin. This retains it on the jig and acts like a modified stinger hook.”

Conservative jig strokes are key. “Preserve it delicate—no snapping,” he advises. “Drop to the underside, elevate it 3 or 4 inches, faucet backside, and lift it once more. Gradual and regular wins the race.” He favors a 20-pound superline mainline capped by an 18-inch fluorocarbon chief affixed with a small barrel swivel to banish twist. To totally fish a gap, he makes use of his bowmount trolling motor to slide down-current alongside the break. “If that does not work, jig proper down the center,” he says.

Massive Water Minnesota

On Minnesota’s famed 130,000-acre Mille Lacs Lake, veteran information Jon Thelen highlights a late trolling sample pushed by walleyes shifting shallow towards the top of the open-water interval. “It is one of the missed bites round,” he says. In a typical autumn, water temperatures falling into the high-40ºF vary spur a daytime feeding binge alongside prime rock and gravel shorelines that host ample forage starting from minnows and juvenile panfish to spawning tullibees.

Since walleyes usually are scattered throughout lengthy stretches of construction, he prefers trolling crankbaits. “Deep-bodied, tight-wobbling baits with a little bit of flash are prime picks,” he says, noting that the Lindy Shadling is his favourite. “Curved, banana-style baits like Lindy’s River Rocker additionally take bank-running walleyes,” he says. “They provide a special motion and stand out from colleges of baitfish.”

Thelen deploys cranks on 8- to 10-foot trolling rods spooled with 10-pound mono, tipped with a snap. “Line-counter reels allow you to duplicate productive letbacks. However in water this shallow, customary spinning outfits are tremendous, too,” he says. After paying out 120 to 150 toes of line till his lure bottoms out, he reels in a number of cranks and begins a nonstop collection of rips and pauses that add additional motion to the lure. 

One other of Thelen’s favourite fall patterns in lots of midwestern waters hinges on wind and waves concentrating baitfish and walleyes in shallow water on hard-bottom factors with easy accessibility to deep water on each side of the construction. 

“By monitoring wind forecasts, it is potential to plan a run of potential factors upfront of a visit,” he says. “Lots of people fish solely the entrance face, or upwind aspect of a construction. However I break factors into 4 zones. And as with walleyes on wing dams in rivers, there are occasions lake fish desire holding in a single zone over one other.” He finds the recent zone quick by easing in from upwind, then working the entrance, tip, prime, and downwind aspect of the purpose. 

He drifts 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jig-and-softbait combos sweetened with a skull-hooked 3-inch rainbow chub or shiner minnow. “The plastic our bodies on jigs like a Lindy Watsit or Fuzz-E-Grub add bulk and the tails increase motion,” he says. In contrast to Muche’s muted jig strokes, Thelen takes an animated tack, snapping the jig 18 inches off backside with a pointy rip of the rod tip, then letting it pendulum again down on a semi-tight line. “An excessive amount of slack and you will not see or really feel strikes,” he cautions.

Utilizing a driftsock to sluggish his tempo if want be, and his bowmount to hint particular depths, he drifts level edges together with his jig trailing far sufficient behind the boat so his line extends at a 45-degree angle to the floor of the water. “Most of the factors I fish prime out round 4 toes deep, so I cowl these areas with casts,” he provides. 

Buck Assault

Longtime In-Fisherman good friend and walleye fanatic Chip Leer reminds us that the Winnipeg River under the Pine Falls dam ranks excessive among the many continent’s prime spots to boat a fall behemoth. “Half the folks I do know have caught the most important walleye of their lives on this chunk,” he says. Certainly, dollars flooding in from the primary lake provide glorious odds at private bests. 

In-Fisherman good friend Chip Leer hoists a pair of Winnipeg River dandies.

Leer’s go-to tactic is anchoring alongside the river channel in depths of 10 to 25 toes, which might differ from everyday, and vertical jigging a 1/2-ounce Northland RZ Jig or 3/8-ounce Slurp! Jig Head tipped with a salted shiner or softbait similar to Northland’s 4-inch Impulse Smelt Minnow. Jig strokes are restricted to sluggish lifts of a pair inches, permitting the fish to residence in on the bait within the milky water.

“The chunk is attention-grabbing,” he says. “Just a few fish crack it. However most mouth it. You are feeling them transfer the bait round, and when the mouthing stops, set the hook. Typically you wait and wait, they usually by no means totally inhale it.”

On his residence waters of Minnesota’s Leech Lake, Leer appears to deep humps topping out 20 to 40 toes beneath the floor in Walker Bay. “The final three to 4 weeks of open water, the deep chunk produces a few of the largest fish of the yr,” he says.

“It is principally ice fishing in a ship. Arrange early to hit a 30- to 45-minute interval throughout sundown when the fish go loopy. You should utilize a ball-head jig tipped with a minnow, however I like swimming jigs like Northland’s Puppet Minnow and jigging spoons just like the Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon or Minnow-Head Hook. I by no means use meat, simply small soft-plastic heads.” In contrast to the sluggish strokes of the Winnipeg River, he favors a vigorous snapjigging cadence to name fish from a distance. 

On the Defend

In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange has fished a lot of the walleye waters we have talked about right here after which some, together with Canadian Defend waters like Wet Lake. Massive waters like Wet have big shallow-backwater areas that maintain quite a few baitfish species for a lot of the season. Because the water temperature drops from the 50°F vary into the upper-40°F vary, these baitfish exit the shallows and transfer towards the primary lake.

“Most of those areas should not immediately linked to the primary lake, however they’re shut. Search for necked-down areas fashioned by rock factors and islands, usually with water 10 to twenty toes deep, at or close to the mouth of these shallow backwaters,” he says. “These are ambush factors for predators, each large pike and large walleyes and generally smallmouth bass. However this is usually a tentative sample, particularly when chilly climate units in early and harshly and baitfish exit rapidly, normally by mid-October.”

In-Fisherman Editor in Chief Doug Stange shifts to deeper construction when water temperatures plummet on Defend Lakes.

“If the sample’s workable, you all the time see baitfish in these areas, suspended within the water column, together with your electronics. No baitfish, no predators. I like paddletail swimbaits just like the Berkley’s 5-inch Hole Stomach or 5-inch Flatback Shad on a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce Saltwater Bullet Head from Kalin’s or Proprietor. One other terrific choice is the Berkley Rib Shad (5 inches), which has been a killer for large walleyes since they launched it.”

A extra predictable sample for large fish develops as soon as water temperatures are within the 40°F vary, when some large walleyes maintain on rocky factors, shoals, and humps in main-lake areas. “I do know some large fish are all the time working deep construction, too,” he says, “however I concentrate on structural components in 6 to fifteen toes of water, adjoining to deeper water. There’s sufficient of this water to maintain you busy for days with out having to decelerate to work deep.

“On rocky shallow shoals I generally toss lipped cranks just like the Rapala Minnow Rap or the Sebile Koolie Minnow. Cranks are constant producers, however a lot of the large fish fall for a similar swimbaits talked about earlier. This sample lasts till the landings freeze up. Similar on components of Lake of the Woods and different surrounding waters. Additionally on Lac Seul.” 

Cornhusker Spooning

After spending most of summer season tickling treetops and treelines with spinnerbaits and small cranks, information and adorned match angler Rob Rowland faucets a deep fall chunk on Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy. “From August on, you gotta knock ’em on the pinnacle with a slab spoon,” he says. “It is a terrific big-fish chunk, too. Final fall, shoppers took fish as much as 14 kilos on this deep-water sample.” 

“The fish transfer out of flooded timber and onto sand ledges in 35 to 55 toes of water,” he says. Stellar slabs embody the long-lasting C.C. Spoon, together with plenty of supersize choices as much as 1 ounce in weight. Beefy bladebaits additionally take fish, he notes. With both lure fashion, he performs a gentle, aggressive ripping repertoire that includes 2-foot lifts and slack-line drops. Riggings relaxation on 20-pound braid mainline and an 18- to 24-inch fluoro, chief joined with a barrel swivel. “The chief retains the bait from fouling the mainline,” he says. 

Nebraska ace Rob Rowland scores lake ‘eyes on slab spoons deep.

A bit larger on the Excessive Plains, longtime information and In-Fisherman contributor Jason Mitchell enjoys the change of seasons on Devils Lake, North Dakota. He is fast to troll a backside bouncer and spinner rig alongside the sting of still-green weedlines. “In October, wholesome weededges maintain walleyes,” he says. “Deep construction and bottlenecks current extra choices. 

“Shallow bays with an 8- to 15-foot gap that drew walleyes early within the season turn out to be sizzling spots as soon as once more, and the holes can refill with fish.” Casting gentle jigs is a good tactic, although Mitchell says pulling splitshot rigs with small flicker blades, just like the #0 on the Micro-Blade Spinner he helped Northland develop, work wonders as effectively. 

Hail, Columbia

No roundup of fall hotspots would maintain water with out point out of the mighty Columbia River. “It is a terrific time to fish walleyes out right here,” says Washington’s District 4 fishery biologist Paul Hoffarth. Witness John Grubenhoff’s 20.32-pound big that broke the state report final March. Hoffarth says sows topping 10 to fifteen kilos are potential on any given trolling cross.

Having confirmed itself able to kicking out walleyes topping 20 kilos, the Columbia River is a prime wager for anglers looking for super-size fish.

“They feed closely earlier than winter,” he says, noting that the night time chunk under McNary Dam is pretty much as good because it will get. “Pulling deep-running crankbaits like Luhr-Jensen’s Scorching Lips Troller over humps in 18 to 24 toes of water is a sizzling tactic,” he says. Grubenhoff’s favourite tactic throughout fall is vertically jigging 1/2-ounce bladebaits just like the Heddon Sonar. He additionally advises anglers trolling crankbaits to assume large. “I’ve had 9-pound walleyes throw up 11-inch walleyes, so once I troll cranks, they’re large ones,” he says. 

“A bit warning is so as, nonetheless,” Hoffarth provides. “You may have firm on the market, and have to be careful for tribal gill nets and industrial vessels.”

Issues that go bump within the night time aren’t any deterrent for the walleye trustworthy, and neither is a bit chilly climate. Be part of them this season in tapping the late chunk and make this your finest fall but.

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