When the nights and mornings are cool and the days get shorter, try these presentations for catching the feedbag-wearing walleyes of autumn.
Let’s knock out my five top setups for chasing my favorite sportfish during my favorite time of year: walleyes in the fall!
Before we start, remember that a fall pattern does not necessarily mean right after turnover. It can be right before, too!
Start with crank baits. They’re a great, fun fishing tool at any time of year, but they’re really productive in autumn when fish are hungry and pursuing big, healthy baitfish. Cast cranks over riprap areas, or troll them at night along breaklines, reefs, and inlets of small creeks or rivers.
We tend to use rattles with crank baits. In a high pressure area, skip those rattles, but if you sense you’re working underfished walleyes, keep them.
Night casting for crank baits works great this time of year, too. Use those bigger crank baits now, since they cast a bigger shadow and walleyes should be feeding more and chasing bigger prey species.
Consider longlining, three-way swivels and lead core line for fall walleyes via crank bait, even if they’re shallow. The speed of your trolling is a key factor. Generally troll a little faster in fall than summer, say 1.9 to 2.1 miles per hour.
Jigs are very productive with larger fathead minnows in fall. During the low light conditions walleyes usually will be shallow, so work those depths in the early part of the day, and also when it’s raining. Later, move to deeper water with jigs, but understand that you’re always searching.
In a tougher-bite scenario, try those live-bait rigs. We want to use a snell length of about 8 feet long. Here again, most people stick with 10-pound test, but I err on side of lighter line, especially in a tough bite. Use 6- or even 4-pound-test line.
In fall, I find 4- to 5-foot snells are most productive. Use leeches and redtails and on certain bodies of water, shiners, but always start with redtails. In a tougher bite, try 2-1/2- to 3-1/2-inch fatheads.
Finally, even if leeches do not always correspond mentally with a fall bite, bring them. I find that medium leeches are great in a tougher bite throughout the open water season.
Fall walleyes: work ’em!
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