Learn how to target
By Ernest Miller
Fall is the time to put more walleye in the boat. With the fish
aggressively feeding before winter, the lakes that are known
for walleye in your area will produce more fish. Not only will
you find active fish in more places but the average size tends
to go up as well.
One thing about walleyes this time of year is they make
more gradual adjustments in their overall position in lakes.
Unlike summer time once you find the area of a lake the walleyes
are in, they move very little from day to day . I often find
them feeding at night very close to where we find them during
the day. With their main goal to gain weight while using as little
energy as possible it make sense.
Targeting main lake saddles and the flats near far reaching
deep water points are a good place to start. With the fish unwilling
to use much energy to search for food, targeting open water fish
this time of year is very effective. With the fact that the fish
are less apt to make sudden moves you have the opportunity to
cover water and mark several groups of fish before having to
worry about them leaving before you get back.
When the water cools I find very few fish make transitions in
the water column like walleyes do. Even though walleyes
don’t seem to make drastic changes in there overall location,
walleyes will move from lying right on the bottom to feeding
near the surface. Even though I have a high level of confidence
in my locator overall, I focus my scouting efforts and tools
toward identifying fish near the bottom. There are very few fish
in the fall or even in the winter that will hug tight to bottom
like walleyes will. Many species will suspend so it can
be difficult to determine exactly what type of fish your seeing
on your locator.
An effective strategy for focusing on fish near the bottom
is to switch your graph on split screen with a 4X zoom on one
side and a full view of the water column on the other. This
will help you mark those negative fish hugging tight to bottom
while still being able to see if the fish are already suspended
and feeding. While scouting areas as deep as 60 feet, any sizable
fish near the bottom are worth keeping an eye on. Being able
to mark those fish on a GPS is definitely a bonus. You then
have the ability to return later to identify a pattern. Being
able to see the same groups of fish multiple times can say
it all. When scouting for fall walleyes finding groups of fish
that are working there way down toward the bottom in day light
hours is almost a sure sing you found what you were looking
for. When the fish are on a decent to the bottom that defiantly
indicates the walleyes are reverting to a negative stage.
However even if I’m no longer marking the walleyes on
my locator I will focus on fishing the bottom in the areas
I last marked them. More times than not they will lay on the
bottom very close to where you last marked them. Two common
ways I focus on these fish are with live bait rigs and three
When live bait rigging with minnows in water of 25 feet I’ve
found a couple of things to be helpful. Using fresh minnows is
very important and being able to trap your own is second to none.
Wild minnows tend to be unbelievably hardy even after their hooked.
It’s not uncommon to be able to cast a trapped creek chub
several times and still feel him swimming around on his leader.
A minnow you can count on to keep swimming in a walleyes face
is like candy. The second thing is the rod you use. I like a
rod with two specific characteristics. I prefer a rod with a
light tip section so the fish can’t feel resistance when
they pick up the bait. The second thing is to have a quick taper
creating good back bone for good hook sets. This is critical
in this situation where you tend to have long lengths of mono
out which creates a great amount of stretch. Jason Mitchell 7
foot 6 inch elite series rod is a good example of this combination.
More information on these rods can be found at www.jasonmitchellrods.com.
When fishing a three way in main lake areas my rig consists of
the following. I use a 6 to 7 foot heavy action graphite rod
to support using larger weights. You don’t want you rod
to bend with the simple action of lifting your weight as you
bounce bottom. Power Pro 4-15 with 25 feet of 10 pound maxima
tied on with a blood knot has proven to be a good fit. The
now stretch line supports being able to pound bottom with gentle
lifts of the rod. The mono serves several purposes .You introduce
a controlled amount of stretch in to a no give system , the
leader to your bait is less visible and as you’ll see
it works nice for an adjustable lead length. My drop line consist
of a 3 to 4 ounce weight with 2 to 3 feet of 20 pound maxima
tied to a red off shore release. I clip it on right behind
the blood knot. This gives you a generous 25 foot leader to
your bait and can be removed when landing fish. It’s
also nice to be able shorten you leader by sliding your clip
toward your bait if you find your bait is hitting bottom.
How much action your bait has is probably the show stopper.
The floating Rapala in 11 and 13 works great on these rigs. You
can give it as much action as you want just by how hard you try
to pound bottom. The Rapala has little to no action if it’s
just being pulled. When the fish don’t want to work it’s
almost like they prefer no action. This bait allows you to get
as subtle as I’ve found possible. By lifting your weight
off bottom and letting it settle back down rather than just dropping
it the Floater is as subtle as I’ve seen.
Find out more about fishing fall walleyes day or night
on Muskegon Lake at www.michiganfishguide.com.
Michigan Fishing Articles & Photos –
Article About Fall Walleye Fishing in MI