Mike Frisch: Force the bite this September
Alexandria area fishing guide Mike Frisch details techniques he uses to trigger bites during a typically difficult time of year in September to catch walleyes.
ALEXANDRIA — The summer into fall transition happens in many lakes in September and can make for difficult walleye fishing, particularly during the early part of this month.
Baitfish populations are often still high now and water temperatures haven’t cooled enough to get the fish thinking about putting on the fall feedbag. For those reasons, I like to rely on lure presentations that trigger reactionary bites. While you can’t force a fish to bite, you can often get them to react by using erratic, speedier presentations.
The first presentation that comes to mind when trying to get finicky walleyes to react is a bottom bouncer weight pulling a plain snell baited with a ‘crawler or leech and pulled around 1 mph. While some wouldn’t consider this a “reactionary” presentation, I do! First, lots of traditional live-bait rigging involves slower speeds, and a stuttering bottom bouncer creates uneven bait action that other presentations don’t; erratic actions that often trigger bites.
In fact, this particular method has been this fishing guide’s go-to presentation over the years whenever the bite gets tough. Not only that, but it is also often one of the most efficient ways to catch walleyes during a hot bite too.
Another method that relies on speed and erratic bait action is crankbait trolling. Contour trolling, that is following a particular depth as it winds along some structural element like a large underwater point or the edge of a big flat, is one way to troll crankbaits.
Another trolling method, and one that I’ve had good September successes with, is basin trolling out away from structure trying to find and trigger bites from walleyes roaming featureless deep water areas searching for food.
This method is often best accomplished using leadcore line and line counter reels to strain various depths looking for roaming walleyes. Adding planer boards to the mix makes it even more efficient as anglers can also cover wide areas of large, featureless basins by using the boards to take baits out away from the boat.
The Off Shore planer boards I prefer are easy to use, and when equipped with Tattle Flags, make for even more efficient trolling as the flags alert anglers to the presence of weeds on the bait or nuisance panfish.
Dying weeds floating in the water column that hit the line and then slide down to the baits can be a problem during early fall, a problem alleviated by the flags.
Crankbait trolling and plain rigs rely on either a trolling motor or gas motor and the speed and bait movements provided by those motors. Another method involving the use of glide baits relies on actions provided by the angler and his or her rod and reel. Glide baits fish either by being vertically jigged or cast and retrieved back to the boat. Regardless whether jigged or cast, anglers fish them by snapping the baits up and letting them plummet back to bottom.
These baits are designed to have erratic, unpredictable falls that trigger bites from nearby walleyes. While relatively new to the fishing scene, glide baits are now one of the hottest things going when it comes to walleye fishing. In fact, many competitive walleye tournament anglers rely on these baits a great deal.
Whether you are a tournament pro or enjoy walleye fishing outside the competitive arena, you have probably been frustrated by more than one walleye fishing trip during September. Using one, two, or all of the methods outlined above might just trigger a bunch of reaction bites during this challenging time and end those frustrations this season.
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series and is a co-founder of the ZEBCO School of Fish. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.