Mike Frisch: Jump on the fall walleye bite right now
Boating walleyes this time of year is back to often being a simple approach with a jig and a minnow.
Fall is a great time to be on the water fishing as the pleasure boaters, water skiers, and jet skiers are gone and, of course, the fish often go “on the chew” in preparation for the coming winter.
Walleyes that have been largely ignored the past couple months are among those hungry fish. While big, deep lakes are often thought of as classic walleye waters, many small, shallow lakes have good walleye populations that usually bite now too.
My search for fall walleyes in shallow, weedy lakes usually starts along the lake’s first drop-off, that area where the shoreline flat starts to drop to deeper depths. This drop off typically occurs in depths from 6 to 12 feet deep.
Searching along any points and turns along the drop-off is often a good starting point. Also, spots where bottom composition changes, maybe rocks to sand, can be fish magnets too. Turns, points, and bottom transitions are often good spots during the spring bite on these lakes and produce again during fall.
As fall progresses, my focus turns to finding green, living weeds which may grow up on the flat and extend down the drop off. In fact, particularly as fall progresses, an area of green weeds will often be the spot on the spot for finding fish.
The tried and true jig and minnow combination slowly trolled or drifted along a lake’s first drop-off is one way to find the fish-holding areas and/or living weeds. Simply drifting and slowly fishing a light jig and minnow combination on a long line is a great way to eliminate unproductive water and find walleye schools. Also, today’s modern electronics featuring Side Imaging are great tools for finding weeds, bottom changes, and fish.
Once fish or likely areas are found, the catch can often be maximized by anchoring using a trolling motor’s “Spot-Lock” feature and pitching jigs and minnows to the fish. Pitching is a great way to catch a bunch of fish from a small area.
Small 1/16 and 1/8 ounce size jigs get the nod when drifting or pitching. Bright colored jigs are often preferred, particularly when the water is somewhat “off colored” which is typical in many shallow lakes.
Various minnows will produce, but a scoop of lively fatheads is often all that is needed during fall. On calm days, or any time the fish are very shallow, 1/16 ounce size jigs gets the nod, though I prefer 1/8 ounce jigs if the wind kicks up or when drifting or slow trolling to find fish.
Small jigs and minnows fish well on spinning gear and light line. My rod choice is a Lew’s Speed Stick walleye jigging rod paired with a Custom Pro spinning reel loaded with 8 pound fluorocarbon line.
The jigging rod is light and super sensitive and the reel is buttery smooth and has a reliable drag, which is important when a hard fighting shallow fall walleye is hooked on light line.
If you are looking for some hard fighting fall walleyes this year, consider heading to a small, shallow lake right now. Rig up a spinning rod with a jig, grab a scoop of fatheads, and head to the spots just described and you just might land on walleye gold.
Be safe on the water and, as always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more “fishy” stuff.