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Fall Transitional Walleyes
By Sam Anderson
Cooling water temperatures in fall send monster walleyes
on a devouring
fever. Whether the lure is a minnow imitation crankbait,
leech or red
tail chub on a jig, live bait rules in fall. This
is a time that sportsmen should not overlook because walleyes turn on as
if old man winter is ordering them to bite with reckless abandon.
Now's the time for trophy fish.
Cold fronts, rain, wind and rough weather often precipitate
the hot bite during the fall. Water temperatures start to drop
from the 70 degree range back into the 50 degree range or below; most walleyes
abandon the flats and hold tight to edges. Massive bait schools break
up and walleyes head for specific structural elements that funnel scattered,
roaming forage past specific spots. Look for long fingers or spines
that protrude toward the main lake. Roaming baitfish usually congregate
along these fingers and filter down them. Walleyes wait at the tips.
Find those spots and you'll find big walleyes. Bright warm
days are preferred to cold, blustery ones. The
sun is lower in the sky this time of year, so light penetration is decreased.
However, bright days will cause the water to warm up, which will turn fish
on. Frequently, action will be better from mid-day on. Baitfish are usually
the key to location. The big walleyes are never too far from them. Whether
it's shad popping or panicked bluegills, baitfish bare watching. As the
baitfish go, so go the walleyes. I had a chance to watch the summer migratory
pattern of a large school of walleyes I'd stumbled across in mid June.
I found a school of active walleyes hanging
out on a small weed line. They were there for three days,
then they moved to a rocky point 50 yards away. They remained on this gravel
flat for two weeks, maybe three; then they moved off slowly down to another
gravel flat 300 yards away. By this time, most of the
people fishing the
original gravel point had given up. In a two month period
they moved 600
yards. Time of day can plays an important part in solving
where the fish are.
Some spots turn on at different times of the day. You
can fish over a
huge school of inactive walleyes and never get a hit,
then come back two
hours later and find that they're going nuts. Always
double check a
good-looking area. If you keep checking these locations
will find active walleyes on one of them. Many anglers
think of rocks, sand, drop-offs, and deep water when walleye fishing.
But walleye chasers are missing some good fishing ifthey aren’t poking
around in the weeds when they’re after walleyes,especially the fall months.
Walleyes will make extensive use of weed clumps if they’re available, and
often the fish that are in the weeds are looking for a meal, making them
susceptible to any type of offering.
First of all, what type of weeds will hold walleyes?
Coontail will hold
a few fish, and on some lakes will be pretty good.
But my favorite
vegetation, day in and day out, will be cabbage weed.
Cabbage is abundant on many bodies of water, and will also be the feeding
grounds for bass, northerns, muskies and panfish. I’ve found the
best weed beds for walleyes will be located at the edge of a drop-off and
extend over the flats into shallower water. At times the fish will
be down the drop-off a little, but frequently they will be up on the flat
right in the middle of the weeds.
Be on the lookout for small isolated clumps of cabbage
near the weed
bed. In fact, many times the weed bed will be made
up of a bunch of
clumps of weeds. These individual patches of cabbage
can provide a
fisherman with some hot action.
One way to look for a productive area for walleyes in
another species of fish. If you can find where
carp are visible you
will find productive weed walleye locations. A good method
of find the active walleyes on a specific spot is to troll. Many times,
when I am on a strange lake I will set up a trolling pattern. By selecting
a artificial bait that resembles the local forage and deciding the active
depth, something that should be asked before you get your boat wet, you
gain a wealth of knowledge, not to mention lost time.
Trolling is a good way to check long weed lines or large
gravel flats. Good trolling requires lots of attention to detail, but it
can pay off big. Once I locate walleyes this way, I get back over them
and work down some live bait on either a jig or livebait rig. Fall walleyes
will be starting that transition very soon. Don’t worry about the
outcome of the football game, the walleyes have a game plan all to themselves
and a few fall anglers. Why not be one of those
anglers this fall and find some nice walleyes before
the water gets hard
and you have to shovel the snow.
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