By Jim Hagerty
Although the weather isn’t always pleasant, some of the best walleye fishing happens during fall. Beginning in late summer, female walleyes begin eating large quantities of food as they nourish developing eggs. By September, the fish often head to a variety of places to feed on anything that will fatten them up for winter.
The key to luring hungry fall walleyes usually comes by way of making lures look as natural as possible, and dragging live minnows and worms off the bottom. It’s also important to know how the fish behave in lakes and rivers. In rivers, fall walleyes usually head for rock faces and beds. Bait presented near obstructions will allow the fish to dart from cover. As with any predatory fish, walleye will follow smaller species to warmer water.
Fishing rivers for fall walleyes can be tricky; however, understanding water temperature is usually all that’s necessary to track down big fish. Walleyes will usually look for breaks when hungry. This means fish will head for areas where currents are diverted, and females can relax and roam freely for food and not have to fight currents. Areas near slack waters, abutments, dams and eddies are often walleye havens as water temperature remains relatively warm for bait fish.
In most lakes, walleyes tend to head to deeper waters, which tend to be warmer than the shallows as winter approaches. There, they will find some cover, but mostly will roam for prey. This feeding cycle is usually evident when lakes begin to stratify, as they naturally turn over layers of vegetation and warmer water, which gets forced toward the bottom. Before lakes stratify, shallow waters remain warm going into fall. Walleye will often stay in the shallows and feed until bait fish move to the deeps. Lake fishing for walleye is often unpredictable, depending on the climate and water temperature. It’s not uncommon to catch 18- to 20- inch fish in 6 to 8 inches of water.
Outdoors news and photos can be sent directly to Jim Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org. Glossies and hard-copy press kits can be mailed or delivered to The Rock River Times’ office at 128 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101. Jim can be reached at (815) 964-9767.
From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue