By Jason Brenic | October 4, 2022
The warm, humid summer air has moved on and we can now feel the familiar nip of a Northern wind at our nose. That’s right, Fall is finally here. That means the water temps have cooled and the Walleyes are ready to put on their feed bag before the long Winter ahead. Fall is welcomed and longed for by dedicated fisherman. Many anglers have left the waterways in search of hunting opportunities and pleasure boaters have put away their watercrafts for the year. The water is now wide open for the avid angler to take advantage of the incredible fishing opportunities that lie ahead.
#1 Water Temperature
Water temperature is the key triggering factor when it comes to the exciting Fall bite that anglers look forward to every year.
As the water cools, there is a physiological instinctive reaction that occurs in every fish, including Walleyes. The fish know that with cooling water comes a cold winter under the ice, so they feed heavily during this period to increase their body mass to help get them through the Winter months.
The key water temperatures that trigger the heavy feeding period can vary with each body of water; however, from personal experience I have noticed that once the temps fall under 55 degrees, this period really gets going.
When it comes to location, there are a couple of key areas to look at in the fall.
- Shallow Rock Humps, Bars and Points that top out in 8-12’ close to deep water.
- Steep breaks with larger rocks that drop quickly into deep water.
Both of these locations will hold solid populations of big Walleyes in the fall.
For the avid angler, willing to withstand cold fall conditions; this bite can be good all the way up until the lakes ice up.
#3 The Tools
Rigging is probably one of these easiest techniques out there to catch fish once you know a few key things about it. Everyone’s set up is a little different and you too will find what works the best for you as you give it a try on your own. For me, I prefer to start with a 1/0 Circle hook, tied to about 3’ of 12lb Fluorocarbon leader. This leader then meats a barrel swivel which is tied to the main like with a 3/8 OZ to 1/2 OZ bullet sinker above it. Some call it a Carolina Rig, others call it a River Rig, I call it a Fall Walleye Slayer!
The reason I like the circle hook is because it will allow you to get a great hookset placement without throat hooking the fish while allowing the Walleye a few seconds to eat the live Sucker or Chub. The 12-pound Fluorocarbon is light enough to allow the live bait to have good action, while still being strong enough to withstand the abuse of rocks and a big toothy fish tugging on the other end.
When it comes to my rod and reel set up, I prefer to use a 7’ 3” Medium Fast Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Rod paired with a Piscifun Carbon X 2000 or 3000 Spinning Reel. For this set up a rod with a Fast Tip and Medium action is key because it allows the rod to load properly before the hookset and then has enough backbone to battle the fish, while ensuring the hook doesn’t pull free.
#4 The Technique
This is probably the easiest technique to learn when it comes to fishing, as it requires very little skill from the angler to execute. Once you put the sucker on the hook, you’re going to drop your bait down to the bottom and let out just enough line so that your bait is dragging behind the boat at a 45-degree angle.
Now, here is the ONE part that seems to catch everyone off guard with this technique. Once your bait is dragging at a 45-degree angle, you’re going to leave your bail open and put your finger on the line. When you feel a tug as you’re dragging the bait on the bottom, you will release the line from your finger and count to three. Once you’re done counting, then you will close the bail and slowly reel up your slackline until there is a light bend in the rod tip. At this point you will want to do a SLOW sweeping and lift hookset. This hookset will allow the circle hook to pin itself perfectly inside the mouth of the fish. The battle is ON!
Fall is a wonderful time of year to get out on the lakes, there’s less fishing pressure, amazing views and the Walleyes are HUNGRY. This Fall, be sure to take some time to visit one of your local lakes and give Rigging for Walleyes a try. I have no doubt that you will have a blast and catch some beautiful fish!