Fall River Walleyes

October 19, 2015 by  

Across the Midwest many anglers are putting their open water fishing gear away. Some are going hunting, others are getting ready to go ice-fishing. However, there are a good number of anglers that look forward to this time of year for open water fishing. They know that right now, in rivers throughout the Midwest and other regions, there are lots of opportunities to catch walleyes. In fact, a very knowledgeable river angler told me awhile back that the period between November 15th and December 15th is his favorite time to catch walleyes. Here are some tips for getting in on this action.

Number One Tip:  Be prepared for any weather.  It can be twenty degrees or seventy degrees.  If you’re cold, you’re not going to enjoy being out there no matter how good the fish are biting.  Start out dressed for cold conditions:  You can always take clothes off, but you can’t put on clothes you don’t have.  No matter the forecast, I put on long underwear.  I also always take my insulated Guidewear.  It cuts the wind and spray and is warm and comfortable.  Guidewear is an outdoor accessory to some, but a necessity to many.

Fall River Walleye

Eric Olson caught this sauger along with a bunch of walleyes late one autumn afternoon on a Midwest river.

Next tip:  Tie some rigs in advance. If you have a couple of rod and reel set-ups, tie a jig on one and a three-way rig on another. Even though you may need to change when you get there to match water conditions, it’s easier to tie rigs in the house the night before where it’s warm. I keep rigs pre-tied in Rig-Raps for quick access. Rig-Raps have made a live-bait rigger’s life so much more organized.

The key to catching fish in the fall on rivers is the same as always: You’ve got to find’em, and you’ll need to do some looking. Different areas will produce. Sand flats, wingdams, mid-river holes, current breaks, they’ll all hold fish.  You need to keep moving around until you find the areas that have the most biters.

Slurp! Jigs tipped with a three or four inch Impulse Smelt Minnow or a three inch Swim’N Grub will be productive much of the time. Plastics such as Impulse are usually a very good choice, but there will be days when the fish show a preference to minnows. This is when you want to tie on a Fire-ball jig and team it with a minnow. If the fish won’t eat this offering, find another area to fish.

When the fish are in the deeper areas, it works well to hover directly over them and hold the bait right in their face. These fish don’t want to chase a bait, but if it is wiggling right there on their nose, they’re going to eat it.

There are times when you’ll see a flurry of activity early or late in the day, but much of the time the best bite will be from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

There are lots of rivers, big and small, across the Midwest that hold walleyes and sauger. Most of them can be fished from a boat or from shore. You’ll have the opportunity to catch eaters and trophies. I’ll bet you can think of a river not too far away from where you live that has walleyes in it. Now would be a great time to go there and see if you can catch a few.


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