The fall period can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but if you’re a walleye angler it’s simply your best shot for nailing a real trophy. If you’re serious about finding and catching big walleyes you absolutely have to put the boat back in the water (or throw the waders on) at least one more time. There are too many big fish to be had and there’s no good reason for letting a golden opportunity like this slip by.
If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Fall has always been prime time for big fish, and for good reason. For one; it’s a time when walleyes have already started packing it on and are about as heavy as they’re going to be. For another; even though they’ve been feeding heavily they don’t let up and the action can keep going right up until ice-up.
While the fall is a peak period for big fish you can break it down further and find a peak within the peak. Night time is the right time for finding some of the hottest fall action and is when the season’s heaviest catches are made. You can take it one step further and key on the three days before and after the full moon.
This short window of opportunity is something you really don’t want to miss if you can help it, and worth making a few adjustments in your schedule. From sundown to sunup walleyes can really turn it up a notch, especially during the full moon periods.
The dark of the of moon seldom results in good night time action and it could simply be a lack of light. Even during the full moon the most consistent action occurs during cloudless nights when the moon can actually cast a shadow. Heavy cloud cover can slow things down, way down, and is something to keep in mind when scheduling a night run for monster walleyes. Wind and waves on the other hand can be a good thing and the noise it creates can help cover your tracks and reduce the spooking factor.
Classic night time patterns include trolling shallow rocky reefs and bars with long slender minnow imitating baits like the Rattlin’ Rogue. The Rouge produces a nice tight wiggle, even at slower speeds, and does so with a built in sound chamber loaded with rattles. Those rattles can really make a difference especially at night, and it would be a good idea to have a few rattle baits ready to go. The key is getting a bait to run just over but not on the structure you’re fishing. The Rogue is a shallow running bait and requires adding a small weight a few feet in front of the bait to get it down. One of the slickest new systems for adding and changing weights has been developed by Dr. Drop and is a lead free weight that you simply click onto the line and it stays put. To remove it; just pop the line free. The system allows you to add and remove weights in seconds and makes fine tuning your running depth a snap.
Good rocky trolling runs are the longest you can find because they allow you to keep your bait running in the zone for a greater period of time. On the other hand smaller structures might receive less pressure and you may be better off giving up on the major more well know areas, especially if they’re over run with anglers working the night shift. Before you drop the baits it would be a good idea to run the length of the reef or bar and get familiar with it’s ins and outs and ups and downs. You’ll probably also want to drop a lighted marker on each end which will help you keep your bearings and keep your lures where they’re supposed to be. It’s easy to become confused up at night, even on a lake you’re familiar with.
Other equipment to bring along includes a good flashlight, a headlight, and a big net. The headlight will help keep things lit and make the job of getting a net under a big walleye a lot easier. If you try to net what you can’t see you’re probably going to miss it, and if you just catch one of the hooks you’re probably going to lose it.
Another hot fall pattern for nailing night run walleyes includes wading and casting current areas. Crestliner Pro Team member Reed Noreen of Andover, Minnesota burns plenty of midnight oil in the fall, and has been able to find areas overlooked by most other anglers and has had them to himself. "I’ll look for smaller current areas like creeks where they enter the main body of water. That isn’t a secret. Another thing I’ll look for is any ditch or channel that can hold current, especially after a hard rain. Rain and runoff can trigger a shallow night time movement in areas that would normally be dried up. If the water is clear enough you can actually see the fish with a flashlight and can help you locate productive inlets. You’ll also see why the walleyes are there because for some reason those current areas will be loaded with baitfish.
That’s when the walleyes come in thick and you can even feel them bump into your waders." You can see why there are too many good opportunities to stay home this fall. The chance for hooking up with a fish of a lifetime is worth losing a little sleep over. All it takes is a will because there is definitely a way. See you on the water, at night.