Catching transitional walleyes in the fall

Cooling water temperatures in the 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 anglers definitely 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, and 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 at this time of year so light penetration is decreased. But bright days will cause the water to warm up, which will turn fish on. Frequently, action will be better from mid-day on.
Baitfish usually are the key to location. The big walleyes are never too far from them. Whether it’s shad popping or panicked bluegills, baitfish bear 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 also plays an important part in solving where the fish are because 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, eventually you 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 if they aren’t poking around in the weeds, especially in the fall. 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 favourite vegetation–day in and day out–will be cabbage weed.
Cabbage is abundant on many bodies of water, and also will 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 weeds involves another species of fish. If you can find where carp are visible, you will find productive weed walleye locations.
A good method to find the active walleyes on a specific spot is to troll. Many times, when I am on a new 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.
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.
Walleyes likely have started this fall transition. So 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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