Walleyes at Night

By Bob Jensen - November 1, 2006
On some bodies of water, at some times of the year, the walleyes bite best at night. That is especially true in the fall months. Here is how you can get in on this action.

The best night-bite lakes for walleyes are often the lakes with deep, clear water, although I have done well on smaller, darker lakes from time to time. However, it’s a pretty safe bet that the deeper, clearer lakes will be better.

Some anglers plan their night fishing trips around the moon phases, and if you can do so, that’s great. But just like with any fishing, the best plan is to go whenever you get the chance. For the record though, I can remember fishing under a full moon many nights when the fish really bit good.

Because some baitfish spawn in the fall, and because frogs make their annual migration from the swamps and marshes back into lakes in the fall, the walleyes will be quite shallow. You can effectively fish from shore, but trolling shallow off-shore reefs can also be very productive.

Keep your tackle to a minimum in the fall. You’re fishing at night, and when it’s dark it’s harder to find stuff and easier to mess things up. If you’re fishing from a boat, organize the boat during the day so you’ll know where everything is. Two rods are all you’ll need: Spinning rods will be preferred. A six foot six inch medium action Berkley Lightning or Tactix rod will do a nice job. Team it with a Cardinal 3 reel spooled with 10/4 or 14/6 FireLine and you’ll have a great outfit for day or night fishing.

We’ll be throwing two styles of baits. Firestick crankbaits will do the job as will three inch Power Grubs. Some nights the fish will want one style of bait, other nights they’ll want something else. The Firesticks will fool more of the bigger fish, but sometimes the Grubs will fool more fish.

You’ll want to net these night-bite walleyes. Trying to grab them by hand at night is asking for problems. The proper net will make your job easier and safer. The Frabill nets with the Pow’R Lok yokes are the way to go. The handle telescopes into netting position quickly and easily, which is a huge factor when fishing at night.

If you can, spend some time during the day driving around the lake. Search for shallow areas where you can see minnows. Areas of current that have a hard bottom attract the minnows, and the minnows attract the walleyes. Be on your spot before it gets dark. Sometimes the fish will bite right at sunset, but usually they’ll start a little later. Regardless, you want to be on the spot early to avoid spooking the fish.

Fishing at night for walleyes can get a little chilly, and it is different from fishing during the day. However, the opportunity to catch perhaps the biggest walleye of your life presents itself at night on some Midwest bodies of water, and that’s reason enough to spend some time looking for night-bite walleyes.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at www.fishingthemidwest.com.