The Hot Fall Walleye Bite

By Dave Duwe - November 1, 2011
As the end of open water fishing nears, the late fall bite becomes hot. If you can handle the cold, the fishing is some of the best of the year. During the late fall months, I enjoy walleye fishing. Most of the summer is spent fishing largemouth bass or northern pike, usually with clients it is a live bait bite. In fall the best presentation is a crank bait. Whether it's casted or trolled, success can be had by all willing to bear the cold temperatures. Different than other times of the year an angler can have success at either day or night time hours. However, I personally still find the first hour of light and dusk to be the most productive for numbers of walleyes.

The two methods I will employ to catch walleyes are trolling or casting crank baits. Trolling is a very effective way to cover water and catch a lot of fall feeding fish. I look for weed lines in the lake I am fishing that still have green weeds (alive) associated with scattered rock bottom. Main lake points are always a good bet. During day time hours, I will troll 15-17 ft of water, during night time hours I tend to be in shallower water, approximately 12-14 ft of water. I feel that at night, the walleyes slide up the weed line to feed. When trolling, my preferred bait is a Cotton Cordell fat free shad. The color of choice is pearl with black dots applied with a Sharpie marker. I want to match the bait fish in the lake and resemble the black crappie. Your color choice may be different depending on your body of water. I will use 10 lb silver thread to aid in getting optimal depth for the crank bait. When fishing I will only use one pole per person, the use of planer boards seems to be less effective. I try to initiate a strike by gradually pumping the rod; this adds a very enticing pause to the lure. When getting a strike you never water to set the hook, instead make sure that the fish has it and lightly pull back. I seem to get bit more often when my trolling speed is 1.3 mph to 1.7 mph. With weed line trolling, the worst enemy is the weed itself. If your lure gets fouled, you need to remove the weed. Not only will your lure not run effectively, it also won't get eaten. Check your lures often and make sure it has "good vibrations."

My second choice of fall crank bait fishing is a jerk bait. My jerk bait fishing is almost exclusively done at night. In late fall, the water is clear after turnover making the walleyes spooky in the shallower water, less than 10 ft. My baits of choice are the Smithwick suspending rogue or the Rapala Husky jerk. The only choice of color is chrome/blue or chrome/black. I like using 10 lb Silver Thread on a medium action spinning combo. I find the best fall fishing occurs when there is wind. I will always fish on the windward side of the lake. Like trolling the main lake points are the best place to fish. Water depth varies greatly, I have caught suspended walleyes in 20 ft of water and as shallow as 6 ft of water. Keep in mind these fish are feeding, so where the bait fish are, the walleyes will be. The retrieve I find most effective is a couple fast cranks to get depth, the a couple cranks and a pause. With water temperatures cold, I don't aggressively jerk the lure.

Good lake choices for crank bait walleye fishing in Southeastern Wisconsin are Delavan and Geneva Lake in Walworth County, Pike Lake in Washington County and Lac La Belle in Waukesha County.

Make sure if you are fishing at night in fall you are aware of your surroundings. Most lake districts remove their navigation buoys late in the year. Check the fishing regulations for any special regulations before keeping any walleyes. Enjoy fall, ice will be coming soon.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .