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September And Walleyes Go Hand In Hand

By Scott Ehricke - September 1, 2009
September is and will always be one of my favorite months of the year to fish the Winnebago system. The temperatures have a fall feel to them during the day and night, the bugs have typically gone away, there is a lot less boat traffic due to the pleasure boats not being out so often and the kids are all back in school. A lot of avid fishermen are now getting ready for the upcoming bow season, or a lot of fishermen are now starting to chase muskies up in Green Bay. These are all great reasons to get out on Lake Winnebago and start catching some walleyes. Typically, you have the whole lake to yourself during the week and now's the time to learn the lake better, try new techniques and enjoy this great body of water.

There are a few things that can help you put more fish in your live well in September and I am going to try and give you a little insight as to how we do things. One thing that most of us have noticed is that there is a lot of baitfish in the lake right now. This has to be looked at and you need to use this to your advantage. When I get to a boat launch or a creek or some backwaters, I will always look in the water and see the size, shape and color of the baitfish and use this to my advantage. I recently was on a trip on the north end of Lake Winnebago and while I was at the dock I noticed several year of the young Sheepshead in the water. I looked at them for several minutes and thought how closely they resemble either a #5 Flicker Shad or a #5 Shad Rap. We got set up for trolling and I placed all Flicker Shads and Shad Raps on my lines and was not disappointed. We had a variety of fish including Walleye, Perch, Sheepshead, Whitebass, Sauger, Catfish and even a Crappie, which was a shock to see. The point is not what we caught, but what we used. I normally would not have used these baits this time of year, but seeing the baitfish in the water gave me the idea to try it, and it worked well.

The water temperatures are starting to fall at night and the fish will now start to look for warmer water, which means get in shallow! The baitfish will be relating to the weeds and the warm water and this is where the walleyes will be in search of an easy meal. Try casting the shorelines or the weedy edges with some of your favorite crank baits and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The Zebra Mussels have really cleaned up Lake Winnebago over the past few years and the weed growth has really taken off. The walleyes are really starting to relate to this newfound cover and you need to be there to ambush them. Years ago, I never would have thought to cast cranks in 2 to 4 feet of water for walleyes, but now it is one of my favorite things to do. Be prepared to lose some crank baits if you are going to try this, but I feel it's well worth the risk. Some of my favorite crank baits to toss into the weeds and rocky shorelines are Live Target Lures in Crayfish color, #5 Flicker Shads with white on them, and #5 Salmo Hornets in either purple or fire tiger color.

"When I get to a boat launch or a creek or some backwaters, I will always look in the water and see the size, shape and color of the baitfish and use this to my advantage..."

When it comes to trolling in September, it is simply one of the best months of the year. As stated earlier, there are not the numbers of people out on the lake and you can pretty much go wherever you like. One of my favorite things to do in September is to troll over all the popular humps and reefs. I generally will avoid all the popular spots during the warm months of the year, but once September is here I love going over these spots. You can really key in on contour lines and really concentrate on working these humps and reefs real well. One of the keys is to know what the tops of these reefs are and set your baits just above that level. If I know a certain reef is eight feet at the top, I will run my baits at seven feet down. This will eliminate hitting the bottom and getting snagged up and yet puts that bait directly in the strike zone. Remember, the fish are getting ready to bulk up for the winter, so try some larger baits when doing this. Try running some Reef Runner Rip Shads in 200 series, # 7 Shad Raps, #7 Flicker Shads or some #6 Wally Divers. I always will have on at least one perch colored crank bait, as this is one of the walleyes favorite meals to eat. Also remember to match the crank bait with the weather conditions. If it is bright and sunny outside, use metallic colored baits. These are meant to reflect light and this is the perfect time to use these. If it is overcast outside, use natural colored baits such as perch, bluegill or crayfish colored baits.

If we notice while trolling that one reef is producing more then the other ones, we will set up on this reef and jig it. When I jig the reefs in September I jig them the same way as any other month. I keep the wind to my back; I use a 1/16 oz. Jig tipped with either a half a crawler or a large leech. I use 8-pound Vicious Ultimate line with a 6-foot 9-inch Okuma C3 Rod, and an Okuma Inspira Reel. I will drag these jigs as slowly as I can back to the boat and always be sure to keep your line real tight or you will miss the bites. If we do not have a fish in twenty to thirty minutes, we will pull up and go to another reef. There are always reefs open this time of year, so we always try to hit as many as we can until we find some active fish.

Fishing in September is a great way to spend a day out on Lake Winnebago. The fish are plentiful, the weather is awesome and you get to go wherever you like. Have a great time on the water and remember to always take a kid fishing and get them hooked on the sport we all love. This is Axl…. and I am OUT!

Author Scott Ehricke
Scott Ehricke
Scott "Axl" Ehricke owns and operates Winnebago Fishing Guide Service. He is a noted seminar speaker, radio show host, and has appeared in several TV segments and magazine articles across the country. He specializes in walleyes on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. Sponsors include; Lakemaster Maps, Okuma Fishing, Vicious Fishing Line, Mercury Marine, Kopper's Live Target Lures and Truckin’ America. For more information, please visit
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