Last-minute Tricks for Taking Fall River Walleyes


Across the Midwest, many anglers are putting their open-water fishing gear away. Some are going hunting; others are getting ready to go ice fishing. However, there are many anglers who are looking forward to open-water fishing in the fall. They know that rivers still present opportunities to catch walleyes. In fact, a very knowledgeable river angler told me that the period between November 15 and December 15 is his favorite time to catch walleyes.

Here are some tips for getting in on the autumn action:

Tip 1:

Be prepared for any weather; it can be 20 or 70 degrees. But if you’re cold, you’re not going to enjoy being out there no matter how well the bite is. Start out dressed for colder conditions. You can always take layers off, but you can’t put on clothes you don’t have. No matter the forecast, I put on long underwear. I also always take my insulated Guidewear. It cuts the wind and any spray, and it’s warm and comfortable.

Tip 2:

Tie some rigs in advance. If you have a couple of rod-and-reel setups, tie a jig on one and a three-way rig on another. Even though you may need to change when you get there to match water conditions, it’s easier to tie rigs in the house the night before where it’s warm. I keep rigs pre-tied in Rig-Raps for quick access. Rig-Raps make a live-bait rigger’s life much more organized.

Tip 3:

The key to catching fish in the fall on rivers is the same as always—you’ve got to find ’em. You’ll need to do some looking. Different areas will produce with varied results. Sand flats, wing dams, mid-river holes, current breaks, etc., they’ll all hold fish. You need to keep moving around until you find the areas that have the most biters.

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Tip 4:

Slurp Jigs tipped with a 3- or 4-inch Impulse Smelt Minnow or a 3-inch Swim’N Grub will be productive much of the time. Plastics such as Impulse are usually a very good choice, but there will be days when the fish show a preference to minnows. This is when you want to tie on a Fire-Ball Jig and team it with a minnow. If the fish won’t eat this offering, find another area to fish.

Tip 5:

When they are in the deeper areas, it works well to hover directly over them and hold the bait right in their face. These fish don’t want to chase a bait, but if it is wiggling right there in front of their nose, they’re going to eat it. There are times when you’ll see a flurry of activity early or late in the day, but much of the time the best bite will be from midmorning to midafternoon.

There are lots of rivers across the Midwest that hold walleyes and saugers. Most of them can be fished from a boat or from shore. You’ll have the opportunity to catch eaters and trophies. I’ll bet you can think of a river not too far away from where you live that has walleyes or other fish in it. Now would be a great time to go there and see if you can catch a few.


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