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Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall
By Perry Good
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and so can you. But unlike the
nursery rhyme tale your fall fishing can be put back together again if
you fish the humps or sunken islands of some of the larger lakes. Walleyes
are a structure-oriented fish, most of the time. These walleyes will
be tight to the bottom, lying in the holes between rock and cuts in the
bottom. They may be feeding, or waiting in ambush to find an easy
meal that comes their way. When fishing structure, you have to be
able to stay tight to the structure or your lure presentation will not
be in the strike zone of the fish. Move just a boat length away and
you will be out of luck.
One of the very first places I look and concentrate my efforts is on
the flats. Flats are the least interesting types of structure in
a lake. There are no breaks, holes, edges, just flat bottom. But
seemingly featureless flats hold most of the active walleyes during most
yearly periods. With that definition there is always an exception.
The exception in this case are the mud flats of Mille Lacs. They
are mud plateaus that rise up from the floor of the lake and they have
edges, holes, and inside turns, but on the top they have the qualities
of a defined flat. Most anglers believe that the bigger fish move
to the shoreline in the fall, but the mud flats of Mille Lacs hold fish
all year around and these big fish stay and feed during the fall months.
On the flats, the weather has less of an impact than it does in shallow
water. Fish favor stability. Relatively constant water temperature,
water quality, weather, and abundance of prey let fish live predictably.
Good fishing often accompanies stable conditions, but sometimes when weather
is poor fishing is the best on the flats. Flats are the major food-producing
regions of most lakes. Walleyes forage over flats. Therefore,
the flats are the home of walleyes.
It's easy to identify productive flats. Some prime flats drop
off steeply into the deepest areas of the lake. Walleyes that use
flats typically move shallower at night to feed on a variety of prey species.
Baitfish such as cisco and shad move shallower at dusk.
The depth of a good flat can very from only a few feet to over 20, depending
lake and the season. Flats with a fairly soft or sandy bottom
carpeted with low weeds, with patches of coontail or cabbage rising above
the carpet, attract walleyes. Submerged weeds develop as the water warms
in the summer. Weedy flats hold baitfish that attract walleyes at
night. In fall, weeds decline and small fish are flushed from cover.
Walleyes feed aggressively throughout this period. Walleyes can feed
in dim light. They have a feeding advantage over most prey species
after dark. When fishing these humps I rely on my depthfinder to tell me
if anyone is home on these humps. I usually like to look for a good
shelf that comes out from an island that has boulders on it. This
is the structure that many walleye key in on to rest and ambush their prey
as they slide back and forth from the hump to deep water. These are
transition areas where the fish come to feed. These humps provide
a structure for
baitfish that have moved out into deep water as schools, and are looking
for a place to rest. Naturally, what attracts the baitfish also attracts
the walleye. The other thing that my depthfinder unit allows me to
see is how active these fish are. Many times you can go over the
hump and you will see that the walleyes are moving up to the top portion
of the hump, this signifies that they are in a positive mood and within
minutes you should be landing a nice plump walleye in your boat. Big fish
become vulnerable for longer periods in the fall because they move into
areas where baitfish are staging, some remaining in the general area through
winter. To catch walleyes during fall transition
and early fall consider the tendency for walleyes to move up. During
daylight, if you can't fish during perfect conditions, it is usually better
to concentrate on deep fish, rather than shallow fish. You should look
for fish holding areas where wind crashes against a barrier or where the
wind churns up the water rather than fishing where
it is calm. Concentrate on dark water lakes that have a high
percentage of fish caught during the day. Sometimes in dark mucky
waters, high bright sun filled days trigger a feeding frenzy because the
sunlight gets all the tiny critters moving and in the cycle of fishing
the end of the food chain will be the bigger fish.
Constant bottom contact is essential even though it increases the potential
for snags. Use a small jig head with a wide hook gap to deliver the
bait in wavy conditions. Leeches are an outstanding rock bait because
they can take the pounding. Holding on top of a hump on a windy day is
a way to catch trophy walleyes. The tackle is simple and the methods
are easy to learn. First, use jigs tipped with a crawler, leech or minnow.
The size of the jig should be just enough so you have contact with
the bottom. Whenever you must fish in adverse conditions, being either
days or changing weather conditions, there should be a two step approach.
One way is to slow down your presentation. Go slow, use the
trolling motor and make your presentation very slow. Maybe even put
on a single hook with split shot rather than a walking sinker and vibrating
blades. Or the second approach is to go fast. Use fast trolling
speeds with artificial lures and speed troll breaklines to get
the fish active enough to bite. All the King’s horses and all the King’s
men couldn’t but Humpty together again. If you remember these techniques
I know you can have a
great fall! See you on the Water!
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