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Fall follies

Editor's note: John Kolinski is an 11-time championship qualifier during his 
eight years as a professional walleye angler on the PWT, RCL and MWC 
circuits. He recently added the title of PWT 2002 Angler of the Year to his 
list of accomplishments. His articles can be found in many Midwestern outdoor 
publications and at several web sites. Kolinski is sponsored by Triton Boats, 
Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Normark/Storm Lures, MinnKota, Lindy Legendary Tackle, Flambeau, Tempress Rod Holders, Off-Shore planer boards and Berkley Trilene.

There comes a time each year when a walleye's world becomes one of endless 
After months when its movements and locations are dictated by necessities 
such as spawning, foraging and comfort, autumn offers this species more than 
any other the opportunity to break those chains and wiggle its fins for a 
couple of carefree months. By the time October and November roll around, Midwestern lakes have turned over, meaning stratification that might have limited the available oxygen at certain depth levels earlier in the year is gone. 
And with the entire water column to roam, walleyes are liable to turn up 
anywhere from a few inches of water in a river channel to the darkest depths 
of a lake or reservoir. They will go wherever they must to find the forage 
they need to store up fat reserves for the less-active, cold-water months 
In some respects, fall behavior closely patterns that of the postspawn period 
in the spring when food sources also dictate location. In fact, I often find 
autumn 'eyes in similar, if not the same, locations they frequented in May. 
The difference is that instead of moving away from their spawning areas as 
they do in springtime, fall tends to find walleyes moving slowly toward those 
areas, although most of the larger fish will find a place to overwinter before continuing the journey in the spring. 
Meanwhile, there exists a smorgasboard of forage in the fall as springtime 
hatches grow to munchable sizes. Walleyes are likely to eat everything from 
shad, shiners, smelt, chubs and minnows to leeches, crawlers, frogs, crayfish 
and salamanders.
Certainly, fall is one of the best times to hook into trophy walleyes as they 
go on a non-stop feeding binge, but it's also a time when those fish have a 
tendency to play hide and seek with anglers.

Lindy little Joe Fuzzy Grubs one of my personal choices
Lindy's Fuzzy Grubs
I've had October and November days where pitching 1/16th-ounce Lindy Fuzzy Grubs tipped with minnows to slack-water shoreline rip-rap adjacent to deep water produced big numbers of fish up to 10 pounds. 
Some days, those big 'eyes are in a foot of water. Other days, they're  farther down the break. Some days, they move up only under low-light  conditions. Other days, they're cruising the shallows all day long. And on still other days, the only way to get them is to troll crankbaits or drift live bait 20 to 25 feet deep at the very bottom of the break. Another of my favorite places to find fall fish is along deep-water breaklines in the river current. I've bounced jigs successfully in water as deep as 30 feet along current breaks, trolled crankbaits like Shad Raps and Storm Thunderstick Juniors on lead core line and pulled red-tailed chubs on 
three-way rigs to take fish from the same areas.
John Kolinski hoists another fine walleye
The author John Kolinski hoists a nice Walleye
Lakes and reservoirs paint a similar picture as big walleyes gang up near the 
bottom of deep-water points or on the outer edges of humps and reefs where  they're susceptible to a variety of presentations. Again, I am always 
prepared to pitch jigs or crankbaits shallow when faced with overcast or 
windy conditions, 
but I also won't leave the area until I've probed the depths with live bait, jigs or cranks.
Big fish can provide big fun on the Midwest's Great Lakes right up until they 
ice over. In those situations, I search the bottom edges of the reefs (25-40 
feet of water) and explore the troughs and trenches that cut between the  rocky structure. I've got friends who even pile up trophy walleyes trolling  30-foot breaklines with spinner rigs and crawlers well into November.
One place I don't spend much time is weed beds. While productive just a month 
earlier, baitfish and walleyes seem to abandon these areas once the 
vegetations starts to die off and decay.
One constant in all these situations is stealth. Fall typically brings with it the clearest water of the open-water season, and trophy walleyes didn't  get to be trophies without also being wary. 
MinnKota Maxxum 101 bow mount trolling moto4r
Minnkota 101
Approach likely areas quietly and cover them by either drifting or using an  electric trolling motor.  The MinnKota Maxum I run does an efficient job of 
guiding my Triton 205 across even the toughest of waves. Electronics play a key role, too. There's no reason to fish a deep-water  reservoir point or the edge of a Green Bay reef just because it's there. I 
always scan the area first and let my Lowrance X-15 paint the picture for me. Once I've decided to fish an area, Off-Shore planer boards are another 
important asset in my autumn arsenal.
When I'm trolling, they allow me to  send lures out over structure well away from the boat where even big walleyes  have no way of knowing what awaits them at the other end of the line. Finally, I prefer a clear monofilament line like Berkley's Vanish when I'm  dealing with these denizens of the deep, although I keep a spinning rig  spooled with Fireline handy for casting the shallows in stained-water 
situations, especially on river systems. Successful fall walleye anglers need to be versatile. It can be hard work, but the ends almost always justify the means.
E-mail John Kolinski

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