Lodging food and more
Falling for Autumn 'Eyes
By Sam Anderson
As predator fish begin their fall feeding habits, their focus centers
on large forage. Young of the year perch, cisco, river shiners and chubs,
along with other forage, such as frogs, crawfish and even their own offspring
will be targeted. Successful trophy hunters will match the
hatch, almost scientifically, at this time of year. Imitation of the forage
base is very critical and a key to productivity during the fall feeding
Feeding forays are anything but mysterious! The fish have to
eat a lot as summer activity increases. The perdition cycle is in
high gear on reefs, large points and adjacent flats, and in neck down flowage
areas. Veteran anglers can predict these movements, and position themselves
for hot late summer or early fall action on the biggest fish of the year.
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.
An obvious relationship exists between prey and walleye movements during
this transition period. Forage fish move shallow during turnover
and early fall because cooler water now becomes available there.
And walleyes follow their food to these areas.
The sunlight penetration also makes a big difference as to where the
walleyes are located on any given hump. You wouldn't think that sunlight
penetration would go down as far as 25 or 30 feet but in clear lakes it
does. So when fishing, pay close attention to the sun and make sure
that you fish the shady side of that hump. More active fish will
be found in this area.
I prefer shallow rock humps with big, boulder-sized rocks.
I also prefer them to be fairly close in proximity to shore. They
don’t necessarily have to be tied to the shoreline, but they should be
The rocks, if they are close enough to the surface, absorb heat
from the sun like a solar panel. The warmth attracts minnows and
you know the rest. A few scattered weeds growing up between the rocks
can be a real bonus.
Massive bait schools break up and walleyes head for specific
structural elements that funnel scattered, roaming forage past specific
spots. Look for long fingers or spines that protrude toward the main
lake. Roaming baitfish usually congregate along these fingers and
filter down them. Walleyes wait at the tips. Find those spots
and you'll find big walleyes. Bright warm days are preferred to cold,
blustery ones. The sun is lower in the sky this time of year, so
light penetration is decreased. However, bright days will cause the
water to warm up, which will turn fish on. Frequently, action will
be better from mid-day on.
A wind coming into the rock pile can be advantageous, although I have
enjoyed some nice catches on, calm days too. Remember that
the angle of the sun’s rays is not as direct at this time of year so the
fish can be quite shallow. The direction of the wind will have a
lot to do with how the fish locate. Usually they will be working
the windy side of the rock pile.
These spots vary but are based on factors like: water temperature,
availability of baitfish, oxygen, light level, structure and schooling
tendencies. Success rests with proper presentation. Once you
have located the edge and fish, the next step is to entice them to bite.
Your bait presentation will depend upon the specific edge that you have
selected. If the walleyes are directly below and concentrated
on a physical edge you can backtroll a livebait rig, jig, or a bottom bouncer
rig, keeping the bait among the fish you see on the depthfinder.
Try to determine where fish are holding. Keep asking yourself the
question what is their pattern?
|This is one of the ways my Lowrance X-15 MT comes in handy. If
you find the fish strung out along the edge, keep the bait moving and they
will bite. If they're clumped up in one spot, hover over them and
vertically jig them.Rocks also attract fish, try rocky shorelines.
Rock piles, humps or where rocks and weeds meet or are intermixed, work
it over thoroughly with a jig or live bait presentation.
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.
Drifting the breakline 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.
The head of the jig should be round or a stand-up type of jig. This
design helps when you are in an area that has snags, especially in timber
or rocks. When I am on a large lake, because there is no current,
I might switch to a lighter jig, spinner or a Lindy rig.
|For example, on a river like the Mississippi, I prefer to use 1/8 ounce
or 1/4 ounce Fuzzy Grub jigs. The important factor here is
the shape of the head.
With the cooling temperatures and the rough and tumble weather
of fall don't put that boat away just yet, get out and fish the edges for
some fall transitional walleyes. You might be surprised at the wallhanger
you hook into.
Keep these tactics in mind this fall and for more stories or
if you have a questions at www.samanderson.com.
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