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And walleye fishing, of course.
Ask any proficient walleye angler when their favorite time to target these predator fish is and nearly all of them will tell you it’s fall. It’s a transitional time for walleye and, as the temperatures get cooler, they begin to put the feed bag on to prepare for the winter ahead. Thus, like you and I — but more likely me — the more they eat, the bigger they get.
However, while walleye fishing is never easy, fall changes make targeting these fish an extra challenging task. So, as an expert walleye angler with over five years of experience and having single-handedly brought a few dozen walleye over the rails, I’m here to walk you through how to effectively master this tricky, yet rewarding, time of year.
Lake Turnover & Other Scientific Things
The first thing you need to know when attempting to land walleye this fall is how the changing environment and, more specifically, lake turnover impacts walleye behavior. Don’t worry, understanding lake turnover is actually pretty simple.
In a way, it’s a lot like the air in the atmosphere — hot air rises and cold air sinks. In late summer, the water at the top of the lake is much warmer than the water at the bottom, but as we head into fall, the colder air temperatures begin to cool the top of the water column, which leads it to sink. And as it sinks, it pushes the water at the bottom of the lake up.
"The beauty of fishing in the fall is that once you find walleye, you're likely to find a pile of them." — Britton Ransford, Mack's Lure
But now, due to the decomposition of organic material (which uses up oxygen) in the previously deeper water, we’re dealing with a lack of oxygen in typical walleye hotspots, including shallower shelfs and weed beds where prey take cover. So, while wind and other factors reoxygenate the water, walleye begin to scatter into deeper water (with more oxygen) and for a brief time may become very lethargic, leading to difficult fishing.
At the same time, however, vegetation in shallow water is also beginning to erode and baitfish are forced out of their typical cover and into deeper open water, which just so happens to now be walleye territory.
Locating Walleye After Fall Turnover
Once water conditions stabilize, the walleye, now in feed mode with winter on the horizon, become aggressive and begin covering vast areas of water chasing a dwindling source of baitfish. Because these fish are constantly on the move, they become more difficult to find. Luckily — or hopefully — you have electronics to help you pinpoint certain areas.
FEATURED VIDEO: BOTTOM BOUNCING SET UP
One of the most important parts of bottom bouncing is making sure your rig is at the perfect angle. In this video, Mack’s Lure Pro Staff Nick Harrington highlights how to make sure you’re running as snagless as possible and going to have the highest hooking percentage. For more from Harrington, visit Midwest Lip Rippers online.