Go walking for late season walleye success
Backing into one of our area lake accesses, docks on shore, is evidence that the open water fishing season is all but over. For some of us it isn’t over until it’s over. Trophy sized northern pike and musky are on the prowl right now. Few anglers go after these massive fish. Now is the time to put percentages in fisherman favor. Want a trophy, the time is now! Walleye anglers, the few that have their boats out, find action restricted to the first hour or so of daylight and again at dusk, typical ice fishing hours. But with dense daytime gray skies, a shallow cisco baitfish movement can occur and walleyes will not be far behind.
Artificial jigging baits, like cast master spoons, Swedish pimples and jigging Rapalas are my personal preference, past experience best producers right now. The best option is to throw on a pair of waders and go walking. Actually you will do better wading a shoreline area when trying to cast from a boat. Northeast winds, predominant this time of year, will push walleyes onto the southwest shorelines of area lakes. The higher the winds the better. My personal best is a 6”-9” floating silver Rapala. Using a good set of waders, my best luck comes with casting the bait at a 45-degree angle off the shore, for a number of reasons: 1) it’s hard to cast into a stiff wind, 2) walleyes will disperse across a wide horizontal shore area.
My goal is to put my bait into as productive water as I can for the longest time possible. Waves pounding a shoreline draw bait and walleyes shallow. I have seen the backs of walleyes in as little as 12” to 18” of water depth. It makes good sense to cast as parallel to the shoreline as feasible to put the lure in front of as many walleyes as possible. Popular in spring and equally as popular in fall are “neck down” areas. River mouths, inlets and outlets into bays are examples of productive “neck down” areas. Add a good stiff wind blowing into these spots and you have the ultimate fish magnet. The reason is that current is created from the wind and wave action going in and out of the narrows. Bait fish will congregate and game fish like walleyes will not be far behind. Don’t overlook this; wading both sides of narrows they are the key right now. In my experience, you will be alone and that might be good. When company is present,
I find my success isn’t as good. Increased activity spooks the fish particularly, if wind or current is not present. Safety is always foremost when wading. It is recommended to carry a wading stick or pole as simple as a 5’-6’ stick or broom handle to prod in front as you walk. It helps to determine bottom depth change, sudden drops or submerged rocks that could trip you. There’s no need to go deep; up to the knees is as far as I venture out. I’m not a fan of hip boots but they will work. I like the warmth and the height of waders. This time of year wear orange and dress warm. Go for a walk and enjoy the final days of open water fishing.