November’s howling northwest wind makes for an ornery fishing buddy.
That cantankerous cold cleared the boat landing and blew all fair-weather fishermen couchside.
So, grab that stocking cap and insulated overalls. Walleye have fallen into their predictable autumn patterns.
Not only will these fall walleye fishing tips put ‘eyes in the livewell, but they’ll also take your mind off those frozen fingers!
Table of Contents
- What You’ll Need
- Know Where To Look
- When to Expect the Most Action
- Well Equipped Tackle Box
- Working Prime Locations
- Presentation is Key
- Preparation is Key to Cold Weather Fishing
- That’s It, the Time for Talking is Done
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What You’ll Need
Opportunities to land a “wall-mounting walleye” are open to anyone willing to take advantage of time-tested fall walleye tactics.
You can spend tens of thousands on a fishing boat, or grab your lucky pole.
Do you have a casting rod (6lb line) and a crankbait? Fall offers the best opportunities for shoreline fishing.
- That’s right, no boat needed!
- Oh, bring the landing net & stringer.
Perhaps, you’re lucky enough to have a watercraft worth tens of thousands of dollars.
First off, can I go fishing with you? Second, equip yourself with the knowledge of walleye’s fall habits & get ready to use that livewell!
Remember the catch? No, I’m not talking about the ‘eyes you’ll net. I’m talking figuratively – it’s going to be cold out there!
You will be uncomfortable. That’s why you didn’t have to wait at the boat launch. Make the effort to stay positive (your fishing partner will thank you).
Know Where To Look
The first thing I check is water temperature – by far, the best indicator of walleye’s predictability. My boat’s electronics make this easy.
Is the water temperature 60 degrees Fahrenheit or less? Excellent!
Next, I look for a dropoff or ledge.
The walleye will school up in deeper water (20-40 feet), and saunter to the shallows once sunset sounds the dinner bell (10-20 feet).
On windy days, I’ve caught walleye in depths of less than five feet.
Is there still weed-cover to boot? Those leftover August weeds hold minnows, chubs, and shiners.
Big fish are leaving the lake’s larger basin, targeting these locations. You should too!
When to Expect the Most Action
Walleye are sensitive to light. As a result, when the sun is shining, most walleye are deep and tight to cover. They actually see better at night.
Have you ever heard of “walleye chop”? Because of waves, produced by windy conditions, the amount of light able to penetrate the water’s surface decreases. This darkens the water, which increases the ‘eyes’ daytime feeding activity!
Well Equipped Tackle Box
Once I’ve found a location with all the necessary conditions (ledge, shelf, structure, marked fish), then it’s time to raid the tackle box.
We all have our favorites. Here are my top three:
- Rapala Original.
- Soft plastic swimbaits.
- Simple jighead tipped with a fathead or plastic.
I’m never afraid to go big this time of year. Everything has grown over the summer – so has the walleye’s prey. My bait will reflect that.
A walleye would rather consume one large fish, versus burning precious energy chasing many smaller fish.
Of course, a fisherman’s collection wouldn’t be complete without jigs. I use 1/16 oz on calm days and ⅛ oz for windy conditions. Tip with a crawler, Yum Grub Curly Tail, or a fathead.
Working Prime Locations
Once I find a location that meets my requirements, I start shallow.
Work your way around weed beds. Hit the sides & tops of any submerged beds.
Any open lanes within the bed? Save that for the last cast. You don’t want to disturb the entire scene before thoroughly working the edges.
If the shallows don’t produce, go deeper where they’re staging. Zigzag across the edge. Let your electronics show you where to go.
Finally, I go deeper yet. Be patient, you know their daily feeding cycles.
I repeat this basic routine for each promising spot.
Mark fish and get your bait down there!
Presentation is Key
Do you like the action when it’s fast and near the water’s surface? Me too!
Working the shoreline and cabbage weeds in the shallows can’t be beat! Shallow-water Rapalas, crankbaits and jigs, and plastic combos work well here.
Remember, the walleyes came to the shallows to eat. So, don’t be afraid to be aggressive and use a bigger presentation.
If you find the walleye staging in the deeper waters, slow the presentation down. These fish will need more coaxing to get them to bite.
If you’re using a casting lure, relax that retrieve. If you’re jigging, use a lift and release technique (not the wrist-popping motion that worked in summer).
The Jigging Rap or a ⅛ ounce jig tipped with a fathead are my “go-to’s” on these deeper fish.
Preparation is Key to Cold Weather Fishing
You can simply endure the cold, or you can thrive in it.
Preparation makes all the difference. Here are a few tips:
- Prepare all rods within the warmth of your house (the night before).
- Unclutter your boat (most accidents are preventable).
- Dress in layers (avoid cotton).
- Use hand warmers, foot warmers, bodywarmers (whatever it takes)!
- Pack a thermos of coffee/hot chocolate.
- Bring lunch (staying warm burns calories).
When my son and I go fishing, he hits the snacks before even wetting a line!
Check out the TOP 9 Best Ice Fishing Lures for Walleye.
That’s It, the Time for Talking is Done
OK, here’s the deal – with practice, the fall walleye fishing tips we’ve discussed will put you on fish.
There will be times when you’re unable to pattern fish, times when the ambient temperature fluctuates like a stand of poplars in a stiff breeze. This will scatter the fish.
But, be patient and stick to the fundamentals of fall walleye fishing.
You know where and when to zero in on your target fish.
You know how to pattern walleye.
You know what lures to pitch and how to present them.
Now, brave some colder temps and be ready to set the hook into some lifelong memories.