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  #1  
Old 09-23-2020, 12:22 PM
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Default So just what is it that the walleye want?

I know we're into the transition to fall, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to keep catching walleye in the lake where I've been focusing my attention while I'm learning to use my boat.

The catch there WAS good during the summer, in fish size if not number, but I've come up empty the past couple of tries. Still catch perch, but not walleye.

Still picking my days and times to minimize my newbie impact on others, but weather-wise I've thought that's worked out pretty well of late. Mostly sunny but enough breeze to put a bit of chop on the water (which isn't all that clear, anyway), barometric pressure falling rapidly but not down low yet, water temperature as the boat reads it in the low to mid-60sF.

I can see the fish down there on sonar, lately almost all right at 30 ft be that on the bottom in 30 ft of water or however much off the bottom in deeper water. Lots of shad for natural forage. The walleye don't seem to be bunched up anywhere so I've stuck with trolling, doing passes in what has been and still looks like it should be productive water at various speeds from 0.8 to 2 mph. Since the transition began I've tried running crankbaits and bottom bouncing nightcrawlers on spinner rigs and slow death rigs at appropriate depth, but all that's been interested in any of these offerings are the occasional perch. Yesterday I tried larger (4" to 6") paddletail swimbaits thinking to encourage the walleye rather than the perch, again at various speeds and hopefully just up off the bottom (but these baits are new to me and I found it hard to tell how deep they're running), but this time nothing at all was interested.

There are always a few other folks fishing on the lake (it doesn't get all that much pressure during open water season, at least not during weekdays), too; I haven't talked with any of them, but I haven't seen any of them catching anything lately, either.

Suggestions on what to try?

Gerry
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  #2  
Old 09-23-2020, 01:13 PM
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#9 jigging rap in 30-40 ft


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Old 09-23-2020, 01:30 PM
Husker525 Husker525 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbin View Post
I know we're into the transition to fall, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to keep catching walleye in the lake where I've been focusing my attention while I'm learning to use my boat.

The catch there WAS good during the summer, in fish size if not number, but I've come up empty the past couple of tries. Still catch perch, but not walleye.

Still picking my days and times to minimize my newbie impact on others, but weather-wise I've thought that's worked out pretty well of late. Mostly sunny but enough breeze to put a bit of chop on the water (which isn't all that clear, anyway), barometric pressure falling rapidly but not down low yet, water temperature as the boat reads it in the low to mid-60sF.

I can see the fish down there on sonar, lately almost all right at 30 ft be that on the bottom in 30 ft of water or however much off the bottom in deeper water. Lots of shad for natural forage. The walleye don't seem to be bunched up anywhere so I've stuck with trolling, doing passes in what has been and still looks like it should be productive water at various speeds from 0.8 to 2 mph. Since the transition began I've tried running crankbaits and bottom bouncing nightcrawlers on spinner rigs and slow death rigs at appropriate depth, but all that's been interested in any of these offerings are the occasional perch. Yesterday I tried larger (4" to 6") paddletail swimbaits thinking to encourage the walleye rather than the perch, again at various speeds and hopefully just up off the bottom (but these baits are new to me and I found it hard to tell how deep they're running), but this time nothing at all was interested.

There are always a few other folks fishing on the lake (it doesn't get all that much pressure during open water season, at least not during weekdays), too; I haven't talked with any of them, but I haven't seen any of them catching anything lately, either.

Suggestions on what to try?

Gerry
You will get many different schools of thought during this Summer to Fall transition period. Most all of them will be correct in some aspect.

I have become a much better late Summer to Fall fisherman in the last 4 years, as I was truly limited in my experience. I was a good early Spring, Spring, and early Summer fisherman, but had to learn more about Walleye behavior as the water heated up, then cooled off again.

Bait and oxygen levels are key components during this time frame. Colder water, weather, and moon patterns come into play. This can change daily. A general rule is find the baitfish balls, find the predators chasing bait, and pick those fish off. During the Summer, the diet can also change. Many of the walleye will feed on insects during the heat of the Summer, dropping down into the mud flat areas. If oxygen levels are low in the lake, you must learn to fish the thermoclines that appear in many of the lakes. If I do not know a lake intimately, I will find the bait, then deep troll shad baits, AND larger minnow baits at the depths that I find the fish on the finder.

If I have fair success trolling, then I stop, and either vertically jig spoons or slabs, in the deeper 25+ fow. If they are a little shallower, then throwing Jig/minnow combos will work. You are still in the nightcrawler temps with the 60's. When it hit's the 50's, switching to minnows may deliver better. Be careful fishing over 25-29', as you can kill fish bringing them up from the depths. Be selective....

You can still catch them in shallow water during low light periods, as they will move into those areas to forage. Throwing crankbaits and jigs, swimbaits, etc will all work.

If you are not having luck because you are competing with all the forage, after matching the hatch, then think radical. If they are feeding primarily on shad, give them something entirely different, like a craw pattern, give them a lure with a rattle or even a more subtle presentation.

You have to be flexible. Their feeding windows change daily, and if you just go after them day after day with just one presentation, then you may end up with a few fish, but end up frustrated.

Your lake may still have fish scattered all over, and that complicates things. As the temp drops, the fish will start to group up, and become easier to catch, once you have located all the key indicators. (bait, depth, predator fish). Then you just have to provide them with some different presentations and start beating up on them a little.

Although I am not a patient person, if you find the fish, don't be afraid to sit on them until they start hitting. Many times people miss good fish by running and gunning. If you locate them, stay on them until they choose to bite. Maximize your potential by fishing during ideal lighting and weather conditions.
Welcome to the world of seasonal transition fishing. Once you have mastered this learning curve, all other seasonal fishing will become more successful.

When fishing is tough, go radical. Extremely large lures all the way down to very small, such as used for ice fishing. One fish is a good start. 2 on the same thing is the start of a pattern....
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Last edited by Husker525; 09-23-2020 at 01:32 PM.
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  #4  
Old 09-23-2020, 03:16 PM
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... Lots of shad for natural forage...
Don't know why I wrote shad when I meant alewife. They're closely related species of herring, I know, but I like to state things correctly - especially when it comes to fish!

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Originally Posted by tate05 View Post
#9 jigging rap in 30-40 ft
Thought about trying Jigging Raps/Shiver Minnows yesterday but didn't have all that long on the water and wanted to give the swimbaits a good chance. Next time!

But how do you pursue deep, scattered fish with them? If by trolling, what speed(s) would be good and - as with the difficulty I had with the swimbaits - how do you know how deep you're running?

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Originally Posted by Husker525 View Post
You will get many different schools of thought during this Summer to Fall transition period. Most all of them will be correct in some aspect.
Husker, I feel as if I've been largely following the plan of attack that you suggest for the summer-fall transition period, and with the reasoning that you state, but I've had no luck. Maybe if you tailored your advice more specifically to what I'm encountering and what I have and haven't tried, it'd be easier for me to see where to go from here?...

Gerry
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:33 PM
Husker525 Husker525 is offline
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Do you want me to set the hook on the fish for you too? LOL J/K

You may or may not be even seeing the fish laying belly to the the bottom. Walleye eat Perch. If you are catching Perch, I would vertically jig/slab/jigging rap below the Perch and right on the bottom. And move 10-15' at a time, targeting marks on your sonar.

Alewives look like a big wavy S on your finder, from top to bottom or everywhere in between. Shad like to ball up in round schools. i like big long Smithwick Rogue style lures, or Deep Husky Jerks to get down to them if you are trolling. Rattle vs no rattle, try them both.

Try fan casting Jigging Raps, Shiver Minnows, etc. I have been alternating between blade baits and slabs, as sometimes it is all about the fall rate. Is that a bit more specific?
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Last edited by Husker525; 09-23-2020 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:16 PM
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Have you tried shallow? Like less than 15'? There will always be fish in the weeds and they're always catchable on the edges. The deep edge is a good bet anytime and best if there's been consistent wind on it. Slip bobbers hanging bait right in their faces, jigs popped along the edge, crank baits or spinner baits or jerk baits worked over and through or along the edge. Look for openings, inside and outside turns. Large flats with lots of weeds are better than isolated pockets but windblown points are always worth looking at. You won't necessarily see walleye on your electronics but any fish you see above or around the weeds means there's food for walleye.
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Husker525 View Post
Do you want me to set the hook on the fish for you too? LOL J/K

You may or may not be even seeing the fish laying belly to the the bottom. Walleye eat Perch. If you are catching Perch, I would vertically jig/slab/jigging rap below the Perch and right on the bottom. And move 10-15' at a time, targeting marks on your sonar.

Alewives look like a big wavy S on your finder, from top to bottom or everywhere in between. Shad like to ball up in round schools. i like big long Smithwick Rogue style lures, or Deep Husky Jerks to get down to them if you are trolling. Rattle vs no rattle, try them both.

Try fan casting Jigging Raps, Shiver Minnows, etc. I have been alternating between blade baits and slabs, as sometimes it is all about the fall rate. Is that a bit more specific?
I think I can handle setting the hook. Appreciate the offer, though!

Been catching the perch right on or just above the bottom. I figure there are walleye there, too, and even more likely in the vicinity of the clouds of alewife. Just haven't been able to entice them to bite since the transition started.

Haven't tried blade baits or slabs/spoons yet, either. Will do!

The individual fish with any size that I mark are one here, a couple there, with lots of empty space between. Not a lot of structure in this lake, either; mostly it's like a 35-40 ft-deep soap dish. (There is one spot that always catches my eye, but so far I haven't marked or caught any fish there.) That's why I've stuck with trolling so far, to cover ground. You think I should abandon that in favor of fan casting, though, huh? I can't see moving only 10-15 ft at a time while doing that when the fish are so spread out, but I suppose I could just stop every time I see some likely looking fish or school of bait fish, a rock hump or whatever on the sonar, fish a bit, then move until I come across the next such spot... I'm certainly game to try it, and it certainly would give me more confidence that I have a lure such as a swimbait/snap jig/blade bait working the right depth. Don't particularly like trolling all of the time, anyway; it just seemed the thing to do given the situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kzoofisher View Post
Have you tried shallow? Like less than 15'? There will always be fish in the weeds and they're always catchable on the edges. The deep edge is a good bet anytime and best if there's been consistent wind on it. Slip bobbers hanging bait right in their faces, jigs popped along the edge, crank baits or spinner baits or jerk baits worked over and through or along the edge. Look for openings, inside and outside turns. Large flats with lots of weeds are better than isolated pockets but windblown points are always worth looking at. You won't necessarily see walleye on your electronics but any fish you see above or around the weeds means there's food for walleye.
I'm sure that you're right, but I'm almost as sure that many of the fish I'm marking at 30 ft are walleye, whereas most of the fish I'd encounter on the weed line would be bass and northern, which are both more plentiful in this lake. Used to bass fish a good bit in my youth but I outgrew the interest, and fishing for northern has never been my thing at all. If I'm not going to catch walleye I'd rather catch perch than either of those. I'm game to try as you suggest, though.

I reckon you folks have given me a few more things to try, in any event, and perhaps by the time I've done so the fish will be moving into a solid fall pattern, anyway. Thanks!

Gerry
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:56 PM
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There's walleye up in there, too. You'll get a mix for sure. Depends on the kind of weeds with thinner being better. I hate Eurasian milfoil and have never found a fun way to fish it. The biggest walleye may be out in the main basin chasing alewife but there should be eaters in less than 20'

In a bowl type lake there's usually a few spots on points where the medium depth water comes in a little closer or a finger of shallow water sticks out a little further. Those are well worth checking out. A small feature in a mostly featureless lake can make a big difference. One of the lakes near my cabin is like that, a fairly narrow band of water sloping to 8' and then a break to anywhere from 25'-60'. I've got waypoints on weeds all along the shore line and hop from bed to bed. You never know which one will hold the 'eyes from day to day. There are a few though that are much more consistent producers and they're all near those little features. If you can make your own maps try doing that while you cover water trolling and then highlight a narrow depth range like 12-16; those inside and outside turns will jump out at you.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbin View Post
I know we're into the transition to fall, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to keep catching walleye in the lake where I've been focusing my attention while I'm learning to use my boat.

Suggestions on what to try?

Gerry
Try having your husband run the boat!
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Old 09-27-2020, 09:36 AM
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In late summer and fall I like to focus on shallow. Jigging fish you see on the sounder is rarely a bad idea, but I like to find a nice 3-7ft flat near a drop off, preferably with some weeds on it or near it, and cast floating rapalas. I've already caught a few in that manner at a few different lakes this year. When they are in shallow they are there to eat, so I focus on them.
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