Fall walleyes are super active when water temperatures start to drop.

Here we go again, warm days and above normal water temperatures in September. The trend the past 15 years or so has been above average temperatures, which has no doubt affected the fall trolling bite.

Back in the day, the fall bite always began on Labor Day weekend, but nowadays, it’s late September and early October.

Here is a primer on getting rigged and ready for the fall trolling bite.

Start deep and work shallow

 I start my walleye trolling passes around the 15-foot mark right off the bat. This is the deepest depth needed on most lakes and is usually a very reliable starting point.

I pull crankbaits that run about 11 feet keeping about 4 feet of distance between the bottom and the running depth of the bait. Color doesn’t matter but presentation does matter.

If after an hour or so of running the 15-foot depths, I move to the 9 foot depth and change crankbaits. Cranks that run about 7 feet are best when trolling the nine foot depths. This is my go-to depth 90 percent of the time in the fall.

My last resort is the super-shallow depths of 3 to 6 feet of water. This is most common with sustained winds howling along with the lower water temperatures.

Many of the big water lakes such as Red Lake, Mille Lacs, Winnibigishish and Leech are prime examples of having super shallow, active walleyes in the fall.

Pumping the rod

One of my favorite guide “secrets” is the ability to pump the rod when forward trolling. I call it really a “sweep” of the rod every few seconds. This sweep method makes the crankbait run erratically and looks like a wounded minnow.

Just pump or sweep the rod forward violently and then release, which makes the crank jump forward, and then retreat. I have experimented with this many times and the sweep catches fish!  

Best times to angle

Fall walleye fishing doesn’t seem to be best on early mornings or late evenings like it is in the spring and the summer. Fall trolling works all day long in the fall, especially with wind and overcast in the mix.

Water temperatures are still in the upper 60’s at this time and we need some cool nights and 50’s during the day to get things going. It’ll happen, it always does!


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