ABOUT FISHING: Fall bite heats up on area lakes
Fall is a time of change. It's also a great time for catching walleyes, if you hit the right spots.
Locating top walleye-producing waters is critical for success. Minnesota Lake Finder — found at mndnr.gov/fishmn — is a valuable source for access locations, size and quantity of fish and data that has been compiled from DNR netting survey results.
Here are a few sweet spots with advice to catch them.
Locals know the perennial favorites: Fish Hook, Big Sand, Belle Taine, Boulder and Island (west). Smaller bodies of water fire up first, including Boulder, Lake George, Twin Lakes by Hubbard, Duck and Island-Eagle. Long and Potato are favored by late-season walleye anglers, disappointed fisherman in the past fall seasons. It's still worth a shot during the moon phases of October and November.
Daytime walleyes go deep, 30 feet or beyond of water depth. Keep the fish you want to eat. Releasing fish is not recommended.
Live bait connection
Minnows are a favored live bait, particularly chubs, red or creek varieties 4 to 6 inches in length. Live bait rigs best put these foods in front of hungry walleyes. My favorite live bait rig: three neoprene bobber stops that slide up and down ahead of a small black swivel tied on the end of the line, attached to the black swivel 2 feet of clear monofilament line. Next add a glow bead, ahead of a No. 4 to No. 6 red hook. Clip on a quarter-inch or 3/8 oz. dipsey sinker ahead of the neoprene stops, slide the stops to adjust leader length without retying.
Hook a chub from the bottom of the lip lightly through the top of the head — too deep and the minnow will not swim naturally. Chubs tend to swim up off the lake floor. Keep leader length to the sinker at times shortened to keep the bait close to the bottom. It's always a good idea to carry sucker minnows; traditionally, a bait fish that hugs close to the bottom preferred by lazy walleyes. Change it up by hooking the minnow in the back dorsal fin. A live bait rig with a nightcrawler, especially on unseasonably warm October afternoons, to make them eat.
Use those tipped with a small, robust rainbow minnow slow trolled or casted. It's tough to beat this choice. Proven colors, green, chartreuse, and white in clearer waters. Bites occur when the offering is dragged on the bottom. Mix it up with intermittent hops. A plastic flexible twister style tail can replace a live minnow.
Artificial trigger baits
Jigging rapalas and small walleye spoons, like Little Cleos and Swedish pimples, earn a top spot in a successful walleye fisherman's tackle box. Tipped with a small minnow head. Fished vertically or cast, these lures produce at times when all other methods don't.
In low-light situations, before daybreak and at night, cloudy gray days and during the full moon phases, crankbaits cast or trolled in skinny water along the shore yield results. The best baits are 4 to 8 inches in length. Fall colors are gold, silver or silver-blue combinations.