By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member and printed with permission of the Renville County Register
As fall slowly moves on toward winter, we wind up with colder and colder water to fish in.
As water cools, the walleyes slow down some and they will still be feeding a lot, but will simply slow down a bit, being a cold blooded species. The pike love cold water and slow down their activities much more slowly than walleyes.
Then, you may want to consider switching from your artificial lures, crankbaits and spoons. It really is fun to catch nice walleyes on a stick crankbait or spoon type lure as you feel the strike and know right away just what you are dealing with. But reality sets in when the fish aren’t hitting as they did before. Now they might want a slow and large minnow to munch on.
Most of our fall fishermen are wader or shore fishers. The shallower the lake, the quicker it cools in the fall. Therefore, if you fish a shallow prairie lake, such as Big Kandi, Wacanda, Elizabeth, Allie or Preston, you may have to switch to live bait sooner than in deeper lakes like Green at Spicer.
We have caught northern pike on spoon lures and slowly-retrieved crankbaits as late as the end of the first week in November. Some of you may have caught them later than that, but the freeze-up will soon be there after the second week in November. The large chub and sucker will really continue to work after the ice is starting to overtake a lake. The “Quick-Strike” rig is good for these fish.
Another live bait rig is the good old Lindy-type rig that we use all summer long. But, now, we will be using it as a cold-water, slow presentation for pike and walleyes. If fishing pike this way, continue to have a short steel leader on board. Walleyes can still cut lines but not nearly as easily as the pike. You can convert this rig to a “quick-strike” rig also.
The Lindy-type rig is made by slipping a sliding sinker on your line, tying on a swivel, and adding a leader to this swivel. Then, tie on the hook of appropriate size, depending upon minnow size and size of the fish you are seeking to catch. The length of this leader depends upon how high above the bottom you want your minnow to swim. If bottom weeds prevail where you are fishing the leader must allow the minnow to swim above the weeds rather than just become buried in the weeds. Depth of the water also makes a difference in how long the leader should be. A shallow lake with sand bottom requires only a short foot long leader for walleyes. Hook size or style is up to you but we prefer a “claw-style” hook in size four for walleyes. Larger may be necessary for larger minnows.
After this rig with its minnow has been cast out to the walleyes, one must know whether the fish is biting or not. A small chunk of Styrofoam with a small slit cut into it can be used as a “bobber” to indicate if the fish is biting or not.
This foam “bobber” should be placed on the line just in front of the tip of your rod. Kick the reel into casting mode so the line can be peeled off the reel by the fish. If a fish bites on this, he will pull the line with the piece of Styrofoam out into the lake or at least indicate it is there by moving your line and its Styrofoam piece. Only practice with this style of fishing will make you more able to know when to set the hook on the walleye biting out there. Many people wait until the Styrofoam stops moving out and then pick up the rod from the rod holder. When the Styrofoam moves again, they set the hook. That works for many fall fishermen.
Another tip is to take a small bottle cork and add it to the hook end of the leader. It will make the minnow float up off the bottom and make the minnow attempt to stay down on the bottom so walleyes won’t find them. This makes the minnow active and more noticeable.
One nice thing about this style of fishing is relaxation. The piece of Styrofoam lets you know a fish is there so you can just sit in your lawn chair enjoying the migrating birds and the beautiful sunset, or sky full of stars.
CAMP FIRE IS NICE
Fall fishing can find pretty cold air after the sun goes down. The dry air loses its heat at sunset and a fire would be really nice to keep you warm out there on the shore. You can also cook brats or hot dogs while enjoying the relaxation of fishing in this low-key manner. The fire can also illuminate your Styrofoam bobber so you will know when a walleye is messing with your minnow.
BRING YOUR RADIO
Due to the fact that the World Series is often going on when the best shore fishing is going on also, you will want a portable radio so you can keep up with your favorite team. Or, if fishing on a night when your favorite High School football or volleyball team is playing, you can listen in on that game. Yes, we have also seen portable Television sets out there on the sandy beach while people are gathered around, watching Monday night football or some World Series baseball game.
Endless possibilities for your end of open water fishing for this year, eh?