Autumn River Walleyes

by Bob Jensen  |

When some anglers are putting their fishing equipment away for the season, a few in-the-know folks are getting ready for what can be some of the fastest walleye fishing of the year.  The rivers that criss-cross the Midwest can provide some outstanding walleye fishing right through the fall and winter months.  Here’s how you can take advantage of that action.

There are several locations in rivers that hold walleyes this time of year.  Current breaking structures like wing-dams can be very productive, as can deeper holes.  Sand flats extending below islands can also be good.  We will need to try different areas to determine where the majority of the fish are holding on the river being fished.  Deep holes can be very good on larger rivers, while the current breaking structures are productive on smaller rivers.  Deep holes in small rivers will hold walleyes, but not as many as the deep holes in larger rivers.

When fishing structures, try to determine if the fish are holding in a particular area of the structure.  Let’s say we’re fishing a wing-dam.  Pay attention to where the fish are coming from.  Maybe they’re holding on the tip of the wing-dam, or maybe they’re on the upstream side of it.  Once you’ve figured out where they are on the structure being fished, you should start on that same area on other wing-dams that you fish on that day.

Jigs are the way to catch these cold water walleyes.  There are lots of jigs available, but a Fire-Ball jig is as good as it gets.  This jig has a short-shank hook with a wide gap.  That results in a much better hooking ratio.

A three inch fathead minnow is a traditional addition to the back of the jig, and they still do a great job of getting walleyes to eat.

More and more, anglers are going to plastics on their jigs.  Plastics are often thought of as warm weather baits, and they do work well in warm weather.  However, in the fall, plastics continue to produce in rivers.  The jig can be held perfectly still just a few inches off the bottom, and the current will make the tail work.  Much of the time, a walleye can’t resist a jig hovering right in their face with that tail wiggling.  Try a 3 inch Impulse Swim’N Grub on a Slurp! Jig.  Use a jig heavy enough to get to the bottom, but not so light that the current quickly sweeps it away.  Tails/jigs with some orange or chartreuse are good starting colors, but let the fish tell what color they want.  There are times when they’ll show a distinct color preference.

Strikes can be soft this time of year.  I like 15 pound P-Line XTCB braid with a Tactical Flourocarbon leader tied on.  8 pound test for the fluorocarbon is good.  This set-up will provide outstanding sensitivity and hooksets and will also help you save some, not all, but some jigs from snags.

There are lots of rivers across the Midwest that will offer this walleye action for the next couple of months.  If you want to catch some walleyes right now, keep the above ideas in mind.

Photo: Smallmouth bass can be taken in rivers this time of the year also.  John Peterson caught this smallie on a river while throwing a jig/plastic combination for walleyes.

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Autumn River Walleyes