Reige: Emerald Shiner Run for Falling Walleyes

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some of the finest walleye fishing of the year takes place during the fall. The trick is to find the best action, and to match your presentation to the mood of the fish.

Fall walleye fishing can be extremely unpredictable, but most sources will say that usually the poorest weather conditions will produce the largest fish. Most large fish caught in the fall are females. To nourish their developing eggs the female walleye needs to consume large quantities of food.

In September the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay experience a shiner run. This shiner run generally lasts through the formation of ice. The Walleyes follow the shiners into the Rainy River providing high walleye concentrations. This is some of the best close in walleye action of the year.

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Now lets narrow down some areas that we can start to concentrate on. First of all, these big females have to eat, right? They will move shallow in a lake or river to feed and usually they need some reason to do so. The reason, that is where the prey fish have moved. Lakes have a tendency to layer out or “stratify.” In the fall this would mean that the depths of a lake are warmer than the shallows. The fall cycle of a lake allows the stratified layers to turnover and therefore the cooler water is on the shoreline.

Big walleyes will swim into the shallow waters to go a feeding spree. If you are in the shallows when this takes place hang onto the rod, you are about to catch some of the largest walleyes of your life. As they get full they may slide down to deeper parts of the lake, but again remember they have to eat and one of places to start looking for big walleyes is shallow. How shallow? Sometimes it maybe six inches of water, just enough to cover them.

On Lake of the Woods late summer and early fall patterns find big walleyes moving shallow enough for some fisherman to actually see the walleyes. The shallow water stays cool enough for big walleyes through the summer. If the walleyes can find boulders or other shallow water cover to provide shade, they may spend the summer at depths of 10 feet or less. If this is the case, most anglers fish too deep.

In the fall big fish like big baits. In fact, that is never truer than prior to ice-up. The water is cooling down rapidly and those fish won’t expend a great deal of energy on a snack. They want something substantial.

Fish tend to locate along transitional zones. The bottom may change from sand to rock or from mud to weeds; a drop-off may occur or slope into deep water; or water in one sector may be a slightly different color. The most important transition zones are the weeds. The weeds or vegetation may be the key to successful angling.

Fish are wary. This helps them survive and can also make them difficult to catch. They utilize their excellent senses of vision and hearing, detect motion with unerring accuracy using their lateral line, and also use their sense of smell. Therefore, a cautious approach is required of an angler.

With either natural bait or artificial lures, the presentation must be realistic. It should appear that the offering is part of the normal food chain. Hunger is certainly a major motivating factor, but fish also respond as predators and strike something that moves. At times, they even exhibit antagonistic behavior when biting an intruder to drive it away.

Walleyes love live bait, especially in the fall, and there’s no more practical way to present live bait than behind a slip sinker slowly dragged along the bottom. Rigging allows an angler to comb a lot of water quickly. It’s a great way to search for walleye schools that are scattered along a drop-off.

The key to live-bait rigging is a slow, meticulous presentation. Terminal tackle for a live bait rig usually includes a walking sinker threaded onto the line on top of a barrel swivel. Keep the sinker weight as light as possible, yet heavy enough to let you feel the weight along the bottom.

Don’t overlook a jig as a live bait delivery system. A jig can be very effective as it allows a live bait to hop along the bottom. If you have multiple people in the boat you can forward troll a jig on both sides of the boat so lines will not be tangled. We would recommend jigs from 1/4 – 3/8 ounce Northland Super-Glo jigs in orange, chartreuse, and red tipped with a minnow.

Many of the resorts in the Baudette, MN area are currently taking reservations for interested parties on this emerald shiner run. If you are interested please contact : Jenna Walton at Lake of the Woods Tourism P.O. Box 518, 930 W. Main, Baudette, MN 56623. (218)-634-1174 or (800)-382-3474.