Riege: Finding fishing humps during fall turnover

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bob & Ginny Riege

As the fall Turnover starts most anglers head for the typical shoreline to fish points that have rock rubble extending out to deeper water. Fishing success during and immediately following the turnover is generally poor because fish need time to adjust to their new environment. For that reason I tend to fish mid-lake humps or sunken islands. These environments are not foreign to the walleye they have been living there all summer long.

When fishing these humps I rely on my depthfinder to tell me if anyone is home on these humps. I usually like to look for a good shelf that comes out from an island that has boulders on it. This is the structure that many walleye key in on to rest and ambush their prey as they slide back and forth from the hump to deep water. These are transition areas where the fish come to feed. These humps provide a structure for baitfish that have moved out into deep water as schools, and are looking for a place to rest. Naturally, what attracts the baitfish also attracts the walleye. The other thing that my depthfinder unit allows me to see is how active these fish are. Many times you can go over the hump and you will see that the walleyes are moving up to the top portion of the hump, this signifies that they are in a positive mood and within minutes you should be landing a nice plump walleye in your boat.

Email newsletter signup

Big fish become vulnerable for longer periods in the fall because they move into areas where baitfish are staging, some remaining in the general area through winter. To catch walleyes during fall transition and early fall consider the tendency for walleyes to move up.

An obvious relationship exists between prey and walleye movements during this transition period. Forage fish move shallow during turnover and early fall because cooler water now becomes available there. And walleyes follow their food to these areas.

The sunlight penetration also makes a big difference as to where the walleyes are located on any given hump. You wouldn’t think that sunlight penetration would go down as far as 25 or 30 feet but in clear lakes it does. So when fishing, pay close attention to the sun and make sure that you fish the shady side of that hump. More active fish will be found in this area.

I prefer shallow rock humps with big, boulder-sized rocks. I also prefer them to be fairly close in proximity to shore. They don’t necessarily have to be tied to the shoreline, but they should be fairly close.

The rocks, if they are close enough to the surface, absorb heat from the sun like a solar panel. The warmth attracts minnows and you know the rest. A few scattered weeds growing up between the rocks can be a real bonus.

A wind coming into the rock pile can be advantageous, although I have enjoyed some nice catches on, calm days. Remember that the angle of the sun’s rays is not as direct at this time of year so the fish can be quite shallow. The direction of the wind will have a lot to do with how the fish locate. Usually they will be working the windy side of the rock pile.

You might think that the best way to approach this spot would be with a jig or a Lindy Rig. I have taken numbers of fish with rigs off the bottom. But, often times the bigger fish are taken by fan casting a crankbait.

Crankbaits like Storm’s ThunderStick and ThunderStick Jr. or a #5 or #7 Shad Rapala are good choices. Towards evening you might want to move to a shallow running Shad Rap or a Rattlin’ Fat Rap to produce even more excitement.

It’s best to slowly circle the rock pile using your electric MotorGuide trolling motor to avoid spooking the fish. Cast right up to the edge of the rocks, using a 7 foot G Loomis spinning rod with a medium fast tip, and retrieve right down the edge of the rock pile.

The key to this pattern is big rocks and humps that top anywhere from two to ten feet. Remember the turnover is occurring and some walleye anglers are moving to the shoreline, but if you stay with the humps during the turnover period, you will have more productive days.