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Understanding Fall Walleye Patterns

Most everyone in the walleye world knows that fall is the walleyes’ season to bulk up. This is their time to put on the feedbag and build fat reserves for the upcoming winter and to grow their eggs before spring. The finicky walleyes of summer are gone. But what does that mean to your fall walleye fishing plans? Just because walleye are on the feed doesn’t mean they will jump in the boat. You still have to find them, target them and execute a plan.

First, let’s define the season. Fall walleye fishing does not wait for the calendar to say Sept. 20, nor does fall walleye fishing start when the leaves on the trees start to turn. It starts quite a bit sooner in the northern half of the continent.

For me, fall walleye fishing starts when the weeds begin to brown and die off. In the lakes around my home in the mountains, that’s happening by mid-August when the algae bloom is happening. The algae blocks sunlight, and the day-length of mid-August is more than an hour shorter than it was in late June. Less light cues the weeds to die off for the year. Thick patches of weeds may still seem vibrant and alive, but those deeper weed edges and the sparse weed areas are invariably browning and dropping WAY before any terrestrial trees show a glimmer of color.

This die-off is important because it leaves zillions of perch, shiner, chub and sucker minnows with no place to hide. Those minnows seldom tuck into the remaining thick weeds, preferring instead to bunch together and roam, following shorelines and stacking up on rocky structures. You’ve seen it happening even if you didn’t realize why it was happening. But as soon as minnows start swarming their way down the shorelines, you can bet the walleyes take note! This is the beginning of a multi-month feeding binge.

This early harbinger of fall is the first opportunity for us to angle up fall feeders and starts a cycle of enhanced chances for us to bend a rod.

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