Go with the flow
Large river systems, like the Mississippi, Missouri and Fox, that are famous for pre-spawn walleye action, also host an outstanding, albeit less-pressured, fall walleye bite. With many outdoor enthusiasts trading their walleye boat for a deer stand or a duck blind, fall fishing offers an excellent opportunity to tangle with a true river monster, but without the crowds of spring. Vertical jigging with soft baits is a technique that river rats have had in their back pockets for years, and is now entering mainstream walleye consciousness. Tie on a 3/8 oz jig head with a wire plastic keeper, like the Precision Jig from B-Fish-N Tackle, and dress that jig with a 3-4” soft bait, like the Z-Man MinnowZ
, in a bright color pattern to offset the turbid waters of fall. Fish this combination on a short, stout and sensitive St. Croix Premier
(PS60MF) or St. Croix Eyecon (ECS63MXF) rod. Keep in mind the “less is more” approach when vertical jigging with soft baits: the less you move the bait, the more fish you’ll catch. Let the current do the work; hover the bait 6”above the bottom as you slip downstream with the flow, and enjoy the results of this emerging technique for river walleye and sauger.
Spring walleye fishing gets all the press, but the fall bite is truly the most enjoyable time of the year to chase ol’ marble-eyes. Pleasant weather, technicolor shorelines, campfire smoke drifting through the air, and big walleyes on the line all go hand-in-hand as nature prepares for a long winter’s nap. Take advantage of these last open water fishing opportunities of the year; you’ll be drilling holes in the ice soon enough!