By the end of August and into September there is a short period of time when walleyes show a renewed interest in shallow water which can result in some excellent angling opportunities. For those that decide to stick with it the potential is real and in many cases the early fall period can produce some of the hottest action of the entire open water season.
The drawing card for attracting numbers of walleyes back to shallow structure is more than just the structure itself and can be summed up in one word: food. For most of the summer young of the year perch, minnows, and baitfish hang out in the relative safety of shallow water structure where they can live and grow until they become a desirable size. Reaching a desirable size can be a dangerous thing if you’re a minnow, as there are only so many places to hide. Shallow rock and gravel has plenty to offer providing hiding places for all of that aforementioned bait as well as thousands of crayfish. Adult perch will file in and gorge themselves on immature crayfish, making them an easy target for walleyes on the prowl.
A top technique for yanking walleyes off the rocks includes trolling crankbaits which will allow you to cover some water. Try tying on a lure that will just barely reach the bottom with a lot of line out and then get going, and don’t be afraid to speed things up. Late summer walleyes can be plenty active and the extra speed may be just what they’re looking for. Good crankbait colors include perch and crayfish patterns, and it’s not to hard to imagine why.
On lakes that have big weed flats there are all kinds of nooks and crannies for bait fish to hide out in, that is until late in the summer when a lot of weeds start to lay down and die, thus eliminating many of those hiding spots and pushing schools of bait out into the open leaving them in a rather precarious position. Walleyes know a good situation when they see one and big schools of bait left hanging out to dry is a real good situation. It all happens at a time when predators instinctively feel the need to feed heavily, allowing them to put on the layers of fat that will help to get them through the leaner times of the hard water period .
One of the hottest patterns of the early fall period occurs near the remaining weeds that are left standing on slow tapering flats, and can happen just about anywhere you find green weeds. Walleyes will stack up on the edges or move into the middle of a flat if there are enough openings. The edges and openings create ambush points and give ol’ marble eyes some room to operate.
Top presentations for working early fall weed flats include live bait rigging and jigging. A live bait rig and a red tail chub can be a real killer when worked on the deep edge of a weed flat, but the presentation loses some appeal when trying to work into the middle of heavier weeds. In that case a bait like an1/8oz Northland Tackle Vegas Jig tipped with a minnow can be the big ticket, or maybe a jig and plastic body like the Mimic Minnow Shiner which may be even more effective as you can literally rip the setup through the weeds which can trigger weed bound walleyes. Jigs can be cast or trolled depending on how much area you have to cover or how thick the weeds are.
A top late summer technique includes drifting or trolling over weedy flats with the jig and plastic and letting it rip and glide across the tops of the weeds and drop into the open pockets. As you drift along drop the jig back and then snap it forward which gives the bait a rip and fall action which can really trigger active fish. A lot of the times walleyes will grab the bait on the fall and will just be there when you go to rip it forward again; fish on!
A good weed pattern may be your best bet even when you have the classic rock and gravel options. The thing is you really can’t overlook any of the possibilities and all it takes is a little investigative fishing to prove it out. See you on the water.