Get on the Breaks
for Late Fall Walleyes
by Ron Anlauf
It’s high time for going as low as you can go for late fall walleyes.
of great patterns for finding and catching old marble eyes late in the
open water season but one of the best includes simply working deeper
breaks and drop offs with jigs and live bait rigs. As simple as it may
sound there are still some important keys to keep in mind when trying to
put it all together.
First and foremost you really have spend a little time and identify
and locate likely areas that will help to concentrate fish. One of the
hottest late fall spots includes the base of the sharpest breaks and
drop offs you can find. The bottom edge of a sharp break can load with
major schools of fish late in the season and best of all they’re not all
that hard to find. With a good map you can quickly put a finger on the
spots most likely to produce and includes inside turns and points,
especially where contour lines pull in tight to each other indicating a
It’s easy enough to identify these spots on a map but it’s a
different story when you try to find them once you get on the water.
When you’re looking for a spot try to use any type of distinct shoreline
mark that you can pick up from the map and easily identify like in front
of a public access, or by lining up a point with an access, etc. It’s
going to take some investigative work and you’ll have to waste some of
your fishing time but it’s a job that has to be done.
There is an alternative that can save valuable time and includes the
use of a high definition graph combined with a G.P.S. and chart plotter
that can display a detailed map. The new Humminbird 987C combined with a
Navionics Gold Map can do just that and will show you exactly where you
are in relation to sharp breaks, inside turns, etc. This incredible
combination makes the job of spot finding a whole lot easier and
eliminates any doubt in regards to your exact location. The 987C is also
an incredible color graph that displays bottom, it’s density, baitfish,
and fish (especially those holding tight to the bottom). Walleyes
holding tight to the bottom along a break are easily overlooked and it
takes the right equipment to reveal their presence.
Team Crestliner Member Richie Boggs of Nisswa, Minnesota works sharp
breaks for late season walleyes but does it with a twist. Instead of
just looking for the sharpest drop offs, he’ll try to find fast breaks
near shallower weed flats and has found the combination to be extremely
productive. “A lot of anglers head for main lake structure and those
areas get pounded. I’ve found plenty of secondary spots in the backs of
bays and arms where weed flats drop sharply into deeper water that hold
good numbers of active walleyes and best of all I usually have them to
myself.” If weeds aren’t an option then you’ll have to stick with
“classic” structure but it would still be a good idea to try and find an
area that you can have to yourself, especially if you’re dealing with a
lot of pressure from other anglers.
Rigging is a top late fall technique and includes using live bait
rigs like the Northland Roach Rig adjusted to a medium length snell of
maybe three feet or so, along with a lively minnow like a red tail chub.
Red tails are Ritchie’s “go to” minnow and he takes special care to make
sure his designer bait is in tip top shape. “Good bait is expensive but
it can make a real difference in how may fish you put in the boat so you
better take care of it. My Crestliner 202 has a built in oxygenator that
releases dissolved oxygen and keeps finicky minnows like chubs and
shiners in perfect condition. I can keep minnows alive in the well for
days and even weeks, but they usually don’t last that long!”
Rigging the breaks includes dropping a live bait rig with a slip
sinker to the bottom and then slowly trolling along through likely areas
and trying to feel for anything unusual like maybe some extra weight. A
walleye picking up a minnow can be rather subtle at times, although they
do tend to hammer a red tail chub. If you do suspect that your bait has
been picked up you better drop the line and let the fish have some time
to completely take the bait before setting the hook. Missed fish means
more time is needed before the set and it can be quite a long wait when
they’re not all that aggressive. They’ll often pick it up and just sit
there, and sit there, before finally taking it all in. Set too soon and
you’ll come up empty.
Slow is the key to late season rigging and is where an electric
trolling motor can be absolutely invaluable. The Minn Kota Vector with
it’s 3X steering is ideal for slow trolling and gives you an incredible
amount of control. With an infinite range of speeds and a motor that can
be turned 360 degrees with a short back and forth stroke of the steering
handle the Vector allows you to achieve the perfect trolling speed while
staying on top of quick changing drop offs. Anglers that have opted for
consoles and steering wheels have heretofore given up a lot of their
control, but they don’t have to, not now.
The late fall season is going to be here and gone before you know it
so time’s of the essence. With a good map, a handful of chubs, a few
slip sinkers and a nice sunny afternoon and your all set. Getting on the
water late in the season can be extremely peaceful and is good for the
soul. Those that have been there and have had the pleasure know what
it’s about, and is why they keep coming back for more, year after year.
See you on the water.