Each year, about this time, I like to look at the greatest fall fishing in Ohio. That can be found at Lake Erie.
Last week we discussed the state of the lake with tips about perch fishing. Today, it’s all about walleyes and I’ve asked Travis Hartman to come up with a few tips on the best way to catch a fall walleye. Hartman is a biologist with the state’s fisheries unit at Sandusky and an avid Lake Erie walleye angler.
Here are his tips:
— Early in the fall walleye can be caught by trolling either worm harnesses or crankbaits, but as the water temperatures drop, crankbaits become the most effective lure.
— Pay attention to your speed. Some days a wide range of speed will catch walleye, primarily from 1.2 mph to 1.8 mph. As the water temperature drops, you might need to drop to as low as 0.9 or 1.0 mph.
— Early in the fall, fish can be caught throughout the water column, and on any given day you need to cover the whole water column to figure out the best depth zone. As the fall progresses and the temperature drops, focus on the upper half of the water column. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees, the best bites are often late in the afternoon in the top 10 feet of water. Don’t miss the best fishing by running all of your baits too deep.
— Use your sonar to find the best mix of bait-fish with predator (walleye) “arches” around the baitfish. If you’re around too much bait, it can be hard to catch walleye, and if there are only walleye arches and no baitfish, you might be in an area where fish aren’t actively feeding. The best-case scenario is tightly schooled balls of bait in the top half of the water column with large walleye arches scattered around and in the bait. Trust your sonar and only fish where the conditions are right.
— Water clarity is key. The best water clarity is slightly stained with a green or white tint. I like to be able to see my big motor’s cavitation plate and prop through a green tint. If you can’t see the prop and there is a brown color, you probably want to keep looking. Fall winds and Lake Erie currents can mean lots of different water colors even in relatively small areas. Find the right water color with the right sonar marks and you’ll catch walleye. Taking time to look up the most recent satellite photos on the Internet will reduce your search time on the water.
— Historically the best fall area is from Kelleys Island to Vermilion. Early in the fall, the best fishing is often 10 to 15 miles offshore. Later, the best fishing moves inshore. Your best chance at fish over 10 pounds is usually in November from Cedar Point to Ruggles Reef in 30 to 45 feet of water.
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