Fishing & Boating News

Babe Winkelman Fishing in October

by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Friday, September 11,1998 - ) Fall is a great time to go fishing. Gone are the wake-throwing water skiers, whining jet skis and fish-spooking speed boats. Gone, too, are most other fishermen. But best of all, fall means those trophy walleyes that played hide-and-seek all summer are finally catchable.

In fact, aside from the pre-spawn period -- when most lakes are closed to fishing anyway--October and November are the best times all year to catch an oversized walleye. The later it gets, the more active big fish become. Here are some tips for getting the job done.

While a variety of presentations produce trophy walleyes, it's tough to beat a leadhead jig or a Lindy Rig on most waters. With either it's a good idea to usee a wide-gapped hook to accommodate the bigger baits these late-season fish prefer.

By far the majority of fall lunkers I've caught munched a redtail chub. I like them between five and nine inches in length. Reluctant to use a bait that big? A walleye prefers forage that is 25 to as much as 40 percent of its body length. That means a 30-inch walleye prefers a meal in the seven to 12 inch range!

We used to say big fish are "larding up" for the cold-water period that lies ahead. They're looking to consume a lot of calories without expending a great deal of energy, and a lively redtail is just the ticket. For whatever reason, walleyes love'em.

Anglers like redtails, too, because they're so hardy. You can lop-hook a redtail after breakfast and it will still be kicking at lunchtime. A sucker, on the other hand, lasts about as long as your first cup of coffee. But if redtails aren't available, suckers and shiners will get the job done.

When fishing these big baits you'll have to feed some line after a strike. Walleyes will usually hit the bait sideways and swim off to swallow it. Play out line until the fish tops moving and it feels like your line wrapped around a rock.

In some bodies of water shad-like crankbaits, floating minnowbaits or Flatfish are deadly. Using a five or six-foot snell, tie up the bait behind a three-way rig or a bottom bouncer and drift or troll it slowly. While these presentations will work anywhere, they're especially deadly on bigger bodies of water.

Just as important as what you use is where you use it. In natural lakes and reservoirs, it's tough to beat rocky ledges that drop into deep water. In reservoirs, look for the edge of the old river or creek channel. In natural lakes, try a rocky point or island next to a pocket of deep water.

At this time of year walleyes can be about any depth. Don't be afraid to look in 40, 50 or even 70 feet of water. On the other hand, don't be afraid to toss a small jig into two or three feet of water. Big fall'eyes are pretty unpredictable when it comes to depth.

Night fishing produces lots of big walleyes. Look for a shallow sand flat, preferably one with moving water, like a creek or causeway. Pull on a pair of chest waders, strap a miner's light on your head and cast a floating minnowbait into the darkness. Or, plop yourself on shore and use a minnow or chub on a Lindy Rig or under a slip bobber.

Going river fishing? A jig drifted slowly along the bottom is perhaps the walleye-catchingest late-season presentation of all time. But don't be afraid to slowly troll a jig or shallow-running shad-type crankbait upstream in areas of reduced current. If you've ever dreamt of catching a 10 pound walleye, consider setting aside your scattergun, rifle, and yes, even the rake this fall and heading for a big-walleye lake. You might be glad you did.

Tune into Babe Winkelman's award winning television show "Outdoor Secrets" on superstation WGN at 1:00 am, Friday night, 9:00 am Saturday morning and 2:30 am Saturday night (all Central).

For information about Babe Winkelman's new club, "Society of Outdoor Sportsmen," call toll free 1-800-333-0471 ( Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Central) or write to S.O.S., PO Box 407, Brainerd, MN 56401.