For northern anglers, nothing gets the grease frying faster than talking about walleye. Michigan guide Chris LeMessurier loves to fish for walleye in the fall. As the water cools, the fish move close to shore. For LeMessurier, trolling stickbaits is the best way to get fast action and catch some tasty walleye this fall season.
Fishing Tips to Catch Fall Walleye
Fall Walleye Tactics
When fall sets in, walleye move within a half mile of shore—within striking distance for a kayak angler. When the water temperature drops below 50 degrees, minnows, shiners and shad concentrate in water from six to 12 feet deep. The best fishing is early in the morning and just before dark.
Trolling stickbaits is the most efficient way to cover water and find walleye on a big, open lake. Trolling allows me to fish and look for clues at the same time. I run two rods, one off each side of the kayak. This doubles my chances for a bite and balances the resistance on the kayak.
The smell of clean water, the sound of bait splashing at the surface or the appearance of structure on my fish finder are all signs conditions are right. As I paddle, I look for sparse, vertical weeds on my fish finder. Locating a submerged boulder pile or rock reef is even better. When I find good structure, I mark a waypoint on my fish finder.
Tackle for Walleye Fishing
Rod and Reel
A seven-foot, medium-action conventional rod with a fast tip helps detect any change in the cadence of the lure that might indicate the lure is fouled. I can also see a light bite with the stiff rod. To set the lure at an exact distance from the kayak, I use a size 20 Cabelas DepthMaster or Daiwa AccuDepth level wind reel with line counter.
Line and Leader
I spool the reel with 30-pound test and add two feet of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. To attach the lure to the leader, I use a snap swivel to allow the lure to swim freely.
I like mid-range diving stickbaits. Some of my favorites are Storm ThunderSticks, Reef Runners and Rapala Tail Dancers. In addition to attracting walleye, the stickbait will draw in trout, salmon, northern pike and bass.
Rigging and Outfitting
To handle Lake Erie chop, use a 12- to 14-foot-long kayak. I use a Wilderness Systems Radar 135 with Helix PD pedal system for a balance of stability with seaworthiness. The pedal drive makes trolling easier and more effective by maintaining a constant speed.
For trolling, I use a gear track-mounted RAM Mounts Spline Post that cradles the rod securely while making it easy to remove the rod when I see a bite. A side-imaging sonar and GPS provide detailed images of structure and fish. The GPS also provides an accurate reading of my trolling speed.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Trolling stickbaits is the most efficient way to cover water and find walleye on a big, open lake. | Feature photo: Chris LeMessurier