Fall offers the second-best time of year to catch walleyes in both quality and quantity. Small, shallow lakes across north country are cooling quickly by mid- to late September, thereby offering an excellent starting point for finding active biters.
Expect water temperatures to drop faster in large, shallow lakes followed by small, deep then large, deep lakes. The larger and deeper a lake, the later you can expect it to cool down – latitude being relatively equal, of course.
On small and large, shallow lakes, try these locations: green weed flats, weedlines, points, or sunken islands. If a lake has a strictly dishpan bottom contour – that is, lacking any significant structure – check current locations like the mouths of bays, or green weeds flats, or obvious inlets and outlets.
On lakes with fewer littoral acres but that run deep, target break lines that extend into subtle points. Especially work those that connect to deep water, sunken islands, large bays with green weeds, or inside turns of break lines.
Cast crankbaits into those green weed flats early in the morning but also check them during the day – depending on fishing pressure.
Another excellent option is to deploy live bait rigs with 4- to 6-inch chubs or shiners – use shorter snells and larger hooks, and tail-hook minnows to create the look and appeal of an injured food source.
In deeper water, you’ll see me using heavier jigs tipped with large fatheads or 3-inch suckers. Another absolutely prime option is three-way swivel rigs with a weight to contact bottom in depths of 30 feet or more. Use 4- to 5-foot snells and crankbaits. This is an excellent way to target walleyes in deep water for a very precise presentation.
Without question, walleyes can be swimming in depths of 30 to 50 in these deeper water bodies during autumn. Long-lining crankbaits especially at night on shallow lakes can be very productive. Also, try jigging shad raps wherever you find concentrations of walleyes, especially over deeper water.
Finally, boat control is very important when working deep lakes because you want to fish vertically to get baits in the strike zone and feel the bite. Good luck.