It’s no secret that walleye can be very active after dark, but there’s a pattern that happens every fall on many water systems where you can encounter some of the best fishing of the year. And you’ll have more opportunities for big fish that are leaving the comfort of their deep water summer homes. No matter if you’re a boat angler, or shore angler, there’s an opportunity for you in late fall to target big walleye. Shallow suspending jerkbaits like the new Salmo Rattlin’ Sting are the ticket.
Find the Bait – Find the fish
As the nights get longer and colder, baitfish gather into large schools and migrate into shallow water. Shad, shiners, spottails, and many other species follow this pattern. Rocky river edges, wind-blown points, creek mouths, marinas, and cuts are all suitable locations for locating baitfish. If you can find these schools after dark, there’s no doubt that walleye, pike, and other predator species will be right behind them and gorging all night.
At this time of year, walleye are really putting on the feed bag to fatten up for winter. This pattern typically starts in October, but the best fishing is usually at the end of fall right before ice up. These can be excellent early ice fishing locations at night as well and perfect for jigging the Salmo Chubby Darter.
The Light Effect
While it isn’t necessary, some light can be the difference maker in having a banner night. A full moon, dock light, street light, or even hanging a lantern can really help. Walleye can see very well in the dark, but overhead lighting gives the lure a silhouette from underneath, and really makes it stand out. An added bonus is that bait fish are naturally attracted to light sources. It isn’t uncommon to see walleye and pike sharking on bait near dock lights this time of year.
The suspending feature of the Salmo Rattlin’ Sting is what makes it the perfect bait for these nighttime walleye. When you pause this lure, it stops in its tracks and holds its depth perfectly. Add in the Salmo Infinity Cast System and you’re able to cover more water than traditional jerkbaits. A very slow retrieve with twitches, and pauses is what you’re looking for. It’s not uncommon to get a strike when letting the lure sit in place for multiple seconds. You should feel the loud internal rattles on every twitch, this helps draw the fish in.
The bite is often very subtle, so I like to use a rod with soft tip, braided line, and a fluorocarbon leader for detecting strikes and driving hooksets. It isn’t possible to fish the lure too slow in this application, but in clearer water you can get away with working the lure a little faster. In dirty water conditions, it is imperative to fish as slow as you can, with even longer pauses.
Often times, you will get strikes towards the end of your retrieve near the shore or your boat. These fish are certainly not ready to be landed yet, so it is important to keep your rod tip down. They will try to head shake violently on the surface and keeping your rod down will help keep them in the water and hooked. The super sharp and sticky Mustad KVD Triple Grip hooks on the Rattlin’ Sting really help you in these situations and keep these walleye buttoned up.
If you’re willing to brave the conditions, this can be the some of the most rewarding fishing. In the right conditions, you can catch lots of numbers of quality fish with consistent action that can last all night long. Once you find the right locations, you can count on this pattern year after year, and the Salmo Rattlin’ Sting will help you catch more fish.