Sounds of the Northwoods
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WALLEYES AT NIGHT

by Bob Jensen

 

Fishing after the sun goes down is a foreign concept to a lot of anglers, and there’s good reason for that. An angler certainly can’t see as well as night as they can during the day, so simple tasks like tying on a new lure gets a little more complicated. There are lots of reasons why an angler might not want to go fishing at night. In fact, there’s only one reason that I, from time to time, get the urge to go fishing after supper. That reason is, in some bodies of water, especially in the fall, walleyes go on a very good night-bite. When you hit it right, the action can be outstanding, and if you’re on big-fish water, the odds of catching a big one can be as good as the odds get for catching a big one. One of the biggest walleyes I’ve ever caught came at night. No doubt about it, there are times when fishing under the moon will be a good idea.

If your primary goal is to catch a really big walleye, the best location will be large, deep lakes with clear water. Not always, but often. Lakes such as this are home to baitfish that make the walleyes fat. The food in deep, clear lakes make walleyes heavy, and because the water is clear, the walleyes can often be easier to catch at night.

There’s another reason why the walleyes go on a night-bite in the fall. The baitfish that make the walleyes grow big are fall spawners. They’re in the shallows laying their eggs at a time of year when the walleyes are interested in adding some fat to their body to get them through the winter months. Those baitfish are very susceptible to hungry walleyes when they’re in those shallow areas. The fall-spawning baitfish will usually spawn in shallow water that is close to deep water. Shorelines or off-shore shallow sand or rock areas will be good starting points.

In lakes that don’t have fall spawning baitfish, a night-bite can still occur. Look for areas with current. Go out during the day to current areas and see if baitfish are present. If they are, walleyes will visit at night.

If you’ll be fishing from a boat, keep your gear to a minimum. You don’t want or need extra stuff that you can trip over. And know where all your gear is in the boat. You don’t want to be looking for baits or hook-outs or line-cutters at night when the fish are biting.

If you’ll be wading, check out the area for rocks or logs under the water that you could trip on. Get to your spot before the sun goes down and get set up. Keep quiet. When fish are shallow, they’re oftentimes spooky.

Lure selection is simple. Jerkbaits will catch walleyes. So will jigs tipped with plastic, something like an eighth ounce Slurp! Jig and a three inch Impulse® Swim’n Grub. Keep your lure choices simple.

Not many anglers take advantage of this night-bite for walleyes, but it is popular in a few areas. Before the water gets hard, find out for yourself why there are some anglers who enjoy this way to catch walleyes.

PHOTO CAPTION—This South Dakota night-bite walleye ate a Slurp! Jig tipped with plastic.

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