While many anglers have already winterized their boats, the fall fishing season is well underway! There are plenty of species to target this time of year, and it’s when fish are at their fattest as they’re feeding up for the winter. I have a few favourite species to target in the fall, with one of the top choices being walleye. I’ve been having a blast chasing walleye recently out on Lake Ontario!
Although I am never in a hurry for summer to pass by, I was pretty anxious thinking about being able to fish later in to the season this year since upgrading my bass boat to a deep-v Alumacraft. The higher gunnels, matched with a Bimini top, have enabled me to get out on the cooler days, keeping me warm and dry. I had been out late in the season a lot in the past with friends on their boats, and even worked on a charter boat in the past. It’s been so much fun now having my own vessel for late season adventures. I’m excited and anxious for my next opportunity to get back out there!
It is especially important during this time of year with the cold water temperatures to approach big water (or any water for that matter) with caution. Wind is the biggest factor in whether or not I will be getting out on the big lake, because a large open body of water like Lake Ontario can get ugly pretty quickly. I keep my eye on the Weather Network’s marine forecast as well as use the Windfinder Pro app on my smartphone. When a day with low wind comes along, I make the best of it by getting out early and being on the water during low light, which is generally a key feeding time for walleye. I typically stay out for the evening low-light period as well.
Trolling is a great way to cover big water and does not have to be boring and aimless, as it may seem for some. In fact, it can get pretty technical if you want it to. Having a sonar on the boat can help you locate schools of fish, enabling you to make the most of your time by putting lures in front of fish instead of cruising in areas with nobody home. Knowing how deep the fish are in the water column is a good indication of how deep the lures should be running. I use line counter reels and the Precision Trolling Data app to set my lures to specific depths. It’s always good to cover a wide range in the water column (above and even below fish). I try various colours and styles of lures and then when a fish is picked up, I can adjust and try to repeat the results.
Planer boards are a wonderful tool and key for keeping multiple lines organized. Even with one or two lines, they are still beneficial. Planer boards steer lines out from the boat, which is ideal as you’ll often see fish scattering off to the sides when your boat rolls over them. On top of this, the boards are fun to watch when a fish strikes and they dance along the surface as the clicker on the reel sounds off. It’s certainly exciting and can even be a little chaotic when fishing with friends, and there are a lot of lines out that need to be cleared to make room for the fish to make its way to the net. It’s fun fishing with a group, and teamwork is definitely involved in getting these fish in.
I’ve primarily been fishing in 30 to 35 feet of water over the past couple of weeks, and during my last trip out the water temperatures were around 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Walleye have been suspended mid-level and high in the water column and have been quite active. The two best performing lures lately have been the Rapala Deep Jointed Husky Jerk (size 12) and the Berkley Flicker Minnow (both the size 9 and 11). Various colours have been working, but those with pink and purple have been getting the most action.
'Tis the season for big walleye, and Lake Ontario holds a respectable amount of fish over 10 pounds and bigger. I love catching these gold beauties just about as much as I enjoy seeing them swim away afterward to breed on and be caught again.