Outdoors column: Trip tip for hot fall walleyes

There is a lot going on right now including plenty of decent hunting to be had along with some really good fishing opportunities.

High on my list is a trip to the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods out of Baudette for some hot fall walleye action. There are no guarantees but the fishing there at this time of the year can be pretty darn good and includes big fish along with lots of keepers.

Ron Anlauf decided to take cover and ran into this dandy river walleye.
Ron Anlauf decided to take cover and ran into this dandy river walleye.Submitted photo

One of the keys to the hottest action is a good shiner run and it sounds like it’s on. When the shiners run up the river the walleyes follow them in where they can be readily caught. On the other hand if the shiners stay out in the lake the action can be quite a bit tougher but even with that you can usually catch enough fish to make it fun.

To give you an example we made the trip last October and the shiner run wasn’t happening. There was fish to be caught in the lake but a hard northwest wind with accompanying snow squalls made it miserable to be out in the open.

After toughing it out and giving it more than enough time we finally decided to settle for the river action where at least the wind was partially blocked and we didn’t have to deal with three-footers pushing us around. The bite wasn’t red hot but it was steady and produced enough fish to keep us interested.

It goes against my type A personality but the local technique of anchoring and then lifting and dropping a jig and minnow proved to be the most effective method we used. A 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a minnow that’s lifted up six inches or so and dropped back to the bottom was exactly what the fish wanted. In the lake we fished out in front of the gaps and in the river we fished along the main river channel edges and on deeper flats.

Without a shiner run we were limited to using frozen minnows left over from last year’s run which were mushy when they thawed out and hard to keep on a hook. Out of frustration and a little curiosity I decided to the give some Northland Impulse Smelt Minnows a try and found that the fish hit it just as hard and let me keep my bait in the water longer because I didn’t have to keep threading on the dead stuff.

With the bite being off due to the conditions I did pinch about an inch off the three inch bait which helped me hook more of the short strikers. See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.