Chasing fall walleyes provides big opportunity for anglers
Fall is filled with opportunities for those who love the outdoors in the Alexandria area, and maybe the one that gets put on the backburner the most is fishing.
After months of battling boat traffic through the summer, most anglers are content to winterize their boat and grab a bow or a shotgun.
"So many people are duck hunting and bowhunting and deer hunting," Alexandria's Drake Herd said. "They're doing all the other things. Fall is such a great time around the Alex area. We try to do the triple—we will duck hunt the mornings, fish the afternoons and bow hunt the evenings. By Sunday, you're usually dead, but it's fun."
Those who subtract fishing from the equation are missing out, Herd believes.
He grew up fishing the Alexandria area as a young kid and has guided for years. Herd fishes the Cabela's National Walleye Tour and says the fall bite for walleyes can be as good as any time of year, including the popular spring bite after opener.
"Just because those fish are so aggressive," he said. "In the spring, they're coming off the spawn. Now they're getting into their winter patterns and they're feeding like none other. I think they're healthier, they're more feisty come fall."
It's not just numbers, either. Fall is a time of year when big walleyes can be the most active.
"They're trying to eat as much as they can before ice up," Herd said. "Those big fish are just constantly feeding, but it's still a morning and evening thing more so than an afternoon or daytime thing. But I definitely think the big fish feed a lot more."
Herd said his No. 1 approach in the fall is to find whatever green weeds are left.
"If there's any green weeds whatsoever, those fish will be hunkered anywhere in that 12-15 feet of water, basically," he said. "As the water gets colder, they're moving toward where they're going to be in the winter, so they're going to be on deep break lines in 20-30 feet of water, too."
Anglers have some options when it comes to targeting walleyes in the fall. A jig and a minnow is the popular approach, and one Herd says he uses almost 80 percent of the time once water temperatures get into the high 50s.
"The other option you got is trolling after dark," Herd said. "It's not for the faint of heart, but we catch a lot of big fish doing that. Baits like Husky Jerks, stuff that doesn't have a real aggressive action, more subtle because they're starting to slow down, and they just want an easy meal. If you roll that thing by their face, generally they're going to eat it."