The Last Open Water trip of the year




The incredible string of great fall weather up until last week extended the open water fishing season for many anglers. With a change in the weather this week though, it’s almost time to think about ice fishing but not quite. A couple friends and I took advantage of the great weather in mid November to head out to Pine Falls and Traverse Bay. A southeast wind was blowing at about 15 knots but with comfortable temperatures it was a special day to be on the water. As we headed out to the first small island in the bay itself I took a quick look around on the sonar to see if any fish were marking. In order to cover some water we decided to drift in twelve to fourteen feet of water with jigs. After a couple of bites with no fish landed, we dropped anchor. After fifteen minutes with no fish, we headed further out into the bay. In the past I had considerable luck fishing the north side of the river channel in an area that had a sharp drop from shallow to deep water. Marked Number 002 on my Humminbird GPS this spot seems to consistently produce good walleye fishing. I believe the walleye like to hold on the edge of the river channel waiting for the current to wash baitfish into this area. It doesn’t hurt also that there’s a dip in the channel which tends to funnel baitfish into this one area. After carefully positioning the boat, I got friend Darrin Bohonis to drop the heavy anchor in twenty one feet. Watching my depthfinder carefully, I waited for the boat to drift back into fifteen feet before telling him to tie off the anchor rope. Luckily the anchor held and we seemed perfectly position on the side of the drop-off. Sure enough, we soon started marking fish on the electronics with Darrin setting the hook on the first fish of the day, a solid twenty three inch emerald green specimen. While the bite was not hot and heavy we patiently waited for travelling schools of walleye to pass under our boat. It seemed that about every half an hour a new school of fish would come by and we would land about three fish during a short brief period. On this particular day we found 3/8 ounce orange and chartreuse jigs the best. These were tipped with a Gulp smelt minnow as well as a salted shiner minnow. Darrin and Steven Wintemute were using monofilament line but I switched to Fireline though I usually prefer monofilament for jig fishing. We all caught about the same amount of fish, though Steven managed to land five different species including sauger, white bass, pike, perch and of course walleye.
Personally I have found that in the colder water temperatures of late fall (below 43 F), fishing for walleye from an anchored position is by far the most effective technique if you can locate areas that areas holding fish. Smell also becomes an important consideration at this time of year. Darrin was spraying his bait with a scent product while I made sure to wash my hands periodically with a no-scent soap that takes away any unwanted odor off of your hands. Jigging technique is also critical. I had great luck putting my rod in a holder. I positioned the jig so that it was slightly off the bottom. With the swells slightly smaller than two feet, the jig was being lifted and dropped on a regular basis, with it touching bottom on the lowest dip of the boat. This also produced a double hitch which really seemed to trigger an aggressive bite. This was also the key last week when fishing on Tobin Lake. Friend Jim Price and I triggered aggressive bites from a lot of huge walleye using a simple long lift, drop to bottom, then double twitch of the rod tip. Wham!!! Give it a try when cold water jig fishing.