Fall Walleye Fishing in Iowa: Expert Tips and Techniques

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Fall walleye fishing in Iowa is a highly anticipated time for anglers. As the season changes, walleye become more active and aggressive, making it the perfect time to catch trophy-sized fish. Iowa’s numerous lakes and rivers offer excellent habitats for walleye, and the change in season triggers their natural feeding patterns.

To make the most out of fall walleye fishing in Iowa, anglers need to implement the right techniques. Using live bait rigs, selecting the best lures and baits, and understanding boat handling and anchoring are all essential for a successful fishing experience. There are numerous hotspots across Iowa, from interior rivers to the popular Mississippi River wing dams, providing diverse environments to target fall walleyes and enhance your fishing skills. With abundant walleye populations and favorable conditions, fall walleye fishing in Iowa is an opportunity not to be missed.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Fall walleye fishing in Iowa provides chances to catch trophy-size fish.
  • Understanding walleye behavior during autumn and using appropriate techniques are crucial for a successful fishing experience.
  • A variety of locations throughout Iowa offer excellent opportunities to target fall walleyes.

Where to Find Walleye in Iowa in Fall

Popular Lakes and Rivers Holding Walleye Including Precise Fishing Holes/Coordinates

In Iowa, fall is a great time for walleye fishing, with many lakes and rivers presenting excellent opportunities. Some popular fishing locations for walleye in Iowa include the Des Moines River, West Okoboji Lake, Storm Lake, Big Spirit Lake, Lake Rathbun, Black Hawk Lake, Big Creek Lake, and Brushy Creek Lake. Precise fishing holes or coordinates may not always be available, but a little research and exploration can help you find the perfect spot in these water bodies.

Structures to Target – Rock Piles, Submerged Trees, River Mouths, Weed Edges

When targeting walleye in the fall, certain structures tend to hold these fish. Deep structure and rock that protrudes out of the primary basin or off the old river channel in a reservoir are classic fall walleye fishing spots. Look for rock piles, submerged trees, river mouths, and weed edges. Walleye tend to associate with these structures, especially during fall transition periods.

How Seasonal Weather and Fronts Affect Walleye Location

As the season changes, so does the behavior of walleye. During late fall until ice up, some of the best walleye fishing occurs in deep, low-current overwintering areas. Walleye tend to move to these areas in response to the colder water temperatures and shorter days. Cold fronts often result in more sluggish walleye behavior, with slower retrieves and live bait being more effective in enticing them to bite.

By understanding the effects of seasonal weather patterns and targeting the appropriate structures, anglers in Iowa can successfully find and catch walleye during the fall months. Remember to always keep an eye on weather changes, as they can significantly impact walleye location and behavior. With a bit of research, preparation, and persistence, fall walleye fishing in Iowa can be a rewarding experience.

Fall Walleye Behavior and Feeding Patterns

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Fall Walleye Fishing in Iowa: Expert Tips and Techniques 4

Changes in Walleye Activity and Aggression as Water Cools

As water temperatures drop during the fall, walleye behavior and feeding patterns in Iowa change significantly. They tend to become more active and aggressive, seeking food before winter sets in. Due to the cooling waters, walleyes are found in deeper water, often in low-current overwintering areas. In these locations, they are more likely to pursue big baits and other prey to accumulate energy reserves.

Prime Morning, Evening, and Night Feeding Times

Fall walleyes are known to feed throughout the day. However, some prime feeding times occur during the early morning, evening, and even nighttime. These low-light periods provide walleyes the advantage in preying on baitfish, as their excellent vision allows them to spot and catch their prey more effectively. Anglers should focus on these timeframes for a higher chance of catching walleyes.

How Storms/Fronts Impact Feeding and Behavior

Storms and weather fronts can have a significant impact on walleye feeding behavior and patterns. Changes in atmospheric pressure and water conditions can alter their movements and feeding habits. In general, walleyes may become more aggressive and move to shallower waters during and after storms, providing anglers with an opportunity to catch them more readily.

In Iowa, popular locations for fall walleye fishing include the Mississippi River and its tributaries, as well as the Shell Rock River. Anglers should make use of medium-action rods with sensitive tips and focus on using jigs and crankbaits in natural colors that resemble local baitfish. By staying informed about water temperatures, prime feeding times, and the impact of weather on their behavior, anglers can increase their chances of success on their fall walleye fishing adventures.


  1. Understanding Fall Walleye Patterns
  2. Walleye Fishing – Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  3. How To Fish For Fall Walleyes – In-Fisherman
  4. Fall Fishing for Walleye: Expert Tips and Techniques for Success
  5. [PDF Foolin – Iowa Department of Natural Resources](https://www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/Iowa%20Outdoors%20Magazine/Fishing/files/FoolingFallWalleyes.pdf
  6. Fall Fishing for Walleye: Expert Tips and Techniques for Success

Fall Walleye Fishing Tips and Techniques

Recommended Rods, Reels, Line Pound Tests, and Tackle

When fall walleye fishing in Iowa, it is recommended to use a 7-foot, medium-power, fast-action rod with a 2500-series spinning reel. This setup provides the sensitivity needed to detect subtle bites from walleyes. For line strength, stick with a 10-15 pound test, as this strength is ideal for various fall fishing techniques. Suitable lures to try include the No.7 and No.9 Rapala Jigging Rap, Moonshine Lures Shiver Minnows, or lipless rattle baits like the No.6 Rapala Rippin’ Rap source.

Stealthy Fishing Approaches for Easily-Spooked Walleye

Walleyes can be easily spooked, so using a stealthy approach is crucial. Slow down your boat speed and minimize noise or vibrations when moving. Casting lures to specific structure locations and using slow retrieves can help entice walleyes without startling them. You can experiment with different types of jigs and minnows, like fathead minnows source.

Trolling Vs. Drifting Vs. Casting Methods

There are three primary methods for fall walleye fishing in Iowa: trolling, drifting, and casting. Each has its advantages depending on the situation. Trolling enables you to cover larger areas and target specific depths. Drifting allows you to fish in areas where trolling is not practical, and casting focuses your efforts on particular structure locations. It is recommended to try a combination of these methods when searching for fall walleyes.

Using Sinkers, Weights, Drift Socks in Windy Cold Conditions

Fall weather conditions can be unpredictable, with windy and cold days being common. Utilizing sinkers, weights, and drift socks can help improve your presentation during these conditions. Use appropriately sized sinkers or weights to keep your bait near the bottom, where walleyes are likely to be feeding. Drift socks can stabilize your boat against strong winds, ensuring a more consistent presentation and minimizing disturbances to the fish source.

Best Depths and Productive Structure Locations

Fall walleye fishing in Iowa will see you typically targeting depths between 35 to 55 feet source. In areas like the Mississippi River tailwater sections, walleyes can be found near rock piles, current breaks, and other structured locations as they prepare for spawning source. Familiarize yourself with local lake and river structure, and don’t be afraid to explore new spots as you search for the perfect fall fishing location.

Live Bait Rigs for Walleyes

Top Live Bait Choices – Minnows, Leeches, Nightcrawlers

When targeting walleyes in Iowa during the fall season, the top live bait choices include minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers. Minnows, particularly fathead minnows, and creek chubs are a popular choice due to their natural appeal to walleyes. Leeches are also effective, especially in cooler water temperatures, while nightcrawlers can be used as a versatile bait option.

Rigging Methods and Tips for Livelier Bait

There are a few rigging methods that can help present your live bait more effectively and keep it lively for longer periods. One popular method is using a live bait rig, also known as a sliding sinker rig. This setup typically involves a #2 Octopus hook tied to a 3-4 foot leader, a swivel, mainline braid, a bead, and an egg sinker. This setup allows the bait to move more naturally in the water, attracting more walleyes.

Another rigging option is the 3-way rig, which can be a useful method when using minnows as bait. It’s essential to make sure the hook is not too large, as it can restrict the natural movement of the minnow and make it less appealing to walleyes. The key to having livelier bait is using a sharp, fine-wired hook that not only penetrates through the bait with ease, but also allows it to move and swim freely.

Strategies to Keep Bait Near Bottom and in Strike Zones

When fishing for walleyes, it is crucial to keep the bait close to the bottom, as walleyes often stay near the lake or riverbed. Using a jig or a 3-way rig can help ensure your bait stays in the walleyes’ strike zones. Another effective method is fishing vertically with jigs or glide baits like the classic Jigging Rap or Salmo Rail Shad, which can be deadly on walleyes during the fall season.

When fishing structure with sharp breaks or ledges, focus on small shelves or fingers located within the break itself. These locations often hold fish, so keeping the bait close to the bottom and in their strike zones can significantly increase your chances of catching walleye4.


  1. The Hunt for Big Fall Walleyes – Iowa Great Lakes Outdoors
  2. Live Bait Tactics for Fall Walleyes – MidWest Outdoors
  3. Walleye Fishing – Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  4. Ten Tips for Fall Walleyes – MidWest Outdoors

Top Fall Walleye Lures and Baits

Walleye fishing in Iowa can be an exhilarating experience, especially during the fall season. In this section, we will discuss some of the top lures and baits to use for fall walleye fishing in Iowa, as well as specific recommendations and ideal colors and sizes for these lures.

Specific Crankbait, Jig, and Soft Plastic Recommendations

Crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastics are all effective lures for fall walleye fishing. Here are some recommendations for each type:


  • Shallow diving lipped crankbaits: These are perfect for targeting walleyes in shallow water or close to the surface.
  • Deep diving crankbaits: Great for reaching deeper depths and targeting walleyes near the bottom.


  • Vertical jigs: Effective for fishing along sharp-breaking structures where walleyes tend to gather in the fall, as mentioned in this source.
  • Glide baits: These are versatile and can trigger fish by mimicking an injured baitfish, which works well when walleyes are aggressive in the fall.

Soft Plastics:

  • Paddle tail minnow imitations: They can create realistic swimming motions to entice walleyes.
  • Grub-type lures: These lures provide an excellent slow and steady action that can attract walleyes in colder water temperatures.

Ideal Colors and Sizes for Fall Walleye

When selecting the perfect color and size for your walleye lures, keep the following tips in mind:

Colors for Walleye Lures:

  • Natural colors: Imitate common baitfish, such as shad or minnows, that walleyes typically prey on in the fall. Silver, white, and gray are good choices.
  • Bright colors: In low visibility or murky water conditions, try using bright colors like chartreuse, orange, and fluorescent yellow or pink to stand out and trigger strikes.

Sizes for Walleye Lures:

  • Larger sizes: During the fall, walleyes tend to target larger prey. Opt for larger-sized lures (3-5 inches) to match the size of the baitfish they are feeding on.
  • Match the hatch: Observe the natural forage in the specific body of water you are fishing in, and try to select lures that closely resemble the size and shape of the prevalent baitfish.

By using these specific lures and choosing appropriate colors and sizes, your fall walleye fishing experience in Iowa will be more successful and enjoyable.

Boat Handling and Anchoring Tips

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Fall Walleye Fishing in Iowa: Expert Tips and Techniques 5

Strategies for Positioning Boat Over Structures

When targeting walleye during the fall in Iowa, positioning your boat over structures is crucial for success. Walleye often associate with underwater structures like humps, drop-offs, and rock piles to feed on baitfish. As an angler, it’s important to find these areas and position your boat correctly to present your lures effectively. Use your depth finder to locate these structures, and then make successive casts to cover the area thoroughly. Remember to circle back and cover the same spot multiple times with different lure presentations to increase your chances of attracting a walleye.

Drift Socks/Planer Boards for Added Control

To stay on target when fishing for walleyes in Iowa, try using drift socks or planer boards. Drift socks can be attached to the side of your boat to help slow your drift and give you added control over boat speed. Planer boards, on the other hand, allow you to present multiple lines at different distances from the boat. This can be helpful when trolling for fall walleye and helps cover more water, increasing your chances of catching fish. Remember to set your lines at varying depths to explore the entire water column.

Quiet Electric Trolling Motor Tactics

Keeping noise to a minimum while walleye fishing in Iowa can be essential for success. Walleyes are sensitive to sound and can be easily spooked by excessive noise. Using a quiet electric trolling motor allows you to approach your fishing spots stealthily. When trolling with crankbaits, maintain a speed of around 1.0 to 1.2 mph and avoid sudden movements or sharp turns that could scare fish away. Also, ensure lights are off the water, as walleye can be easily startled by light presence source. By keeping a low profile and maintaining an unobtrusive approach, you can increase your chances of landing a trophy walleye during the fall season in Iowa.

Fall Walleye Fishing Hotspots in Iowa

Top Lakes and Rivers with GPS Waypoints

When it comes to fall walleye fishing in Iowa, there are several lakes and rivers that stand out. These hotspots are known for their productive fishing opportunities during the autumn months:

  1. Des Moines River: This river is known as a great location for walleye fishing, particularly near the Scott Street Dam and the Saylorville Dam (source).
  2. West Okoboji Lake: Part of the Iowa Great Lakes, this lake is a popular destination for fall walleye anglers, especially when using large creek chubs on octopus hooks (source).
  3. Storm Lake: Located in Buena Vista County, Storm Lake is another hotspot for fall walleye fishing (source).
  4. Big Spirit Lake: Another lake in the Iowa Great Lakes region, Big Spirit Lake is known for its great walleye fishing opportunities.
  5. Lake Rathbun: This large reservoir in Southern Iowa offers excellent fall walleye fishing.
  6. Black Hawk Lake: Located in Sac County, Black Hawk Lake is a popular destination for walleye anglers.
  7. Big Creek Lake: Near Polk City, Big Creek Lake offers good walleye fishing opportunities.
  8. Brushy Creek Lake: This lake in Webster County is known for its productive walleye fishing.

Structures, Depths, Baits/Lures for Each Hotspot

The key to successful fall walleye fishing in Iowa is understanding the structures, depths, and baits/lures for each hotspot.

Des Moines River: Fishing near dams, such as the Scott Street Dam and Saylorville Dam, offers deeper water and structures for walleye to congregate (source). Use jigs tipped with live baits like nightcrawlers, leeches, or minnows for the best results (source).

West Okoboji Lake and Big Spirit Lake: In the Iowa Great Lakes region, large creek chubs on octopus hooks are effective for catching walleye during the fall (source). Focus on fishing near underwater structures and drop-offs.

Storm Lake: For fall walleye fishing in Storm Lake, try using jigging techniques near underwater structures and varying depths to locate the fish.

Lake Rathbun and Black Hawk Lake: In these lakes, focus on fishing near underwater structures and drop-offs. Jigs tipped with live bait such as nightcrawlers, leeches or minnows are effective for catching walleye in these locations.

Big Creek Lake and Brushy Creek Lake: Walleye can be found near underwater structures and changes in depth. Use jigs tipped with live bait or crankbaits for the best results.

Remember to always follow local fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release when necessary. Enjoy the fall walleye fishing season in Iowa!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top spots for fall walleye fishing in Cedar Rapids?

Cedar Rapids offers many fishing spots for walleye enthusiasts. One of the prime locations for fall walleye fishing is the Cedar River. The river boasts various shoreline access points and boat ramps, providing ample opportunities for anglers. Target areas with brush piles, rock structures, and deep holes, as these are typically where walleyes gather during the fall months.

Which lakes in Dubuque, Iowa are great for fall walleye fishing?

In Dubuque, the Mississippi River is a popular walleye fishing spot, particularly near the wing dams. Backtrolling the upstream side of the wing dams with crankbaits can provide excellent walleye action. Additionally, the surrounding area of Dubuque has several lakes and reservoirs worth exploring for walleye fishing in the fall.

Where can I find walleye in northwest Iowa during the fall?

Northwest Iowa offers several prime walleye fishing locations, such as the Iowa Great Lakes. This chain of glacial lakes includes West Okoboji, East Okoboji, and Spirit Lake, which are known for excellent walleye fishing during the fall months. Look for areas with rock structures, drop-offs, and submerged vegetation where walleye are likely to be found feeding.

What are the best Iowa lakes for walleye fishing in the fall?

Some of the top lakes for fall walleye fishing in Iowa include:

  • Big Spirit Lake, known for its deep holes and rocky points.
  • Clear Lake, with its abundant underwater vegetation and submerged structure points.
  • West Okoboji Lake, offering crystal clear water and a variety of habitat for walleye.

Consider exploring these lakes and others along the Iowa Great Lakes chain for a successful walleye fishing experience.

What lures are most effective for catching walleye in late fall?

Late fall is an excellent time to use a variety of lures and techniques for walleye fishing. Some effective options include:

  • Jigs tipped with soft plastic grubs or live bait.
  • Crankbaits, which mimic baitfish and stimulate aggressive strikes from walleye.
  • Spinner rigs with live bait, such as minnows or nightcrawlers.

Remember to adjust your retrieval speed and vary the depth of your presentation to match the walleye’s behavior during the fall months.

What live bait works best for fall walleye fishing?

In the fall, walleye are often enticed by live bait such as fathead minnows, which can be used effectively on jigs, three-way rigs, or bottom bouncers. Other live bait options include nightcrawlers and larger leeches, which provide an enticing scent and action to attract hungry walleye in search of an easy meal. Remember to use a slow retrieve when fishing with live bait to increase your chances of success.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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