River Fishing for Walleye in the Fall: Expert Tips and Techniques

rall walleye river PIC

As the fall season approaches, avid anglers look forward to the thrill of river fishing for walleye. With the changing weather conditions, the autumn months offer unique opportunities and challenges for fishermen seeking to catch these elusive fish. The cooler waters attract walleyes, who move upstream as water temperatures drop, offering exciting angling opportunities in various river environments.

To increase your success during river fishing for walleye in the fall, it’s essential to understand their behavior in the changing season. By adequately preparing and knowing the right techniques, bait, and river landmarks, you can have a fruitful and enjoyable fishing experience. Along with mastering your fishing skills, adapting to varying water conditions and navigating different river systems are crucial factors in making your fall walleye fishing endeavor successful.

Key Takeaways

  • Walleye behavior varies in the fall season, so adapting your fishing techniques and bait choices is essential.
  • River landmarks are crucial in locating prime walleye fishing spots, enhancing your chances of catching these elusive fish.
  • Adapting to variations in water conditions and navigating different river systems are vital skills for successful fall walleye fishing.

Understanding Walleye Behavior in Fall

Walleyes’ Movement Patterns

In autumn, walleyes change their movement patterns due to the changing water temperatures and varying food sources. They usually shift from shallow feeding areas to deeper waters, where they are more likely to find schools of baitfish such as shiners or perch. This migration can cause walleyes to become more active and aggressive in feeding, making them more receptive to anglers’ lures and presentations. A critical factor in locating fall walleyes is understanding the current, as they often position themselves strategically to ambush prey brought by the water flow.

Effect of Water Temperature on Walleye

Water temperature plays a critical role in the behavior of walleyes during the fall season. As the temperature drops, walleyes’ metabolism starts slowing down, prompting them to search for more food to store energy for the upcoming winter months. Consequently, anglers can benefit from observing water temperature changes and adapting their strategies accordingly.

When the water temperature falls to the mid-50s Fahrenheit, walleyes usually increase their feeding activity. This allows anglers to capitalize on their heightened appetite using lures that mimic their natural prey. As the water temperature decreases, approaching the low 40s, walleye might become less aggressive, requiring more patience and persistence from anglers.

Observing their movements and behavior closely is important to catch walleyes during the fall season. Keep an eye on the water temperature as it affects their activity levels. Adjusting your tactics and presentations to these factors can improve your chances of catching walleyes.

Preparing for River Fishing in the Fall

rall walleye river PIC.jpg2
River Fishing for Walleye in the Fall: Expert Tips and Techniques 6

Spotting Prime Walleye Locations

When river fishing for walleye in the fall, it’s essential to identify prime locations to increase your chances of success. Walleye congregate around dams, rocky areas, and near river mouths. These structures create current breaks, which attract baitfish and, ultimately, walleye. Use your electronics like a GPS and fish finder to help locate these hotspots more efficiently.

It’s also important to know how changing temperatures affect walleye behavior. On sunny days with water temperatures below 56 degrees, walleye may be more active. However, when water temperatures are higher, look for overcast days with some chop in the water for the best chances.

Equipment Necessary for Walleye Fishing

You’ll need the right equipment to succeed in fall walleye fishing. Here’s a list of essentials for your river fishing adventures:

  • Boat control: A trolling motor with precise speed and steering control is critical for navigating rivers effectively. This allows for easier exploration of river structures and maintaining an ideal position for casting.
  • Rod and reel: Medium to medium-heavy power and fast action rods are ideal for casting crankbaits, spoons, and bucktail spinners. Pair them with a quality reel with a smooth drag system for optimal performance.
  • Lures: Use large crankbaits like the Rapala Shad Rap or X-Rap Magnum for fall walleye fishing. Spoons or bucktail spinners like Cabela’s Canadian or Nitro Spin are also effective.
  • Tackle: Have a variety of terminal tackle on hand, such as swivels, snap-locks, and different sizes of treble hooks for various lure presentations.
  • Electronics: Equip your boat with a fish finder, GPS, and a sound mapping system. This helps to identify prime fishing locations’ depth changes and allows for better navigation.

Remember that fall walleye fishing can be a rewarding experience, especially when you’re well-prepared. Make the most of your river fishing adventure by thoroughly scouting the area, using the right equipment, and adapting to the changing conditions.


  1. MidWest Outdoors ↩
  2. MeatEater Fishing ↩
  3. Game & Fish ↩
  4. MeatEater Fishing ↩

Choosing Your Bait for Walleye Fishing

The right bait choice can make all the difference in fall river walleye fishing. This section will discuss live and artificial bait options to help you catch more walleye during your fall river fishing adventures.

Live Bait Options

One of the top choices for live bait when fishing walleye are minnows. Fall walleye prefer larger baitfish to prepare for winter, so don’t be afraid to use bigger minnows in shallow or deep areas. Another effective live bait option is leeches, as they, too, can yield success in catching walleye.

Here are some live bait options to consider:

  • Minnows (shiner, chub, or fathead)
  • Leeches
  • Nightcrawlers

Keep in mind that using live bait requires special attention to bait presentation, as well as the use of proper hooks and rigs.

Artificial Bait Choices

When it comes to artificial baits, there’s quite a variety to choose from. Use jigs such as the Rapala Shad Rap or a bucktail spinner for shallow river fishing. These can be very effective in fall, as walleye are more focused on feeding on baitfish during this season.

Deep-diving crankbaits such as the Rapala Shad Rap or the X-Rap Magnum can be particularly effective in deeper river areas during the fall. These lures mimic the larger, deeper swimming baitfish that walleye are hunting.

Apart from hard baits like cranks and jigs, soft plastics like the Gulp Minnow or plastic shad can also attract attention from hungry walleye in river environments. These plastics often closely resemble the live baitfish that walleye are feeding on.

In summary, consider these artificial bait options:

  • Crankbaits (Rapala Shad Rap, X-Rap Magnum)
  • Jigs (like bucktail spinners)
  • Soft plastics (Gulp Minnow, plastic shad)

Selecting the appropriate bait for your fall river walleye fishing trip will significantly increase your chances of a successful catch. Don’t forget to consider factors like water temperature, depth, and the walleye’s natural prey when making your bait decision.

Techniques for Catching Walleye

1412d9c9 0574 4274 a7fe 169de373ee66
River Fishing for Walleye in the Fall: Expert Tips and Techniques 7

If you’re looking for a fun and rewarding way to spend a fall day, river fishing for walleye is an excellent choice. This section will overview the three primary techniques for catching walleye: trolling, jigging, and casting.

Trolling Method

One popular technique for catching fall walleye is trolling, which involves pulling your bait behind the boat through the water imitating the movement of fish. This method effectively targets walleyes because it covers a large area and allows you to experiment with different depths and speeds. When trolling, consider using crankbaits, as they work well for enticing walleye to bite in the autumn months. Trolling crankbaits can be particularly successful in open water or even upriver.

Jigging Technique

Another approach favored by walleye anglers is jigging. This technique is perfect for fishing specific spots where walleye like to hold in the river, like near underwater structures, vegetation, or drop-offs. Vertical jigging with a jig and minnow is an effective way to target walleye at various depths. When selecting jigs for walleye, consider using jigs that mimic their favorite fall prey, like baitfish or smaller forage species. To achieve success, drop your jig to the desired depth and then use short, quick movements to make it irresistible.

Casting Approach

Lastly, the casting approach is perfect for anglers who want to use artificial lures and cover varying depths. When using the casting method, throw your lure upstream of where you suspect walleye might be hiding, such as near structures or current breaks. Large crankbaits like the Rapala Shad Rap or the X-Rap Magnum and classic spoons or bucktail spinners like Cabela’s Canadian or a Nitro Spin are excellent fall walleyes. Remember, patience and versatility in your casting approach can result in a fantastic day of fishing.

Trolling, jigging, and casting techniques can lead to successful fall river walleye fishing. You’ll have a memorable angling adventure using appropriate bait and lures.

Understanding and Using River Landmarks

When fishing for walleye in the fall, it’s essential to understand the rivers’ various landmarks and how to utilize them effectively. Let’s discuss some key features that can impact a successful fishing experience.

Recognizing and Utilizing Holes

Deep holes are one of the primary river landmarks to look for when fishing for walleye in the fall. These areas often have the walleye congregating around them, looking for food and seeking the colder water at the bottom. Deeper holes can be found near rock piles, gravel bars, reefs, and fingers. As the water temperature drops, walleyes move into these holes for shelter and feed more aggressively (source).

When you locate a deep hole, try fishing along the lip or breakline where the depth changes. Walleyes will often be found near these areas, waiting for their prey. Utilize techniques such as bottom bouncing or jigging to target walleyes residing in the depth of these holes effectively.

Importance of Bends in Rivers

Bends in rivers are another essential landmark to remember when fishing for walleye in the fall. The reasoning behind this is that the bends create current breaks, which can provide shelter and feeding opportunities for the walleye. Bends also cause shifts in the water’s flow, which can result in the accumulation of essential fish-attracting structures like boulders, deeper water pockets, and flats.

To maximize your chances of landing walleye in the bends, consider the following tips:

  • Look for changes in the water depth or structure near the bend, such as sudden drops, rocky outcroppings, or areas of reduced flow.
  • Pay attention to wind or weather conditions that impact the current and create turbidity near the bend.
  • Cast your lure upstream and let it drift into the bend, ensuring it remains near the bottom to attract the walleye.

By effectively understanding and utilizing these river landmarks, you’ll have a higher chance of success when fishing for walleye in the fall. Remember these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to catching those elusive fall walleyes.

Dealing with Variations in Water Conditions

Adapting to Different Water Colors

Adapting to varying watercolors is crucial when fishing for walleye in the fall. In clear water, walleye can be more easily spooked by movement or noise, so it is vital to approach these fishing spots with caution. On the other hand, in murky or stained water, walleye rely more on their sense of lateral line and smell to find food, which means that using scented bait and vibration-producing lures can significantly enhance your chances of a successful catch.

Another tactic to consider when dealing with different watercolors is adjusting the color of your lure to match the water conditions. In clear water, natural and subtle-colored lures are ideal, while in darker or stained water, it is best to use bright or fluorescent lures to increase visibility.

Impact of Changing Water Temperatures

As water temperatures drop in the fall, walleye behavior changes. In early fall, when water temperatures are in the higher 50s or above, walleye are generally more active on cloudy days with a little chop. However, when water temperatures are 56 degrees or below, calm and sunny days can be more productive.

Focus on areas with contour changes and current breaks to maximize your chances of catching walleye during these cooler temperatures. These spots can hold higher concentrations of fish seeking refuge from strong currents and cooler water. Monitoring water temperatures can also help you predict when walleye will be more actively feeding and, thus, more likely to strike your lure or bait.

In addition to water color and temperature, changes in water levels can influence walleye fishing success. Higher water levels can give walleye more access to flooded shoreline areas with dense vegetation, which may offer better feeding opportunities. In contrast, lower water levels can concentrate fish in deeper sections or near structures, leading to more predictable and targeted fishing.

By adapting to varying water conditions such as color, temperature, and level and considering factors like contour and current breaks, you can improve your chances of hooking up with some walleye in the fall.


  1. Themeateater – How to Catch Walleye in Rivers ↩
  2. Sportsmansguide – Fall River Walleye Tactics ↩
  3. Game & Fish – Top Tips For Fall Walleye Fishing ↩
  4. Midwestoutdoors – River Walleyes and Saugers: Fishing the Fall Bite ↩
  5. Fishingwire – Can’t-Miss Techniques for Late-Summer and Early-Fall Walleyes ↩

Effect of Seasonal Changes on Walleye Fishing

414a4db5 7dd1 4433 85dd 0c7e65405406
River Fishing for Walleye in the Fall: Expert Tips and Techniques 8

Comparing Spring and Fall Walleye Behavior

Both spring and fall are ideal seasons for walleye fishing in rivers, but the fish exhibit distinct behaviors each season. In spring, walleyes primarily focus on spawning; in fall, they aim to consume more food to prepare for winter.

During the spring spawning run, walleyes can be found in shallow water with gravelly or rocky bottoms, making them somewhat easier to locate. In the fall, however, walleyes and saugers migrate up the river and search for deeper holes to inhabit as water temperatures drop. This behavior can make fall walleye fishing more challenging and rewarding as they feed more aggressively.

Summer to Fall Transition and Its Impact

As the seasons transition from summer to fall, the transition plays a significant role in walleye fishing. Water temperatures, bait species, and weather conditions all impact fish behavior during this period.

In October and November, cooler temperatures attract baitfish like minnows to rocky shoreline areas and reefs. This baitfish migration, in turn, entices walleyes to gather in these locations to feed. Anglers should focus on those areas for the best chances of success.

Moreover, be prepared for unpredictable weather during fall walleye fishing. Although unpleasant conditions may deter some anglers, it is essential to remember that the tougher the conditions, the better the fishing can be. So, despite the challenges, fall fishing can offer a rewarding experience for the dedicated angler.


  1. River Walleyes and Saugers: Fishing the Fall Bite ↩
  2. Walleye Seasonal Movements: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Their Patterns ↩
  3. How to Catch Walleye in Rivers ↩
  4. Understanding Fall Walleye Patterns – Lurenet ↩
  5. Ten Tips for Fall Walleyes – MidWest Outdoors ↩

Navigating Different Midwest River Systems

Mississippi River Walleye Fishing

The Mississippi River, flowing through parts of the Midwest such as Wisconsin, offers fantastic fishing opportunities for walleye in the fall. As the weather gets cooler, many anglers use this time to target these fish in various river sections. Using large crankbaits and jigs in several locations can be highly effective, mainly when focusing on structures like wing dams, rocky points, and river bends.

The changing water levels in the Mississippi River often lead to fish being assembled in small areas, which makes your walleye fishing adventure potentially more rewarding. Just remember to monitor the river’s current and water temperature while navigating different sections, as both factors can influence the movement and location of walleye.

Great Lakes’ Walleye Fishing Opportunities

In addition to the Mississippi River, the Midwest’s Great Lakes region offers numerous fall walleye fishing opportunities. Lakes like Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie have diverse depths and structures where walleye typically reside during the fall months. One prime example of a walleye hotspot in the Great Lakes region is the Detroit River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.

In the Great Lakes, anglers can employ various techniques to catch walleye, depending on their preferences and familiarity with the waters. Trolling, jigging, and casting are popular methods to target these fish in the lakes. Some favorite lures for fall walleye in the Great Lakes include Bucktail spinners and spoons, which are highly effective when used in areas with transition lines or changing depths.

To make the most of your fall walleye fishing experience in Midwest river systems, it’s essential to be well-prepared and research the unique characteristics of each waterbody. This knowledge and various techniques and lures will help you make the most of the fall walleye fishing opportunities in the Midwest’s Mississippi River and Great Lakes systems.

Advanced Walleye Fishing Techniques

rall walleye river PIC.jpg3
River Fishing for Walleye in the Fall: Expert Tips and Techniques 9

This section will explore some effective water-fishing techniques for walleye in the fall. Advanced methods, such as efficiently operating a trolling motor and interpreting sonar, can significantly improve your chances of success.

Effectively Using a Trolling Motor

A trolling motor is crucial in controlling the boat’s position and movement while fishing for walleye. Knowing how to use it effectively to optimize your catches is essential. One highly effective technique is the “controlled drift” method, which involves using the trolling motor to maintain a slow and steady speed against the river’s current. This allows you to cover a larger water area and focus on critical spots like wing dams and drop-offs where walleyes are more likely to congregate.

Adjust the trolling motor’s speed to ensure the lures achieve the intended action in the water when using stick baits, such as Wally Divers and Reef Runners. A slow speed is best for targeting the most active walleyes in the fall season. Additionally, consider using a super line with a low-stretch characteristic, which enhances sensitivity and hook-setting ability when using a trolling motor.

Interpreting Sonar for Walleye Fishing

Walleye anglers can greatly benefit from using a sonar device to locate fish and identify underwater structures, such as reefs, submerged trees, and rock piles. Sonar devices emit sound waves that bounce off objects in the water and return a signal, forming a visible image indicating the presence and depth of fish and structure.

To interpret these sonar images effectively, it’s essential to understand how walleye position themselves in the fall. Walleyes often face up into the current and gather around structures that provide shelter from the flow, such as wing dams and drop-offs. By reading the sonar images, you can identify these potential hotspots and make targeted casts, significantly increasing your chances of success.

When using sonar to locate walleye, look for large numbers of fish schools or individual fish signals. In the fall, walleye gather in larger groups, making identifying them on the sonar screen easier. Once you’ve located a promising area, use the trolling motor to maintain your position and make accurate casts to tempt the walleye to bite.

In conclusion, mastering advanced techniques like effectively using a trolling motor and interpreting sonar can significantly enhance your walleye fishing experience in the fall. By understanding and applying these methods, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your time on the water and catch more walleye.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best techniques for fall walleye in rivers?

Fall is a great time to catch walleye in rivers as they migrate upstream towards their spawning grounds. Some effective techniques include using a jig and minnow combination, trolling crankbaits, and employing slip bobber rigs. Drifting and vertical jigging with live bait can also produce results. Remember to locate walleyes in areas with rocky bottoms, current breaks, and depth changes.

How does water temperature affect walleye biting in fall?

As water temperatures drop, walleye usually become more active and feed aggressively. They seek warmer pockets of water to find abundant food sources. Look for temperatures between 50Β°F and 55Β°F to maximize your chances of getting a bite. Remember that colder water will make walleye somewhat more lethargic and selective in feeding habits.

Which baits work best for walleye in autumn?

Walleyes are known to be opportunistic feeders and can be caught using a variety of bait. In the fall, they’re often attracted to minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers, making live bait highly effective. Artificial lures such as crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastics can be successful when matched with the right presentation and location.

How to rig a line for successful fall walleye fishing?

There are several ways to rig your line for fall walleye fishing. A popular method is the jig and minnow setup, with a jig head and a live or soft plastic minnow on the hook. Slip bobber rigs can also be used for a more finesse approach, allowing your bait to be suspended just above rocky structures where walleye may be hiding. Trolling with crankbaits and various spinner rigs can also be effective, especially for covering larger areas.

Can you catch walleye from shore in the fall?

It is possible to catch walleye from the shore during the fall season. Look for spots where rivers and streams enter the main body of water, as these areas often attract walleye due to the concentration of baitfish. Night fishing can be particularly productive, as walleyes move into the shallows to feed under the cover of darkness. Using lures or bait rigs that can be cast long distances may increase your chances of success.

What makes fall spillway fishing effective for walleye?

Fall spillway fishing can be effective for walleye due to the unique environmental factors present in these areas. The increased water flow attracts baitfish, leading walleye to congregate in these locations to feed. The turbulence and oxygenation of the water may also trigger feeding responses in walleyes. Be aware of safety concerns near spillways and follow regulations and guidelines regarding appropriate fishing locations.


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!

Recent Posts