What Do Walleyes Eat in the Fall: Seasonal Insights

Walleye eating in the fall PIC

As fall approaches, many anglers start gearing up for the exciting walleye fishing season. During this time, walleyes undergo a shift in their eating habits and location, making it an ideal time to try out different fishing techniques. Understanding what walleyes eat in the fall can give you a better insight into their movements and behavior, ultimately increasing your chances of success on the water.

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In the fall, cooling water temperatures stimulate walleyes to put on the feedbag to develop eggs and gain extra fat reserves for the winter season. Their primary diet changes, and they tend to be attracted to different baits. Additionally, walleyes become more active during this period, so subtle adjustments to your fishing style might be necessary to reel them in.

Key Takeaways

  • Fall walleyes alter their diets and feeding location, allowing anglers to adjust fishing techniques.
  • Understanding the walleye diet in autumn can help locate and catch walleyes more effectively.
  • The optimal time and gear for fall walleye fishing varies, so being prepared and adaptable is key.

Walleye Diet in Fall

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As the season changes and temperatures drop, walleye adjust their diet to take advantage of the most abundant and easily accessible food sources. In this section, we’ll delve into the common baitfishes and prey walleye target in the fall and discuss their seasonal forage preferences.

Common Baitfishes and Prey

During the fall, walleye favor a variety of baitfish and other aquatic creatures for their meals. Some of the most commonly consumed prey items include:

  • Minnows: Different species of minnows, such as shiners and chubs, make up a significant portion of walleye’s fall diet.
  • Perch: Yellow perch is a common forage for walleye during this season.
  • Shad: As shads become more abundant in the fall, they become a prime target for walleye.
  • Smelt and Cisco: In certain bodies of water, cold-water species like smelt and cisco also serve as a food source for walleye.
  • Shrimp and Herring: In some areas, walleye may consume shrimp, herring, and other small baitfish.

In addition to these baitfish, walleye snack on other aquatic creatures like worms, nightcrawlers, leeches, and frogs.

Seasonal Forage Preferences

As fall progresses, walleye tend to develop specific feeding habits and preferences based on the availability and abundance of their prey. During this time, you’ll often find them locked into perch or shiner feeding patterns, as these baitfish are found in shallow waters, making them easy targets.

Walleye’s fall feeding behavior often involves three main feeding periods during the day: early morning, midday, and evening. Outside these key feeding times, they’ll usually be near the baitfish holding areas.

When targeting walleye in the fall, using live bait is always a good option. Match your bait to the predominant forage in the area, such as minnows, shiners, chubs, or perch. Artificial lures that imitate the appearance and movement of their favored prey can also be successful.

Remember, understanding the walleye’s fall diet and seasonal forage preferences can help you select the best bait and tactics to increase your chances of a successful fishing trip. Happy angling!

Fall Walleye Location and Movements

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Understanding Water Temperature Influence

During the fall, walleye are influenced by water temperature changes. As the temperatures cool, their metabolism slows down, which affects their feeding habits. That’s why understanding the temperature influences on walleye can help you find better fishing locations. As the temperatures change, walleye tend to move into deeper, cooler waters before winter.

Recognizing Suitable Structures

In their search for food, walleye are attracted to various structures. These can include deep structures, such as rock piles, holes, or bottom depressions in depths of 10-30 feet. Additionally, you may find walleye near weed edges, where they can ambush prey. Pay attention to shorelines, especially rocky shorelines, and rocky points, which also provide cover and food sources for the fish.

Walleye also makes use of flats and channels during the fall transition. These areas offer access to food while providing a stable habitat for the fish. So, as a fisherman, it’s essential to recognize structures that may attract walleye during this time of the year.

Identifying Current Areas

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the impact of water currents on walleye movements. Walleye prefer to stay close to current breaks, where the water flow slows, and they can conserve energy. Current areas provide an ideal location for walleye to feed, as baitfish and other food sources are often swept through these zones.

To find walleye in the fall, focus on locating areas with current breaks along channels, near deep water, and close to shorelines with a light line. Using bottom bouncers or other lures suitable for walleye, cast your line in these areas to increase your chances of a successful catch.

Remember, staying aware of the influence of temperature, identifying suitable structures, and focusing on current areas will help you locate and catch walleye during the fall season. Keep these factors in mind as you plan your fall fishing adventures.

Fishing Techniques and Gears for Fall Walleye

In the fall, walleye feed on smaller fish, and their eating patterns change compared to other seasons. To increase your chances of success, you should try different fishing techniques, such as trolling, jigging, and casting. Explore effective strategies to help you catch more walleye in the fall.

Trolling for Walleye

Open-water trolling is often the most effective tactic for finding walleye in the fall. You can maximize your chances by using multiple rods and covering large water areas. Equip your rods with crankbaits, three-way rigs, and planer boards to increase your chances of a catch. If you’re fishing at night, consider using stick baits or lipless crankbaits to entice walleye to bite.

When trolling, be mindful of your retrieve speed and the strength of the current. Remember to stay patient and be prepared to adjust your strategy if needed. Utilize sonar technology to help locate walleye in deeper waters.

Jigging Techniques

Jigging is another effective technique for targeting fall walleye. You can use vertical jigging methods for deeper water or traditional jigging in shallower areas. Equip your arsenal with jigs, live bait rigs, such as the Lindy Rig, and plastics to attract walleye.

A jig and minnow combination is a popular choice for fall walleye anglers. It’s essential to adjust your jigging speed and use your sonar to identify the most productive depths. Blade baits and vertical jigging work well in strong currents, where traditional jigging might be less effective.

Casting Strategies

Casting allows you to target specific areas and cover water more methodically. To increase your chances of catching fall walleye, try using a variety of lures, such as spinner rigs and rippin’ raps. Adjust your retrieve speed and use sinkers to help get your lure into the strike zone.

When casting, be patient and work your lure through likely walleye hiding spots. Drifting with the wind or current can also be effective for reaching areas where walleye are feeding on forage fish.

Remember, success in fall walleye fishing comes from employing various techniques and adapting to changing conditions. By staying patient and using a mix of trolling, jigging, and casting methods, you can substantially increase your chances of landing this elusive fish.

Optimal Timing for Fall Walleye Fishing

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Early Fall Season

During the early fall season, walleye become more active as water temperatures cool. September is a particularly great time to target these fish, as they start feeding more aggressively to prepare for the winter months. You’ll find that walleye often move to shallower waters for food during this time.

In early fall, it’s crucial to focus on areas with abundant baitfish populations, such as near underwater structures, weed edges, and drop-offs. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various bait types and fishing techniques to maximize your success.

Evening and Night Fishing

As the fall season progresses, walleye behavior changes, and evening and night fishing can become highly productive. In the fall, walleyes often feed shallow all day, especially in stained water. In clearer water, days with cloud cover or wind that creates a chop are best. It’s important to adjust your tactics accordingly and pay attention to local conditions.

During evening and night fishing, walleye tend to be more active and can be caught using various methods, such as trolling, casting, and jigging. Be patient and persistent, as finding active walleyes sometimes requires covering more water or frequently switching locations.

Always stay safe while fishing at night by bringing proper lighting, wearing reflective clothing, and practicing caution around the water. With the right approach and the knowledge of optimal timing for fall walleye fishing, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Finding Walleyes in the Fall

Using Electronics for Locating Walleye

When searching for walleyes in the fall, utilizing electronics can greatly enhance your chances of locating them. Modern fish finders are excellent tools for mapping underwater structures and identifying the presence of fish. As walleyes often gather near steep drop-offs, boulders, and deep structures, such as those found in reservoirs, focus on these areas when using your electronics. These fish can be aggressive in the fall, so finding the right location can lead to great action.

Observing Walleye Behavior

To better understand walleye behavior in the fall, pay attention to their feeding habits and preferred habitats. Fall walleyes usually search for food, with green weeds being a target area for these fish. As the water temperature drops and weeds thin out, walleyes focus on other food sources, such as panfish and baitfish. Small lakes and areas near bridges or docks can also be a refuge for fall walleyes.

Considering these factors, adjust your fishing strategy accordingly. Remember that larger lures can be more effective during this time, as walleyes are looking for big, easy meals. Also, be prepared to experiment with different techniques, such as jigging, trolling, or live bait rigs, to find the best approach for the conditions you’re fishing in.

Now, with this information in hand and a friendly, encouraging attitude, get out there and try your best to find and catch some fall walleyes! Happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What baits should I use for fall walleye?

In the fall, walleye feed to prepare for the colder months ahead. You should consider using minnow-like baits such as jigs, crankbaits, and live minnows. These baits mimic the walleye’s natural prey at this time of year.

How does late fall affect walleye fishing?

As the temperatures drop in late fall, walleye become more aggressive and tend to be found in specific locations. They will often move toward shallow waters with current, chasing their prey. So, when fishing during late fall, target areas such as river channels, bridges, and breaklines.

Do walleye prefer shallow waters during fall?

Yes, walleye do prefer shallow waters during the fall. They usually move to these areas to find abundant food sources, such as baitfish. Look for spots with rocky or hard bottoms, green weeds, and vegetation to increase your chances of catching walleye.

What are the best techniques for fall walleye trolling?

When trolling for walleye in the fall, consider using techniques such as lead-core line trolling, downriggers, and planer boards to control the depth of your lure. This will increase your chances of finding walleye in their preferred locations. Adjust your trolling speed according to the temperature and activity level of the fish.

How does the fall turnover impact walleye behavior?

The fall turnover occurs when surface water cools, causing the water to mix and become uniform temperature throughout the lake. This process can make walleye more challenging to locate because they will spread out. However, once the turnover is complete, walleye will be more active and easier to catch in their usual fall locations.

What factors make successful walleye fishing in October and September?

Successful walleye fishing in October and September will depend on water temperature, bait availability, and location. Pay attention to the fish’s behavior, as they will actively feed in areas with abundant food sources. Focus on finding spots with appropriate water temperature and structure that attract walleye during this time of the year.


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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