The fall colors are in full swing and so are the walleye. In the fall walleye start to migrate to the spawning grounds in preparation for the spring. They have one thing on their mind when they do this, food. Although walleye can be caught in good numbers during the day, the action at night can be hot and heavy. The best part is you do not have to go far to find a good wolf pack of walleye feeding. In this article we will talk about when, where, and how to focus on night fishing for walleye.
Walleye bite at night throughout the year, but the fall is when they come in big numbers and big size. The action seems to be the best as the moon is setting or rising over the horizon. If you can be out during one of those times it is historically known to be good for the bite. If you are a beginner I would recommend you start your fishing in the evening when the sun is still up and get your bearings. After you get some practice and feel comfortable at night, then you can start in the twilight hours with ease.
When looking for good places to fish at night you should be looking for 2 things. Look for structure under the water and access to deep water. If you are fishing from shore make sure there is fairly deep water close. Typically if you are fishing in the evening from a boat you will want to start out a little deeper from the shore at 15 – 25 feet of water. Sometimes the bite stays hot out that deep, sometimes the fish slide in a little shallower. It all depends on where the bait is. As the night wears on you can come up shallower in the 6-15 ft. areas if the bite slows out deep. When the fish are up that shallow they usually have bait pushed up to the shoreline. If you see bait, stay put because the fish are there.
There are a lot of ways to catch walleye at night. Cast from shore, cast from a boat, and trolling. Typically the bigger lure at night the better. You want to move as much water with that bait as possible. It will help the fish pin down your bait and get a face full of treble hooks. Baits of choice are Perfect 10’s, Husky jerk 12 – 14’s, shallow and deep Bandits, and Reef Runner 700’s. Casting at night can be a challenge but if you are persistent, you will hook up. Keep moving if you are casting whether from a boat or shore. There are some nights I have moved to 8 different piers at night, got to the last one and limited out in 1 hour. From a boat is a little easier, make sure you are marking fish before you start casting. Trolling is a different animal. While trolling at night run your baits in the top 15 ft. Sometimes the fish are actually feeding right under the surface. Get your planer boards out away from the boat to take advantage of the higher fish, those are the ones that are feeding. Lastly, troll a little slower than you would during daylight hours. Sometimes a little pause in your lures will trigger a strike, try shutting the trolling motor off for 10 or 15 seconds and kicking it back on if the fishing is tough.
I would like to put a couple safety tips in here to help out any new night fisherman. If on a boat have a working radio, warm clothes, working navigation lights, working bilge pump, and have life jackets ready to go. If the area is crowded please use caution. If on shore make sure you have plenty of light and warm clothes. The rocks can be ice covered so be careful.
Below are some good areas to try at night:
Huron – Go out of the river and head east towards ruggles reef or West towards Cedar Point
Lorain – Go out of the river and head East or West, but stay in line with the end of the break wall
Cleveland – Inside the break wall can be good at times, but outside has better fishing. In front of Edgewater park can be hot and heavy action when the fish push the bait up.
Mouse Island – The point off of Mouse Island can be very good at night, just be aware of the current in the area, it can get strong after a blow.
Port Clinton – The shallow beaches get pretty good at night around the portage river.
Kelley’s Island – The Island offers outstanding walleye fishing at night. It has deep water on all sides.