Being out on open water after dark can be a spooky experience, but its definetely a great time to be fishing for walleyes. Legendary Hall Of Fame Anglers Keith Kavajecz and Gary Parsons explain the tactics you'll need to know to try some night time walleye fishing yourself.
If you're looking for some true excitement to warm up your late fall fishing, have we got the solution for you. Forgo basking in the warmth of a midday sun, and plan your outings around the pitch of darkness. Fishing under the moon of a November night means it's cold, spooky, and definitely outside anything resembling a comfort zone ... but it's unbelievably exciting and most definitely the time for catching the true monster walleyes of the year.
Keith & Bruce De Shano "Why", you might ask, "would I want to go out in the middle of the night to catch walleyes when I can catch plenty of them in the day?" The answer ... It's a pure adrenaline rush! There's magic to night fishing, especially in the late fall. The air feels clearer, the stars appear brighter, and the fish are bigger, more plentiful, bite better, and fight harder than the ones you'll hook during the day. It's the action that walleye dreams are made of, and, depending on where you're fishing, you could have it all to yourself.
Many walleye waters produce well this time of year, but few produce the size and numbers of fish that the Great Lakes fisheries do. Traditional late fall haunts would include Lake Michigan's Bay de Noc and Little Bay de Noc Huron's Saginaw Bay, and the central basin of Lake Erie. While we'll describe some of our favorite techniques for tackling the night bite on these waters, keep in mind that these tactics can be adapted to many lakes throughout walleye country.
First of all, you need to understand where walleyes are located this time of year. During the day, it's still open water that holds fish, although they will be found much closer to shore than they were in mid-summer. In the fall of 1998 for instance, Keith and a film crew for Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World television show found good numbers of Lake Erie's central basin walleyes within five miles of shore during the day. The fish were suspended 20 to 25 feet down over 40 to 50 feet of water. While the fishing was good, it was merely the "tip of the iceberg" of what could be expected later. The area was littered with small groups of walleyes roaming open water, but it was the night-bite the crew was after, when these fish would begin moving in from the basin and concentrate to feed.
Predicting the walleyes' movements shoreward was not that difficult. They staged along the transition break where the soft basin turned to rock, (around the 20 foot mark), a place where baitfish gather. Keith found just such a transition about 1/2 to 1 mile off shore in the Sandusky area of Lake Erie, and the fishing was dynamite!
Whether you fish Lake Erie, Michigan's Bay de Noc, or your home lake, look for walleyes suspended at night, often hanging