Typically, locating walleyes on reservoirs in the fall is pretty basic. Reservoir walleyes, for the most part, relate to main-lake points and flats most of the year. One major key to finding reservoir walleyes is to determe which points, and what type of flats fish are relating to. A good reservoir main-lake point will be one that extends into deep water, and provides good ambush points in the form of breaks and feeding shelves at various depths. A good flat will also have access to deep water, and is often in close proximity to a good point. In the case of western reservoirs such as Oahe in South Dakota, or Fort Peck in Montana, there are literally hundreds of potentially good points and flats to choose from. Therefore, you need to narrow down your search to those structures that would be in the path of the walleyes’ movements this time of year.
Remember, reservoir walleyes are “river minded”, and therefore they tend to be “roamers”, not staying in one place very long. How far and often these fish move is often linked to the amount of current coming into the reservoir. If there’s been lots of rain upstream, or the Corp of Engineers are releasing water creating good current flow, the walleyes will move further up the reservoir and move more often. This is one of the key factors to reservoir walleyes having that “Here today – gone tomorrow” reputation.
Another part of the puzzle many fishermen have a tough time solving is what depth the walleyes will be holding. Here’s where today’s modern fishing technology shines. A good quality depth finder like Lowrance’s HDS series or the Elite series of sonars with CHIRP technology, provide the resolution and power needed to spot fish, baitfish, and subtle bottom transitions that make one piece of structure better than another. Cruise potential points and flats looking for signs of life. Once you’ve determined the spot you’re on is holding fish, make note of the depth at which they’re “marking”. If you’re marking fish in, say 15 feet, try running a 1 1/2 ounce bottom bouncer and spinner tipped with a crawler through them. Follow the entire contour of the point at that depth, being sure to hit the “cups” on the inside of the point where it breaks from shore. Working from the bow with the trolling motor and your eyes on the depth finder, will give you the maneuverability to cover the structure effectively. This method works well on “flats” fish also, and a trolling motor like MotorGuide’s Xi5 equipped with Pinpoint technology is very helpful in keeping you on-line and in the fish zone, even when you’re busy rebaiting hooks, landing fish, or grabbing a sandwich.