Nighttime Casting For Fall Walleye (From Land or Boat)
Fishing at night is a great way to catch walleye all season, but the action really heats up when the water temperature drops in autumn. Here are some tips on casting crankbaits, minnowbaits and swimbaits to catch walleye in the fall.
A Spinning Combo Is All You Need
You don’t need much gear to catch walleye at night. In fact, keeping it simple is best. We suggest a spinning outfit as the reel is less prone to hassles compared to a baitcaster. A 13 Fishing Omen 7’1” or 7’5” medium spinning rod paired with either a Creed Chrome or a Creed GT reel makes a great night casting combo.
One line option is 20-pound Sufix 832 Advance Superline. This thin diameter braid boosts sensitivity and casting distance. Another reliable choice is 10- to 12-pound Sufix Advanced Monofilament. Mono reduces ice-up of rod guides and reel parts when air temps drop below freezing.
Best Casting Baits For Nghttime Walleye
Walleye hunt baitfish at night, so shad and minnow profiles between 4- to 5-1/2 inches get the nod. Bigger is better as a substantial profile is easier for walleye to locate in darkness.
Glow, UV, metallic and other high-visibility patterns are good. A bright lure approaching the boat or bank is more visible for an angler than a dark one in a headlamp’s beam. The following are baits recommended for dusk till dawn fishing.
- Rapala Husky Jerk, Jointed Minnow and Storm ThunderStick Madflash for irresistible wiggling actions and shallow running depths.
- Rapala Deep Tail Dancer, Down Deep Husky Jerk and Storm ThunderStick Deep for enticing wide wobbles and deeper dives.
- Rapala Shad Rap, Glass Shad Rap and Tail Dancer for proven fish-catching swimming actions and mid-range running depths.
- Storm 360GT Searchbait, Storm Largo Shad and 13 Fishing Churro for sinking, heavy vibrating presentation options. Rig the Largo Shad and Churro on a VMC Boxer Jig or Flat Shad Jig.
Where To Catch Walleye At Night
It’s best to arrive at your fishing grounds before dusk. This lets you learn walleye location and understand the layout of weed edges and structures. With this info, you’ll know where to position to cast to key spots once sunset begins. Good night fishing areas include: bays, points, sand bars, shallow reefs, deep weedlines, riprap banks and rock walls. A shallow flat with vegetation near deep water is also worth exploring. Tributaries, culverts, wing dams and other current zones are equally fruitful spots.
A typical evening pattern is for walleye to start feeding deep or in mid-depth areas at dusk. As darkness arrives, fish push shallower and hunt higher in the water column. An angler must adjust to fish movements at night. This could mean beginning by counting-down a swimbait or using a deep-diving crankbait. Then switching to a shallow-running lure, like a Husky Jerk (14), after sundown. A steady, slow to moderate retrieve is best most nights. This provides a consistent path and produces steady vibrations, making it easy for a walleye to locate and eat the bait. An occasional pause isn’t a bad idea and may trigger a strike. Fan cast to cover water. Walk the bank or adjust boat position as needed to work areas thoroughly. Like daytime tactics, catching one walleye is a clue others are near. Act quickly and make repeated casts to the same spot to hook more fish.
Other Nighttime Fishing Gear
A headlamp is essential for hands-free lighting. A lightweight lantern is equally practical for shore anglers. Boaters should have decent interior lighting along with operating running lights.
A net or a fish gripper are equally useful for landing and handling walleye. To simplify hook removal, we suggest the Rapala Mag Spring Pliers for their easy one-handed operation.
Dress in layers to stay warm and comfortable. Look to the Rapala Clothing line for toques, fishing gloves, Heavy Weight Fleece Hoodies, reliable outerwear and other high-performance angling apparel. Remember to wear your PFD in the boat.
Lastly, be sure to bring a scale or a measuring tape. Fall is the best time to catch a trophy walleye, and few tactics tip the odds in your favour like casting crankbaits, minnowbaits and swimbaits at night.