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Lets Talk Fall Trolling!


Chumba

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The board has been Sloooooow the last couple weeks. Lets get some good discussion going.

So fall night time trolling on the big pond. i am new to this. Tell me about what works for you. What type of set up? Spinning reel vs baitcaster? Mono vs braid?

how do you know how deep you are running? Ive been doing a lot of lead core, and I am used to the equations. Do people use line counter reels to keep a consisitant amount of line out? Or because you are trolling shallower, is this not an issue? More of a trial and error, let out line until you hit weeds or rocks and then reel up a bit?

Also what size of cranks do you go with 5-7? Colors?

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I have no info on this whatsoever but would be intresting to see if people chime in on how they approach fall trolling. I fished Mille Lacs around 15 time from June 1st to Aug 1st lindy rigs and jigs only with so so results after July 10th. Does anyone fish larger live baits and jigs in the fall? Gravel? Reefs? Any info Chumba? Thanks

Kettle

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I have no info on this whatsoever but would be intresting to see if people chime in on how they approach fall trolling. I fished Mille Lacs around 15 time from June 1st to Aug 1st lindy rigs and jigs only with so so results after July 10th. Does anyone fish larger live baits and jigs in the fall? Gravel? Reefs? Any info Chumba? Thanks

Kettle

I will say that from my experience and what I've read, the mid-july to late-August bite for walleyes is terrible on the lake, in general. Sure, people catch some fish. If you have no better things to do, it's a good way to spend a day dunking lines. But, if I just HAD to get out on ML in that 6 week timeframe toward the end of summer, I would target something like smallies or even muskies (gasp!).

I have very little experience trolling in the fall but I've tried a couple times. As far as I can tell, shallow rocks and sand/gravel areas seem to be the ticket. Husky jerks tend to do well in the fall -- size 10 and 12 mostly, but I think you can get them on 14s too. Bigger is better especially late in the fall. You also have to slow down later when the water starts getting into the lower 40s. Those fish are gorging on tulibees before winter starts so you don't have to worry about being too big. I've heard of guys catching a walleye on a huge husky jerk and reeling it in only to see there's a tulibee tail sticking out of its gullet still. It hasn't even swallowed the other one completely and it's attacking another.

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From my experience, shad style baits tend to work better in the early fall, as it progresses and the water cools, the stickbaits get better.

aanderud, I would not say the bite is terrible from mid july to late august, it's just that a trained monkey can't catch them anymore. Leadcore is generally king during this time of year.

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I know it's not trolling, but don't forget that you can also catch them on the ol' slip bobber, especially if you remember now to buy a pound of leeches or so. The later we get into the fall, the harder it'll be to get a hold of them.

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From my experience, shad style baits tend to work better in the early fall, as it progresses and the water cools, the stickbaits get better.

aanderud, I would not say the bite is terrible from mid july to late august, it's just that a trained monkey can't catch them anymore. Leadcore is generally king during this time of year.

Trav

Is there a certain water temp ur looking for when you switch from shad style to stickbaits??

Or how do you know which style to start out with?

Thanks

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From my experience, shad style baits tend to work better in the early fall, as it progresses and the water cools, the stickbaits get better.

aanderud, I would not say the bite is terrible from mid july to late august, it's just that a UNtrained monkey can't catch them anymore. Leadcore is generally king during this time of year.

See above... I fixed it for ya! LOL!!

Agreed to the shad baits coming on in early fall... Stick baits later. And as the water temp drops, look for a slow rolling action in your lure selection. Not the tight fast action that worked so well in warmer temps.

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I have to agree with Trav on that one, last year late july - mid sept ended up being some fantastic walleye fishing. Just gotta try different tactics than what you're used to.

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I know it's not trolling, but don't forget that you can also catch them on the ol' slip bobber, especially if you remember now to buy a pound of leeches or so. The later we get into the fall, the harder it'll be to get a hold of them.

A man after my own heart......

Better hope pushbutton does'nt see this.

Sifty

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Hilarious! smile

Yup, pushbutton came with on a few of my bobber excursions up to Mille Lacs this spring. Haven't seen him since! confused

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How about targeted depths? Do you get shallower as the water gets colder (or the opposite?) and how much line do you let out? It sounds like some guys try to stay closer to the boat, and others let out a lot of line?

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For me... I let the fish decide. If they're in close, say less than 6FOW and aggressive, I could short line them. If they're there but a bit "spooky" on the baits... I'll let out more line or even go to planers if they're that boat shy. If they're deeper... Deeper diving baits, snap weights... How about lead core? It's all up to the fish.

Week to week. Day to day. And sometimes, hour to hour, the fish will change up and throw you a curve. You just need to be versatile and adapt to the changing fish preferences and fishing conditions.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

A general rule is the rougher it is the shallower fish tend to be and the shorter you can run baits back. I usually run 75 feet to start and increase or decrease until you get dialed in. It's nice to have a couple of guys trolling until you figure out a pattern.

As far as bait selection goes it's a day by day situation. I've had hot bites on stick baits in July and on shad baits in late October. BUt like TravisP stated a typical pattern is longer and larger baits as the water cools. Usually as the surface temps cool to the low 60s it stick bait time. When it's into the mid 50s I'm digging out the big baits, (6 plus inches).

I've had 16" walleye puke up 8+ inch tullibee's in my livewell on Mille Lacs. So no bait is too big during certain times if the year.

I'll have both shad and stick style baits in my boat and likely in the water during the next trip.

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Are you guys using line counters on bait casters then to confirm how much line you have out? I like to use spinning reals if I can..

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I use mostly line counters now but have used baitcasters w/o line counters. Tie a bobber stop at a measured length for a reference point say at 100 feet and adjust from there.

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You are typically trolling in 10 FOW or less and you want your crankbait above the fish as ML is very clear water. They will come up to get it. Depending on the crank I usually run out about 80 feet + or - depending if it is a shallow or deep running crank. You can easily get by without a linecounter and use a spinning rod and reel. I like to use a braided line for the extra sensitivity.

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Borch pretty much answered the water temp questions. There are times that you definately don't need a ton of line out. We pulled cranks at midnight on opener this year and did very well, HJ 12's with only 50ft of line out, and it was flat calm. ML is clear, when your fishing in less then 6ft of water it doesn't matter where your bait is, those fish can see it. If they are spooking from the boat, throw out a couple boards.

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You can buy line counters for any rod. They just clip right on. Mine even has a red light so you can see it at night. I think it was $12.00 at Cab. Works pretty well.

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You can buy line counters for any rod. They just clip right on. Mine even has a red light so you can see it at night. I think it was $12.00 at Cab. Works pretty well.
the ones I have seen only work on bait casters. Are there ones for spinning reels?

Good discussion here. We will have to show the results as fall progresses!

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Borch pretty much answered the water temp questions. There are times that you definately don't need a ton of line out. We pulled cranks at midnight on opener this year and did very well, HJ 12's with only 50ft of line out, and it was flat calm. ML is clear, when your fishing in less then 6ft of water it doesn't matter where your bait is, those fish can see it. If they are spooking from the boat, throw out a couple boards.

How exactly does one know if the boat is spooking fish? You're not catching any?!? smile

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I usually don't go shallow until just before the lake turns over.

as stated leadcore is king.

last couple of yrs black and silver rouges and black and silver small grandma lure realy out performed the normal raps.

maybe the tullies coming back is the reason. 3 mile rock pile on the east side can be awesome in late september.

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Rookie tips for a fall troller...

#1 - How much money do you want to spend on crankbaits?? LOL!

For fall trolling... Rapala HJ 12s are hyped alot and Smithwick Rogues on Mille Lacs.

Colors? Firetiger, Rainbow Trout, Glass Perch, Clown, etc in the HJ and Firetiger, Clown, Lazer Perch, and Lazer Craw in the Rogue. Different colors shine under different cloud covers and different moon brightnesses. Generally bright shiny colors when the moon is up and dark colors when there is no moon. Storm Thundersticks... gotta have them in similar patterns.

I'll expand on those stickbait selections with shad style baits - Shad Raps, Glass Shad Raps, Shallow Shad Raps, Lindy Shadlings, Flicker Shads, etc. It all depends on what depth you are trying to run with your lure, how spooky the fish are etc. You can run a shallow shad aways behind the boat vs a regular shad rap. I won't be without Shallow Shad Raps in my boat in the fall anymore and I'm not talking about big ones either, 5s and 7s. We caught plenty of 26-28" fish last fall on #5 Shallow Shad Raps.

One of my big pet peeves is getting fouled by weeds and not knowing it. If you are dragging a weed you aren't catching fish. Shad baits buzz a lot more up the rod than a stick bait so you know if they are running true. This is a feel you'll learn over time and a feel that a very high quality rod will give you. Don't buy into the soft, flexy, trolling rod talk at this time of the year... feel IS important!

Your crank selection is going to vary as you move up and down the water column. Most of the baits I mentioned above you can't pull in 4' of water. But thats where you have to troll at times, which is a bit freaky when you pop your head over the side and see rocks on the bottom, seamingly right below the boat. In this situation, you have to pull out the original Rapala Floaters and let them wayyy out behind the boat.

There is a bit of science to this madness but a troller does have to recognize some basic things as well. Recognizing these basic things means knowing what equipment you havethat can effectively fish these different circumstances. It takes time... you'll learn it.

Maybe the most important thing to a troller is his electronics and how close he'll those electronics hit the school.

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Are there certain things your looking for when you decide to go in shallow....say 4-6'? Water temp, time of the year, or just take a pass in shallow if your not getting them in 8-15'?

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Some of that 4-6 is inside the weed lines and some could be shallow rock reefs or sand breaks. Tough to mark fish in shallow water so you just have to try it. Bottom line is fish are hungry and stocking up before winter so they will be where the bait is.

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If the water stays warm for a while dont overlook the deeper water transition areas or rock reefs not far from shore. Ive seen times where there are a ton of fish schooled up out there. You can bobber or jig them with a leech if available or minnows.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

If you find that you need to let out 150+ feet of line just to get bite your boat is spooking fish. You can use boards and run shorter or let out more line as fish will filter back in behind the boat.

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I will say that from my experience and what I've read, the mid-july to late-August bite for walleyes is terrible on the lake

I'll have to disagree. We have done excellent from Mid-July through Aug. We put more fish in the frying pan during this time frame than we did from opener to mid July. Not many big fish like early in the year but lots of eaters.

Leadcoring has not produced keepers compared to other methods this year 2c

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I have caught them as shallow as 3 feet of water while trolling and in less than that while casting.Trolling that shallow risks your prop and one of the baits that does not dig into the bottom at that depth is the jointed rapala.

Maybe it is my years of fishing in waders,but for me,if I can find the right area, I enjoy casting cranks.Those walleyes really smack the daylights out of cranks in a couple feet of water.When I hear people talk of walleyes fighting "like reeling in a dishrag", I know those are the people who never fish shallow walleyes.

Workin'

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I'll have to disagree. We have done excellent from Mid-July through Aug. We put more fish in the frying pan during this time frame than we did from opener to mid July. Not many big fish like early in the year but lots of eaters.

Leadcoring has not produced keepers compared to other methods this year 2c

You can disagree all you want but the fact is more fish are caught per hour on the lake in June and early July than in late July or August -- and I'd venture to say the factor is at least TWO or maybe THREE times as many fish, if not more on some days. I might have exaggerated when I said the bite is TERRIBLE, because you're still going to put fish in the boat -- but IMHO the lower numbers plus the boring method (rod holders and then pulling in a hydroplaning fish at 2.2 mph) turn me off compared to earlier in the year. This might be the dishrag effect that was mentioned earlier.

That being said, I generally fish catfish or sturgeon and will only stoop to walleyes when they're jumping in the boat one after the other on lindy rigs, jigs (which happens in the river in the fall), or slowly-trolled spinners smile

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.When I hear people talk of walleyes fighting "like reeling in a dishrag", I know those are the people who never fish shallow walleyes.

I agree 100%

Thats why I haven't used leadcore all year. Leadcore hasn't worked well this year for keepers and its boring as all h*ll.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • JerkinLips
      Earlier this morning it looked like Vermilion froze over last night but now I see open water on the Hibbing Point webcam.  The strong winds must have opened the lake back up.  Tonight the temps drop to single digits and the wind dies down by 5am so it will freeze over tonight.  Expecting 1-2" of snow on Friday with high winds so hopefully the snow will blow off the new ice.  Saturday-Thursday looks very cold with no more snow, so the main lake should get a solid freeze.  Some are ice fishing in Stuntz Bay already, and some braver than I may walk out from McKinley Park this weekend.  I'm going to wait until the end of next week to venture out, although it will be very cold.
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end... Ice is forming, but other than some back bays, it isn't ready quite yet.  Mother Nature is on track.  Some resorts are making the prediction of December 10th for day houses being out, give or take, but at this point, this isn't set in stone and time will tell.  There are cold temps in the forecast and things look optimistic.  Many resorts and outfitters have been checking ice conditions.  When the time is right, resorts and outfitters will slowly and safely begin marking and grooming trails for ice travel.    Please remember, ice conditions vary greatly in different parts of the lake.  One ice road can have good ice that has been checked and marked while down the shoreline there may be ice not suitable for travel yet.  Work through resorts and outfitters on the ice and stay on the marked trails for safety. Anticipation is high as the walleye and sauger fishing this fall was good and fish were staged in good numbers along the south shore.   On the Rainy River...   Much of the Rainy River is frozen up.  Things are progressing but it certainly needs cold weather and some time. Ice conditions vary and on the river there is current, so much like the lake, we encourage visitors to work through a resort or outfitter for safety.   Up at the NW Angle... Ice is forming nicely and is right on track for this year's ice fishing season.  There has been no ice fishing yet as resorts are simply monitoring ice conditions at this time, waiting until the ice is thicker before marking trails and getting fish houses out. Fall fishing was excellent with walleyes in good numbers along with some monster pike being caught.  All indications point to good fishing when the ice is ready as the fish are there. Driving through Canada to reach the Angle no longer requires COVID vaccinations or the use of the ArriveCan App (which is optional).   For those looking to access the Angle while avoiding customs, there are few options.   1.  When ice conditions allow, the snowmobile trail will be groomed and staked from the south shore up to the Angle. 2.  The Lake of the Woods Passenger service provides round trip bombardier service across the lake.   3.  Lake Country Air provides air service to both the south end and NW Angle.    
    • Wanderer
    • leech~~
      Was just going to post this!  
    • Wanderer
      At least they can all say they were there early!  
    • SkunkedAgain
      I'm still hoping for a sunny warm-up to melt all of the existing snow off of the existing ice, and then an arctic blast. After that, I'm hoping for a giant walleye to hop out of the lake and filet itself before skinny dipping in some batter and then relaxing in a hot pan of oil in my kitchen.
    • gimruis
      I'm planning to go later this week.  There's fresh snow coming tomorrow too.
    • gimruis
      I would highly recommend not doodling around out there at night time either.  When those cracks form, the piece breaks off from the main sheet or the land and you are then caught "adrift" with no way back.   The bite is not as good as it normally is from what I have read either.  We're so used to hearing that "its on fire" for the early ice bite but that doesn't appear to be the case.
    • leech~~
      Well, a new report for today talked about cracks opening up and ice piling up!  Better check the night before you head up.  😕
    • Harv
      Leech,  that's what I've been reading.  I'm heading up on Friday the 2nd, for the weekend.   Fingers crossed limits are caught
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