As the leaves start to turn colour and the temperatures cool down big walleye get real hungry! Places like Tobin Lake, Bay of Quinte, Last Mountain Lake, Columbia River are some of the key places in North America have a chance at record walleye. These different bodies of water all have distinctive features, but when it comes to night fishing, things even out.
KEY AREAS TO NIGHT FISHING
When I first started fishing at night years ago, I didn’t have a clue how to approach it! Through those years of failure one day came success. The real key to becoming successful at night is finding the fish during the day then figuring out which area they move to at night.
As a rule these areas will be adjacent, usually big long flats they can hunt on.
There is nothing more exciting then hearing the drag on a line counter real screaming on a calm dark night. One night as we were trolling a shallow flat at Tobin I forgot to tell dad about the new line counter reels I bought. The clicker was on when a giant 12-pound walleye nailed his lure, the clicker screaming as line left the spool. This sudden noise caused him to jump out of seat and hit his head on the windshield. The sore forehead was soon forgotten about when the walleye hit the net! A few pictures and she was safely released to be caught again.
UP YOUR ODDS WITH KEY MOON PERIODS
Not every night is destined to be a success, but you can up your odds by choosing key moon periods to be on the water. If possible 4 days before to 4 days after the full and new moons has by far been the most successful times on any water we have fished. Full moon especially on clear bright nights I have my best success on bright coloured crankbaits. New moon I spend most of my time running dull darker coloured crankbaits and natural looking colours. If one lure is hot, I’ll change all the rods to that particular bait that night. Every piece of water and every night is different, so as usual you must be willing to experiment.
ADJUSTING SPEED IS CRITICAL
Adjusting speed, frequently changing colours, changing depths and spots is the name of the game. If your fishing clear calm water or shallow water I suggest you run planer boards. This gives you the ability to get your lines out away the side of the boat to intercept the walleye the have spooked from your motor and boat path. I also take glow sticks and either tape or zip tie them to the flags to help identify snags, weeds, strikes and small fish that you could drag around with out noticing. It’s very important to be quiet and use very little light beside the ones that are made for safety on your boat. These fish spook easily so being stealthy is an important part of the equation. Having a GPS track to follow when traveling in the dark is key.
I always treat night fishing as careful as possible. There could be logs, debris, or worst off, another boat with no lights on. Never travel fast and I usually get set up when it’s still light, then work my way back to the launch slowly. I have seen wrecks and heard to many stories so make sure your well rested. I suggest never going alone. It’s not safe at all and I never will.
CLEAN UP THE INSIDE OF YOUR BOAT
It’s a way different ball game at night. Put away EVERYTHING YOU CAN in compartments, keeping the front of the boat clear. I like to run my kicker engine when trolling and alter my speeds with my bow mount. Big walleye will follow a bait for awhile and sometimes speeding it up or slowing it down even .2 mph can trigger that strike.
Speed will vary on any given night but generally I go on the slower side 1.2 -1.8 mph. I have caught fish at 2 mph or faster but at night it’s way more successful to stay slower. Walleyes have cones and receptors that allow them to see in low light conditions, a huge advantage when foraging at night. Almost makes you feel bad for those poor baitfish who can’t see that giant walleye swimming towards them in the black of night.
PRECISION TROLLING APP
I recommend the precision trolling app for your phone, it’s worth every penny. They are constantly updating knew lures and this is a quick, easy way to get your specific bait of choice in the depth you need it to be. Another bonus to this app is versatility. You have depth with 10 pound mono and 10 pound braid. There’s a huge difference in depth between the two lines, which took me by surprise.
SHMYR PREFERS BRAID AT NIGHT
I prefer braid, especially at night, because it’s easier to feel debris on your lure or line. I also attach a trolling swivel and tie a four foot lead of ten pound fluorocarbon to a crankbait snap.
While using braid your drag and rod must be perfect. Too stiff of a rod and too tight of drag can cause lures to tear out of fish /hooks to bend/ and line break. It’s also very important to calibrate your line counter, which involves putting the right amount of line on your spool, usually close to the top.
I usually fill over half my reel up with 10-15-pound monofilament, so I don’t need a thousand feet of braid on one reel. Another great feature of the clicker is to help identify a snag or bite immediately. As for preference of rod and reel there are so many good ones now a days it’s all kind of personal preference. The key is a long rod to absorb the heavy explosive strikes and weight of giant fish. Many times those fish hit the bait going the other way so never treat anything like a snag until you know 100 percent it’s a snag. I have been fooled many times before!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CRANK
The crankbaits I use depends on the depth I’m fishing that night but generally shallow fishing under eight feet of water I use stickbaits like the Bagley Minnow B and original Rapalas. In deeper water, you need something that gets down, like my favorite the Bagley Rumble B.
Having different brands and colours is important. Some have rattles light and loud some don’t, many have their unique action, all of which could be a key factor for catching fish that particular night.