Beautiful weather has anglers in Manitoba heading to their favourite lake or river to enjoy some great fall fishing. One of the hottest locations has been Traverse Bay on Lake Winnipeg, with the legendary fall greenback walleye run underway.
Things have been a little more sporadic on the Red River, with sauger supplying the majority of the action. These can be caught by drifting with a jig and small white Berkley Power tail. You can catch a lot in short period of time with this technique. Sauger make for a very enjoyable fresh fish dinner.
A good sauger bite means water conditions are not optimal for a really strong run of walleye. Master Angler data from past years shows more big walleye will be caught on the Red River when flows in the fall are fast. Right now the flow is fairly slow.
Out in Traverse Bay, walleye movement is dictated by wind-generated current. A big north wind for a few days can move fish out of the bay and into the Winnipeg River.
A switch in wind direction to the south will push water back into the bay. When this occurs, walleye will stack up on rock piles and edges of the main river channel. The most effective method to catch these structure-orientated walleye is from an anchor position. This can be somewhat difficult if the wind and current are strong. A heavy anchor, a length of heavy chain and good rope have allowed me to anchor even in the toughest conditions.
The most effective presentation from an anchored position is usually a jig rigged with a Gulp Smelt minnow tipped with a salted shiner minnow. It is really critical to try different retrieves and weights of jigs when anchored to find out what the fish want on any particular day.
My fishing partner, Jim Price, likes to use as light a jig as possible, one just heavy enough that he can feel the bottom. This lighter jig will allow fish to inhale the bait when they flare their gills on the bite. It does pay to experiment with size of the jig. For colour, either orange or chartreuse are favourites. I like the jigs that have a large eye on them, which makes it easier for the walleye to target.
In colder weather, less movement of the jig is usually better. In warmer water, a sharp snap and drop can be deadly. Both Jim and I love to fish a jig with a double twitch. This method involves letting the jig drop to the bottom, using a sweep of your jigging rod to lift it about a metre off the bottom, then dropping the jig again to the bottom and double twitching. Out in the bay, we usually fish anywhere from two metres to five metres, but three metres is usually a good starting point. When choosing a jigging rod, I like a two-metre mode with medium light action when fishing with monofilament line. When I fish deeper water with heavier current, it is much easier to detect bites with the use of no-stretch lines. I have found the new NanoFil line made by Berkley to be the best of both worlds. It has absolutely no line memory combined with minimal stretch. These two qualities make it ideal for cold weather as the line always remains supple with no line twist! It is the first of the new uni-filament lines. Made out of gel-spun polyethylene, much like a superline, this spinning reel fishing line consists of hundreds of Dyneema nanofilaments that are molecularly linked and shaped into a unified filament fishing line.