Mike Frisch: Forcing the bite in September – InForum

ALEXANDRIA – The transition from summer to fall occurs in many lakes in September and can make walleye fishing difficult, especially early in that month.

Baitfish populations are often still high now and water temperatures have not cooled enough for the fish to think about putting on the fall feeding bag. For these reasons, I like to rely on decoy presentations that trigger reactionary bites. Although you cannot force a fish to bite, you can often get it to react by using erratic and faster presentations.

The first presentation that comes to mind when trying to get wayward walleyes to react is a bottom bouncer weight pulling a single snell baited with a ‘crawler or leech and pulled at about 1 mph. While some wouldn’t consider this a “reactionary” presentation, I do! First, many traditional live bait rigs involve slower speeds, and a stuttering bottom bouncer creates uneven bait action that other presentations don’t; erratic actions that often trigger biting.

In fact, this particular method has been the go-to feature in this fishing guide over the years whenever the bite gets tough. Not only that, but it’s also often one of the most effective ways to catch walleyes on a hot bite.

Another method that relies on speed and erratic bait action is hand crank trolling. Contour trolling, which follows a particular depth by wrapping around a structural element such as a large underwater point or the edge of a large dish, is a way of trolling.

Another method of trolling, and one that I had good success with in September, is trolling the pond away from the structure trying to find and trigger bites from wandering walleyes in areas featureless deep water in search of food.

This method is often best done using sinker line and line meter spools to set different depths in search of roving walleyes. Adding planer boards to the mix makes it even more effective as anglers can also cover large areas of large featureless pools using the boards to direct bait away from the boat.

My favorite Off Shore planer boards are easy to use and when fitted with tattle flags they make for even more efficient trolling as the flags alert anglers to the presence of weeds on the bait or harmful panfish.

Dying weeds floating in the water column that hit the line and then slide to the bait can be a problem in early fall, a problem mitigated by flags.

Crank trolling and single rigs rely on a trolling motor or gas engine and the speed and bait movements provided by these motors. Another method involving the use of dragged bait relies on the actions provided by the angler and their rod and reel. Glide baits fish either by being jigged vertically or by casting and bringing them back to the boat. Whether jigged or cast, anglers catch them by breaking the bait and letting them sink to the bottom.

These baits are designed to have erratic, unpredictable drops that trigger bites from nearby walleyes. Although relatively new to the fishing scene, slip baits are now one of the hottest things in walleye fishing. In fact, many competitive walleye tournament anglers rely heavily on these baits.

Whether you’re a tournament pro or love walleye fishing outside of the competitive arena, you’ve probably been frustrated with more than one September walleye fishing trip. Using one, two, or all of the methods outlined above could just trigger a bunch of reaction stings during this tough time and end those frustrations this season.

As always, good luck on the water and don’t forget to include a youngster in your next outdoor adventure!

Mike Frisch hosts the popular television series Fishing the Midwest and is a co-founder of the ZEBCO School of Fish. Visit


to see all things fishing in the Midwest.

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