Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

As the fisherman’s calendar progresses into fall, the fishing calendar heads into the fall turnover period. This can produces some of the biggest fish of the year, but for a short period of time – usually a week to 10 days – the fish are much disoriented and very difficult to catch. The water and debris on the bottom of a lake roll to the top and push the top layer down to the bottom. The temperature flux and the debris confuse and disorient the fish. When things settle down the fish will start getting serious about feeding up for the cold water season that they know will follow very soon.

To take advantage of this feeding, the large fish will begin working together to locate and feed on the bait fish. The most efficient way to track these pockets of walleye or northern pike is by trolling a crankbait. A lot of water can be covered this way, allowing the aggressive fish to be found. The best locations to troll are windblown points, the remaining deep weed edges, and any flats.

Most walleye anglers after catching a fish would mark the spot and turn around and troll back again. I would recommend to stopping and casting the crankbait into the same area, rather than running the boat and motor back over the same spot and potentially scaring possible fish. If the active fish are in the area, patience will likely yield an additional fish or three.

The same technique will also work for northern pike, and the fish will be larger because the water they had lived in all summer, near the bottom, is now the top third of the lake. Since the bait fish are just as disoriented as the big fish, the feeding is good.

The best equipment to use for this is a 7-foot long medium light action rod. The rod should give a little and not yank the treble hooks out of the mouth of those walleyes.

The choice of crankbaits will depend on how deep the fish are running – no reason to be shy with size of the bait. This time of year bigger is better.

Even those who catch only a few fish will enjoy the fall colors on fishing trips this time of year. It’s one of the best parts of fall fishing.

Until next time … keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at