Bank Fishing Tips for Catching Walleyes at Night

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By Engbretson Eric, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a fun and inexpensive way to catch those big walleyes this fall? Bank fishing doesn’t require much tackle, and can be practiced on both lakes and rivers.  You really just need a shoreline with structure or cover, then cast out a minnow bait and slowly reel it in until a walleye bites. If that doesn’t work, move down the shore until you locate biting fish.

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There are four main points to consider when bank fishing:

  • Tackle
  • Location
  • Necessities
  • Tactics

Night Tackle

You don’t need a wide variety of lures to catch walleye at night from the bank. A couple rip baits, banana-style hard baits and shad crankbaits will be sufficient.  Here are some suggestions when stocking a tackle tray.

Some suggestions when stocking your tackle:

  • Floating models are useful for backing-out of snags
  • Rattles can be effective some nights, others not so much – but best to give them a try
  • Have lures you can cast far
  • Walleye like hot paints, and bright, reflective lures are easier for you to see at night

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Walleyes are attracted to shorelines with lots of food on fall nights.

  • Grass beds: Vegetation attracts yellow perch and minnows, ideally near deep water.  A few feet of water between the weed tops and the surface is all you need to swim a bait through.
  • Points: These are heavily trafficked by walleye movoing into shallow areas, and then back to deeper water once they’ve eaten.
  • Sand Bars: Those with a mix of grass or rock are especially good nighttime spots in rivers.
  • Shoreline Bends: River bends, and inside bends in lakes that lead to coves and bays, are awesome nighttime spots.
  • Inflowing Water: Fishing an inflowing tributary is ideal because walleye like current. Also consider the base of rapids.
  • Rock & Concrete: Walleyes also like to feed near piers, marina break walls, bridge pilings and riprap banks on fall nights.

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Having the basic equipment makes fishing in the dark easier – here are some suggestions.

  • Snap: Use a snap to quickly change lures at night.
  • Headlamp: Hands free! And helps you see in the dark.
  • Waterproof Boots: To stay dry and provide foot support as you walk around on uneven ground in the dark.
  • 7′ Medium-Power Spinning Combo: Pair it with 15 to 20-pound braid or 8 to 12-pound mono on below freezing nights.
  • Multitool: An all-in-one tool will make unhooking fish and working on tackle easier.
  • Sharp Hooks: Fish might not get the bait as well at night so use new tacky sharp hooks for more hookups.

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Bank fishing walleye at night is pretty straightforward. BUt, the following tips can help make a difference.

  • Slow & Steady: A slow, predictable retrieve gives them an easy target.
  • Throw Big Baits: A big bait pushes a lot of water, making it easier for walleye to locate. A large profile also appeals to the increased appetite of walleye in the fall.
  • Work Current Streams: When fishing flowing water look for current seams. Moonlight reflecting on the water’s surface can reveal different ripples where fast and slow flowing water meet. Cast here.
  • Fish into the Wind: Wind-blown shorelines contain turbid water and disoriented baitfish, which attract walleye. A wave-hit bank is always worth casting.
  • Fish Higher than Daytime: A lure should be retrieved above walleye at night. This lets them see its silhouette against the moonlight.
  • Cover Water: Walleye can be anywhere along the bank at night. Use different casting angles to cover water and determine fish location.
  • Trigger Bites: Walleye have a habit of bumping hard baits before they hit. This can feel like a “tick” in the rod or a vibration change.