Johnnie Candle from Devils Lake, North Dakota, a member of the Mossy Oak Fishing Team, is primarily a walleye guide. But since his graduation from the University of Akron in 1993, he’s also made a name for himself fishing in walleye tournaments in 20 states and Canada. With a dad and a granddad who loved to walleye fish, Candle lives to fish and has for as long as he can remember. Candle also recently was inducted into the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame.
During the first part of September, our temperatures here in North Dakota will run from the upper 80s to the lower 90s. One of the problems we have at this time of year is that there’s so much food in every section of the lake that the walleyes really don’t have to do anything to find bait to eat. The bait fish that have hatched in the spring are now big enough to feed any walleye I may want to catch. So, not only am I combatting high air temperatures, which usually drives the walleyes into deeper water or into the grass, but also that abundance of young-of-the-year perch and white bass minnows is a problem. Walleye fishing can be challenging in September.
One of the things I look for in the early fall is where schools of baitfish are already broken up. When I’m studying my depth finder and spot big clouds of bait fish and walleyes, I know the walleye aren’t actively feeding. But when I see broken-up clouds of bait and streaks going into those bait fish, then I know the walleyes are feeding, and I can fish more aggressively. If I’m fishing shallow on weed edges or wind-blown shorelines, I’ll fish more aggressively for walleyes with crankbaits. I also can cast jigs to fish aggressively.
In deep water, I’ll be trolling crankbaits at about 2- to 2-1/2 mph for the walleyes. Or, I can fish vertically with lures like a Rapala Jigging Rap, a Johnson Silver Minnow, or perhaps even a jigging spoon, and rip these lures vertically before allowing them to fall back 2-3 feet to the bottom to catch walleyes.
In September, I use the Humminbird Helix in 10 and 12 that offer side imaging. Then I can see walleyes and bait on either side of my boat. These units also feature Down Imaging. When I locate walleyes, I can get right on top of them and use jigging tactics to catch them.
For more information on walleye fishing, check out https://www.johnniecandle.com/.