Rainy Lake is producing some big walleye right now and should fish well into the fall. According to guide Donnie O Bert, walleyes grow big on the system due to a strong forage base of rainbow smelt but young of the year perch can also influence where to find fish. In this post, Donnie shows how he uses big cranks to catch more big fall walleye.
“As a rule of thumb, we will see many walleye slide out over deep mud transitions and off the ends of rock structure over mud but many big fish can be found off deep rock reef complexes,” explains Donnie. Donnie catches some of the biggest walleye of the season however by trolling big crankbaits off these rock reefs in 19-22 feet of water. Trolling covers water. O Bert likes to look for reefs and deep rock complexes that are big enough and line up in proximity for effective trolling.
These rock locations can obviously be extremely snaggy and the depth can vary. This trolling requires you to hustle. You can’t just run one depth. Donnie is constantly adjusting lines but reeling up line or letting out line to keep the cranks out of snags and in the zone.
To fine-tune the trolling, O Bert recommends trolling with the forward-facing sonar looking straight ahead. This will reveal upcoming boulders or drop-offs where you can adjust as quickly as possible.
Typically, you will see fish laying near these rocks on this type of structure. O Bert recommends using both 2D and Down Imaging side by side on a split screen to compare. The 2D covers more of the bottom but many fish right to boulders or between boulders will only show up on Down Imaging.
For cranks, O Bert likes big long smelt like profiles and is a big fan of the Northland Rumble B. The Rumble B is a big walleye bait with a big baitfish profile and rattle. O Bert likes to experiment with both perch and smelt color imitations along with white. The key however is to run the baits about 5-6 feet off the bottom for big fish.
“Seems like if I pound the rocks with the bill, I catch a lot more small fish. By running off the bottom I not only snag less but it seems like the bigger walleye have no issues coming up that far out of the boulders to hit a bait,” explains O Bert.
Long lining big smelt profile crankbaits above deep rock structure is producing some giant walleye on Rainy Lake right now and this method accounts for big fish on many fisheries beyond Rainy Lake. This program kicks in mid-summer and can produce well into the fall.
Be sure to check out our entire fall walleye catalog here.