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82-year-old guide, Dick “The Griz” Gryzwinski, shares time-proven vertical jigging tactics for more ‘eyes this fall

Wednesday night, October 4th, from 6-9 pm, there will be a showing of an Outdoor Life-sponsored documentary chronicling the life and innovations of the still-guiding 82-year-old, Dick “The Griz” Gryzwinski at Frankie’s Live Bait & Marine in Chisago City, Minnesota. 

The documentary premiere should be a who’s who event—with the man himself there to tell a few funny fishing stories omitted (and probably censored) from the near 25-minute documentary you can view here

But on to the topic at hand: fall walleyes

Fall can be one of the best times of year to catch numbers and big fish as waters cool and fish move from summer patterns into colder conditions. While fish metabolism begins to slow in the cooler waters ‘eyes go on feeding binges, good news for anglers of all levels of experience. The bite can be spectacular right up through winter. 

Rivers are one of the underrated and best places to concentrate your fall walleye fishing. From various Mississippi River pools in Northern Minnesota all the way to Iowa, to the St. Croix River, to smaller gems like the Rum, fall is prime time for walleye numbers and size. And the fishing’s good right up through winter, especially below dams with warm-water discharge. 

Go Simple & Vertical

At 82-years-old, legendary walleye guide, The Griz, has been fishing the Mississippi and St. Croix since he was 3- or 4-years old. A member of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame—and favorite guide of notables like the late-Walter Mondale, MN Twins’ Jack Morris and Kent Hrbek, The Griz is guiding on river systems most days of the week and knows the waters like the back of his hand. Countless decades of fishing rivers have proven one thing for him—nothing beats vertical jig fishing with live bait in the fall.  

“You can have your trolling cranks, Dubuque Rigs, glide baits, and all the rest. Me, I put hundreds of walleyes on the counter a week vertical jigging with nothing more than a ¼- to 3/8-ounce Northland Fishing Tackle Gum-Ball Short-Shank Jig and a fathead minnow,” says The Griz. 

In terms of boat control, The Griz uses a stern-mounted 55-pound Minn Kota Endura Max to keep his boat constantly parallel to shoreline features. With that he can hover directly over fish-holding spots that are sometimes only half the size of his camo-patterned 16-foot Triton jon boat. And he’s more than happy to go on record to say he’s not a fan of Spot-Lock, which he thinks has made anglers soft. 

In the stained waters of the various Mississippi pools Griz fishes, he doesn’t worry about jig color. “It’s more about location, bait profile, feeling bottom, and boat control,” says the Griz. “The walleyes at this time of year are gorging on two- to four-inch gizzard shad and shiners and the profile of a medium-sized fathead and Gum-Ball combo matches that pretty well without the expense of filling your bucket with creek chubs, shiners, and redtails. Fatheads are all I’ve ever used,” comments The Griz. 

In terms of the right fall vertical jigging set-up, the likes a 6’ to 7’ medium-light to medium power, fast to extra-fast action rod, a $69 Pflueger 2500 size spinning reel, and always six-pound high-visibility, yellow Sufix monofilament with a size 12 barrel swivel tied to a 12- to 18-inch Trilene XT six-pound leader. 

“A lot of lines out there just ain’t what they used to be. This stuff you can see when hit bottom, watch for subtle bites, and it has the stretch and strength you need for big river walleyes. Plus, the jig gets some loft from the mono. My personal best walleye is 14 and-a-half pounds from the Mississippi—and we get a lot of 9s and 10s, too. They’re not uncommon.”

In terms of high-probability walleye locations, The Griz recommends finding current breaks and edges, back eddies, the up-current, tips, and tops of wingdams, and underwater structure like rock piles and submerged logs and brush. 

“Early in the fall the fish start off pretty shallow in 2- to 12-feet but will migrate to middle channel areas and underwater current breaks as fall progresses. That’s when I look for breaks, rocks, boulders, and troughs for the fish on my little Humminbird Helix 8 depthfinder,” notes the Griz. 

It should be noted that The Griz doesn’t use GPS or mapping at all, relying only on the electronics for 2D Sonar and water temperature. “Forward-facing sonar outta be outlawed,” says the Griz. “We’ve lost touch with what fishing is supposed to be. Now it’s a damn video game.”

Looking for some help catching numbers and big fish on the river this fall? You can get in touch with The Griz to book a trip at (651) 771-6231. Visit https://www.fishwithgriz.com to learn more. 


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