Rock River Walleye: I think the depth finder pretty much shows what’s going on with walleye as well as other fish, which means, like right now, you can find fish in pretty much all depths because the water temp is probably pretty consistent at all depths, (deep water being more stable during warm and cold fronts). I don’t think I have seen so many fish shallow as I have this year, there is carp feeding on the surface, gar breaching all over. As far as walleye it depends on the area, down by the old 14″ mill there is a couple buddies casting shallow, less than 6′ and catching smaller fish, and I am out fishing deeper and catching bigger fish along with all other sizes down to fingerlings. Those guys are also catching fish up at the dam still. It’s been an exceptional fall, not normal at all.
Yesterday I saw on the depth finder huge schools of fish moving through, probably catfish, carp gar etc. and today they were gone.
The walleye have been shutting down by 10am, but I know they are still there because I accidentally snag one occasionally. Yesterday was a good day with 8 fish between 2-5 pounds plus a few smaller ones. They were mostly in 12′-14′ deep but the biggest came early in 16-17′ deep. This morning they weren’t biting very well, I caught 4 with only one decent one about #3.
I can tell you the biologist from ten years ago or so (name started with a p) used to start at the landing at Dixon high school, work up one bank and down the other and when he did this, I could not catch a fish, so it was affective. He used to do this about everyday for awhile.
The walleye move a lot, this time of year so it is hit and miss, but possible to catch 6 big fish up shallow within minutes then they are gone. Places with valleys near deep water are good choices.
As far as structure, I think current is more important. If the current is low, look for current, if the current is strong look for slack water. Down by the 14” mill is not that rocky, mostly gravel bottom with ledges, humps and holes.
One thing to take into consideration, yesterday the water dropped again and the current slowed by 50% maybe, so I was catching fish on the side where the current was strongest and the deep hole pretty much died with no current. Today the flow is back up and river is rising. They need new generators at the dixon dam that are more consistent like the Rockfalls dam so they don’t cause such drastic changes, IMO. If you are shocking where the current is too slow they won’t be there, so the flow is important.
Usually fish are shallow through Oct and then by Nov they are deeper, but this year is different and a lot of fish remain shallow still. The water is super clean, or was before rain, and the fish are probably feeding at night, some might be moving shallow then deep during the day, but I do catch fish shallow on sunny days when its not so clear and I have been fishing at first light and catching fish deep.
I know this is confusing, but Fall is a funny time of year with schools of fish on the move. The rule of thumb is the colder it gets the deeper they go. I catch fish in 20+ on the Mississippi river in late Nov and dec. and I have caught fish at Dixon that deep too. This year they are a little behind schedule.
I’m using a rapala minnow color, about 3″ long, kind of smallish and using that with my bottom bouncer sinker with about 5/8s weight. Not using kicker motor. Its the same as jigging only you move a little faster. I troll up river going side to side maybe, up and down ledges and drift back down with a jig. With clean water you can fish faster, then slow down when its muddy.