Fall Trolling on the Rainy River
Oct 16th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 16th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
by Joe Henry
Most anglers who dream of the traditional fall walleye run on the Rainy River think about that tap on the end of their rod that was provoked by a jig and minnow. Jigging the Rainy is, and will always be, a great way to catch walleyes. There is a technique in the fall, however, that many don’t implement enough. It is a technique that in the summer is much more popular. Pulling crankbaits in the Rainy River during the fall months can be absolutely deadly.
As the water cools, many anglers have the idea that cranks no longer are as effective. I have to admit, over the years, I would typically switch over to a Lindy Rig or jig. As the years have gone by, I for one, have seen enough and experienced enough that trolling is definitely a tool in my fall walleye tool belt.
Last year, while jigging in the river, two boats who were together trolled by. Kiddingly, I said to them with a grin, “You can’t troll this time of year, the water is too cold.” They replied back, “Exactly 3 fish over 28″ so far with a lot of eaters.” I questioned my decision to be jigging.
Cabelas lead core rod and reel
Leadcore set ups like this allow anglers to troll crankbaits effectively at deeper depths.
Rapala Scatter Rap, Gold Albernus
The Rapala Scatter Rap in Gold Albernus. This is a hot lure both on the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods.
Fall fishing on the Rainy River. Lots of ways to catch fish. Make sure trolling is one of them.
Depending upon what part of the Rainy River you are fishing, where the fish are and how deep, there are basically two options. If fishing under 15′, trolling a crankbait that will dive to the bottom with a traditional set up will get it done. If fishing over 15′, I like using leadcore. It gives me the flexibility to fish in a variety of depths from shallow to deep and allows me to find the fish.
There are a number of crankbaits that will put fish in the boat. Old favorites like the Rapala Shad Rap is a good place to start. Other personal favorites on the river are the Reef Runner Rip Shad and the Rapala Scatter Rap Shad. Gold is a good color start with, but also try firetiger, pink and blue / chrome.
Experiment trolling both upstream and downstream until you figure them out.
Don’t totally rely on your electronics to find fish. The river has a lot of depressions from current that the walleyes lay in. This year pre-fishing a tournament, my partner and I decided to troll a stretch near the Frontier landing, right in the middle of the river, about 20′ of water. Nothing on the graph, but we sure caught a lot of walleyes.
Fall trolling the Rainy River is effective for many reasons. Covering water, reaction strikes, the ability to find the active fish are all in your favor. The next time you decide to try some fall fishing, put on a crankbait for a change and see what happens. The odds are in your favor!
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