Ranger pro details approach to fall fishing
Walleyes and wing dams go together like peanut butter and jelly. Add crankbaits to the mix and you have the recipe for some super walleye-fishing success, especially during September and October.
“Wing dams are definitely one of my favorite structures to fish throughout the year,” said Ranger pro Jack Neuman of Naperville, Ill. “They are very productive this time of the year through the fall. I primarily fish them when I am on the Mississippi River. So you bet they will be a factor during the RCL Championship in Red Wing in October.”
A wing dam is essentially a man-made rock pile or reef in the shape of an L or T that comes out from shore to divert the current to the main river channel. They are there to prevent erosion, but they end up providing a sanctuary for loads of baitfish and plenty of walleyes.
Fan-cast the face of the dam with crankbaits.
“When I am fishing wing dams, I like to fan-cast with crankbaits,” said Neuman. “I prefer to cast lures like a Bomber A or a Shad Rap. Firetiger or crawdad are my two favorite colors to use. I find that there are plenty of bluegills, crappie and crawdads that live along the face of the wing dam. These smaller fish and crawdads are what the walleye are feeding on. The crankbaits are ideal for covering water in an efficient manner.”
Neuman starts his wing-dam approach by anchoring above the dam at the outer tip.
“I will anchor above the dam along the outer edge first,” said Neuman. “I make 20-or-so casts all along the dam face and then lift my anchor and motor towards the middle of the dam and start fan-casting again. I will use this kind of run-and-gun approach while fishing wing dams until I encounter an active group of walleyes.”
Don’t forget your dead-stick.
“When you are fishing an area that allows you to use more than one rod at a time, I suggest that you use a dead-stick rod in addition to your casting rod,” said Neuman. “I like to tie on a crankbait to this rod and let out enough line to let the crankbait wiggle above the dam, close to the dam face. This is especially productive when fishing the outer edge of the wing dam in water ranging from 4 to 10 feet deep.”
Neuman suggests fishing the front dams when the water is low and back dams when the water is high.
“Wing dams are usually grouped with several of them in a row,” said Neuman. “A good rule of thumb to follow is to fish the upriver dams in the series when the water is low and fish the dams further downriver in the series when the water is high. Of course this is not guaranteed, but it generally holds true.”
Be prepared for plenty of action.
“One of the great things about fishing wing dams is that you will never know what you will catch,” said Neuman. “Sure, when I am fishing in a tournament, I want to be catching walleyes. But if you are looking for good action, the wing dams are hard to beat. This is especially true on the Mississippi River. You will catch catfish, northern pike and lots of smallmouth bass in addition to walleyes. And if you are using smaller baits, you may even catch bluegills and crappies. They are just very big hangouts for all sorts of bait and gamefish.”