The old saying is “go big in the Fall” for big fish. Well, that’s kind of true.  Most do not have the guts to admit it– going small will catch you a ton more walleyes in the Fall—and that’s’ what anglers want.  Pay attention Mille Lacs folks.  The fact is, people, come to Minnesota to catch and eat walleyes.  After over 5,000 guide trips—that’s a fact!  If anglers catch a bonus trophy walleye —great!  But, the majority of the anglers would much rather catch a bunch of walleyes versus one big one!  If you want to catch a large number of walleyes throughout a day—then go small.

Each year, the Spring hatching patterns are controlled by weather, lake water temps, moon/ calendar phases, etc.  Long story short, even after a long growing season, the majority of baitfish are not that large. I’m talking crappies, walleyes, ‘gills –many of the species anglers are after.  The baitfish these fish are pursuing are not big! Half inch up to two inches on average—especially nowadays.  Throw in a few 3”-4 “perch and you have a plan!

That’s why my presentations will usually out fish most anglers 5 to 1.  I purposefully use baits that are 1-3” long—no matter what it is.  The entire image/silhouette that the fish see (and we do not know how they see things in the water) has to match the size of the baitfish currently in the ecosystem.

As far as minnows go, I do not use minnows from early June until around mid-October.  Then the minnows will come out.  I’ve caught a ton of fish on crawlers with surface temps down to 39 degrees.  Use your judgment.  Remember, I am a fishing guide and anglers want to catch “Lotsa of Fish”—hence my slogan—Lotsa Fish Lotsa Fun!  I know it’s not proper grammar.  I did it on purpose just to make my college professors squirm.  Hee Hee. Most are dead now.   Anyway, even if I’m using a crawler, I’m pinching it short to “match the hatch”.  Throw that piece of crawler on a red hook and your golden.

The color red in nature means injured, wounded, easy meal, etc. Done deal.  This small in the Fall theory applies to weed fish or deep fish.  If you truly want big fish only, then use a 5-9-inch minnow of just about any kind.  Suckers are great, redtails are overrated in my opinion.  Rainbow chubs are a perfect economic compromise.  Active, hard to kill, cheap, and one “gulp” and the fish has the hook—which is easy for most anglers to be an effective use.

There ya go, gotta go watch the kids play football real quick.  It’s simple, so keep it that way!  Lotsa Fish Lotsa Fun!  Captain Josh Hagemeister, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service 218-732-9919, 320-291-0708

About The Author

Josh Hagemeister

Captain Josh Hagemeister has been making a living as a professional fishing guide for 31 years. With a passion of fishing that started at age 4, Josh took it to the next level by starting Minnesota Fishing Guide Service ( while still in high school. Throughout college and throughout his adult life Josh has guided over 5,000 trips in the boat alone--and countless ice fishing trips as well. Due to spending nearly 300 days year on the water, Josh has become known as one of the most versatile and efficient multi-species guides throughout the state known to catch fish anywhere at any time. Hence the famous “Guaranteed Fish” associated with Minnesota Fishing Guide Service. While his specialty is walleye (due to demand), Josh enjoys all species of fish including salt water. While most of Josh’s time is spent in a boat knocking out nearly 200 trips or more a season (yes that’s 3 a day much of the time lol), during the “frozen period” he is scouting and moving fish houses for his ice fishing rental/guiding business— Helping people learn about fishing and catching more has been in Josh’s blood since the days he worked at In-Fisherman Magazine’s Camp Fish as an instructional fishing guide. Josh’s most recent endeavor has included the re-creation of Camp Fish ( partnering with Troy Lindner and other former Camp Fish Staff to get the job done. Josh is married and has 3 boys who also love to hunt and fish.