Some of the finest walleye fishing of the year takes place
during the fall. The trick is to find the best action, and
to match your presentation to the mood of the fish. Fall walleye
fishing can be extremely unpredictable, but most sources will
say that usually the poorest weather conditions will produce
the largest fish. Most large fish caught in the fall are females.
To nourish their developing eggs the female walleye needs
to consume large quantities of food. November is a special
time of the year, if you are interested in finding large fish,
especially those wallhanger walleyes that we seek during the
summer months. Probably more 10 lb. plus walleyes are caught
during the month of November than any other month. Those big
walleyes are starting a feeding frenzy to fatten themselves
up before winter arrives. Just as during the spring and summer
months, the weedbeds will still be a key location for the
fish, as long as the weeds are still green. Just as you worked
the weedbeds in the summer months, seek out and concentrate
on points, turns, pockets, and other changes in the weedline.
Now letís narrow down some areas that we can start to concentrate
on. First of all, these big females have to eat, right? They
will move shallow in a lake or river to feed and usually they
need some reason to do so. The reason is that is where the
prey fish have moved. Lakes have a tendency to layer out or
ďstratify.Ē In the fall this would mean that the depths of
a lake are warmer than the shallows. The fall cycle of a lake
allows the stratified layers to turnover and therefore the
cooler water is on the shoreline. Big walleyes will swim into
the shallow waters to go a feeding spree. If you are in the
shallows when this takes place hang onto the rod, you are
about to catch some of the largest walleyes of your life.
As they get full they may slide down to deeper parts of the
lake, but again remember they have to eat and one of places
to start looking for big walleyes is shallow. How shallow?
Sometimes it maybe six inches of water, just enough to cover
them. On Lake of the Woods late summer and early fall patterns
find big walleyes moving shallow enough for some fisherman
to actually see the walleyes. The shallow water stays cool
enough for big walleyes through the summer. If the walleyes
can find boulders or other shallow water cover to provide
shade, they may spend the summer at depths of 10 feet or less.
If this is the case, most anglers fish too deep.
||In the fall big fish like big baits. In fact, that is
never truer than prior to ice-up. The water is cooling
down rapidly and those fish wonít expend a great deal
of energy on a snack. They want something substantial.
If the water is cooling off, the fish are slowing down.
They become sluggish and donít want to chase all over
the lake for food. They want something easy and a lot
of it. The anglers must also slow down their presentation
to match the mood of the fish. Walleyes canít resist the
slow wobble of a crankbait. These large fat baits pulled
slowly with long-line trolling techniques or casts into
the shallows produce fish. Donít overlook a plump nightcrawler
or a jumbo leech pulled behind a Little Joe Spinner.Just
because the bait is big and plump doesnít mean that your
hooks have to be gigantic. A small hook allows a walleye
to swallow the bait without feeling anything unusual.
And a small hook will not break or pull out. Most big
walleyes are hooked under snag-free conditions, so if
you take your time and do not attempt to horse the fish,
light line will do the job.
Many times I will scale down my line from 6lb test Stren
Original to a 4lb. test, or I might even put on 6lb. test
Stren Fluorocarbon, just to get a better feel and allow the
big walleye as little resistance as possible. Backtrolling
works best for vertical presentations to fish concentrated
in distinct spots or at precise depths along distinct edges
like drop-offs and weededges. Backtrolling generally performs
best with slow triggering presentations like live-bait rigs
or vertical jig and minnow combinations, or with vertical
jigging presentation like jigging spoons or bladebaits. Most
anglers consider backtrolling a deep-water technique, though
in some cases, most notably river fishing itís possible to
hover just a few feet above walleyes and fish vertically without
spooking them. Or backtroll, hover, or drift the boat through
the shallows while casting to targets. Think about what time
of day you would like to be on the water. Most of us would
like to be there when the weather is nice, sunny and bright.
The big walleyes donít want to be around during high sunny
skies. They would prefer the low-light conditions or even
the darkest night conditions to make their feeding run. Monster
walleyes are on most large bodies of water in the Upper Midwest.
As the fall winds start to blow and you feel that you would
rather be back at home sitting by the fire that is the time
when monster walleyes are on the prowl. Try these simple techniques
and you will see the monsters that swim in your lake or river.
For more information about Monsters of November, contact me
on the web at www.walleye.info.
Hope to see you on the water soon before freeze up.