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Monsters of November
By John Campbell

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.

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