Some of the finest walleye fishing of the year takes place during the fall. The trick is to finding the best action,is to match your presentation to the mood of the 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 spring 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.
Now let’s narrow down some areas that we can concentrate on. First of all, these big females have to eat, right? They will move shallow in the lake to feed and usually they need some reason to do so. This reason is that the shallows are where the prey fish have moved. Lakes have a tendency to layer out or “stratify.” In the fall this would mean that the depths of a lake are warmer than the shallows. The fall cycle of the 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. 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, close to shore.
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 won’t expend a great deal of energy on a small snack. They want something substantial. If the water is cooling off, the fish are slowing down. They become sluggish and don’t 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 can’t 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. Don’t overlook a plump nightcrawler or a jumbo leech pulled behind a crawler harness . Just because the bait is big and plump doesn’t 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.
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 don’t 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. 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 may see the monsters of Lake Erie.