November Patterns Find Slow Muskies in Slow Water
Seasons change and of course, muskies change. November is a make-or-break time for anglers in all parts of the US. This is the late fall period that might have some anglers pulling their hair out in hopes of landing the fish of a lifetime. Landing a monster musky isn’t something any devoted angler takes lightly, so why aren’t we equally obsessed with putting in the work to find them? November muskies can sometimes feel like the hardest to find and least likely to eat, but starting out each trip in the right direction might help you make shorter work of getting those buggers to eat.
When targeting the fattest muskies in November, if you’re in the mood to cast, it’s best to think of low and slow. Muskies at this time of year are the ultimate when it comes to laziness. The biggest and smartest muskies are reserving their energy to pack on the pounds for winter, so they’re in no mood to chase buzzing bucktails or speedy crankbaits. We like to think of November as the season of the “pause”. This is the best time to pick up the slowest reel in your arsenal and relax your cast.
Any baits can be functional in this fall environment when casting, but here are a few favorites that really get the monsters motivated:
If you’re starting out in using glide baits or if you are a master, it doesn’t matter when it comes to Phantoms because they absolutely do exactly what your rod tip tells them. These Gliders can get deep and go for long extended pauses to replicate an easy target. It may seem counter-intuitive but don’t try to find a rhythm with this time of year. It’s important to be erratic with short slow taps, long lingering taps, and definitely generous pauses.
Another great option for November cold temperatures is the 10” Posseidon. This lure really sings in cold fall temperatures and has a great lumbering action for a predator to lock on to. A great tip: if you just want to crank this bait and give it long pauses so it gets deep and moves slowly, it will work just fine. The trick to fall fishing is not to overwork the bait, you wanna make it easy for the finickiest musky.
The trick with the Pounder is dragging this bad boy over the structure. Sometimes you can really just allow it to sit on the bottom. This bait is a monster producer when it comes to cold, low, and slow-moving muskies. It doesn’t always need to be in the water column. Allowing a walleye pattern to slow jig across the bottom of your water column is all muskies need to attack. Add more tails if you move one that needs some extra enticement.
If you’re finding that your shoulder is feeling the heat from chucking oversized lures this fall, switch modes and throw up a trolling rod to appease those screaming tendons. It’s not a new concept to focus on fall trolling patterns, it’s a tried-and-true method to locating monsters with less physical output. Let’s face it, it’s already freezing, why not sit with a cup of joe and let the lures do the work?
The key to getting an eat while trolling throughout November is following the deep contours off of the previously occupied weed beds. Follow the path laid out by bait fish in your lake. Wherever there is a snack in sight, a musky isn’t far behind lying in wait to snap up an easy target. This means you have to put your bait in the right spot and the right spot is generally near where the bait fish are settling. Typically, this involves trailing your lures anywhere from 20 to 60 feet behind the boat to hit that target depth depending on your lake and structure. As mentioned, it is really important to follow those deep outside breaks, but only if they contain fish and if they are off of now dead or dying weed beds. Muskies usually move deeper and deeper but lakes like to situate themselves close to their home structures for foraging. Keep this in mind.
Some great suggestions for fall trolling:
This bait has the impact you’re going to need to hook up with a dinosaur. Headlocks have great body wobbles that interest even the most lumbering beast. A big tip, make sure you are giving your headlock a needed pause by adding zags and turns. As you add in these movements the inside lure will have time to really pause and drop a big in the column, a perfect time to get that strike.
Even if you’re not getting bites on oversized lures, November is a great time to pull out the stops with this oversized grandma. It gives big fish options. Muskies know their target, so mixing it up in your trolling size is a phenomenal way to guarantee more strikes. A 10” offering doesn’t look as huge next to a 13” offering. So, if you are trolling multiple rods, grab a 13” Grandma as an offset size, to encourage muskies to “pick a size”. If they want something huge, then you’re prepared.
Of all the things that make Fall fishing unique, the best part is really being forced to mix up your tactics when approaching your day on the water. Slow is not how most anglers like to boat their fish, but fall fishing and slowing down presentations is a great way to really tune in your techniques and make the most of shorter, colder days. When it comes to making sure you’re on the mark, just highlight those deeper water bait fish zones, and make that your target for a slower moving and slightly more persnickety audience.