Fish Rocks in NovemberBy Mike Mladenik - November 1, 2006
First off we must determine which lakes are going to be the most productive. Clear water is a must for consistent fishing. The clearer and more infertile the water the greater your odds will be to land a trophy fish. Many clear lakes will have trophy class fish, but there numbers can be low. These clear lakes have a depleted forage base and large predator fish are on the prowl. Darker and moderately fertile lakes will have a greater abundance of forage and large predator fish are less apt to cooperate. Flowages in particular which are steady producers most of the year see only limited November action unless there is a limited forage base or a migration downstream above a dam.
Besides clear water the second important factor is rocks. On many clear lakes rocks are the only form of structure available on the lake. By November weeds are dead and don't play an important part in fish location. The last remaining forage can be found relating to rock. By rocks I am referring to both offshore structure and shoreline rocks. These same areas may only hold a few transit fish throughout summer and early fall. On certain days you will find fish relating to the rocks but they don't hold there for extended periods of time. Basically they move in and out. Once the temperature drops below 48 degrees more and more forage fish move into the rocks. Since all types of forage fish move into the rocks expect all types of predator fish to be present. Walleye, musky, smallmouth, largemouth and pike may all be present on the same structure. Not only will you find an abundance of fish, but trophy fish as well. A lake does not have an abundance of rock to be productive. If too much rock is present in the lake finding fish can be difficult. Look for lakes with only a few rocks piles or rocky points. A fisherman must also understand that all rocks are different. Your favorite rock shoreline that held fish in spring might not be productive in November. However, on other lakes the same rock shoreline can be productive. Rock shorelines with access to deep water are most productive. Shallow rock flats are only productive if they are the only rock available within the lake.
Smallmouth bass tend to school up heavily in November as they relate to deep rocks. Once they are found, the fishing can be fantastic, since they school up according to size. Even the smallest rock point or hump can hold a number of big smallmouth. Big smallmouth will suspend off the rocks and are easy to locate with your electronics. Look for smallmouth to relate to the 20 to 25 foot depths. Once these smallmouth are found position your boat over the fish. If the wind is strong, anchor your boat, upwind allowing you to cast to the marked fish. The most productive method is to position your boat over the fish with your electric trolling motor. Hold atop the fish and vertical jig. I use both live and artificial bait presentations and the wise fisherman will also use both methods. A jig and chub combo is hard for any hawg smallmouth to pass up. If the bite is light use a Aberdeen hook with a small split shot about 12 inches above the chub. Plastics are also effective but a slow retrieve is a must. Use a six foot six medium light action rod like a Lamiglas Certified Pro XS 66 DH.
Walleyes will also relate to rocks but are less likely to suspend. If smallmouth are not present in the lake then walleyes can suspend. Walleyes will also relate to much deeper structure than smallmouth. It is common to find walleyes as deep as 35 feet on many clear water lakes.
Pike and musky can also be feeding off rock structure although they are solitary fish. Both live and artificial presentations are effective.
Both clear and overcast days can be productive depending on the conditions. I have had my greatest success on clear lakes under stable weather patterns or just before a front. Bluebird skies after a front passes can mean tough fishing for all species. Those overcast conditions just prior to a front can be signal trophy time. These are the days notorious for producing trophy musky.
Once November arrives don't put the boat away. Remember, this is trophy time and take advantage of every last minute. It may seem like punishment at times but once you get a big fish on, you will forget all your discomfort.