The Fisherman recently published an article titled "Top 10 Mistakes Made Trolling" by Capt. Steve Tombs. I would like to add some of my thoughts to his major points.
- Check the lures or bait periodically: If the baits get fouled with weed or grass they won't track properly and won't catch fish. If you find one lure fouled, check all lures.
- Troll your lure at the proper depth: Striped bass are usually in the bottom 1/2 of the water column. Using wire line, downriggers, trolling drails and diving plugs can get the lures down to the fish. A few years ago I caught a fluke in late October while trolling an umbrella rig. Yes, I know fluke season is closed then. The fish was released. My point is that I knew my lure was deep, just off the bottom. Using braided line will also allow the lure to run deeper because this line has a smaller diameter over mono.
- Troll proper speed: I like to troll "slow" for striped bass. A slow troll will also help the lures run deeper. A faster troll can be used for bluefish or weakfish. Even a faster troll for anything in the tuna family.
-Mix lure type and color: On some days some colors or types simply work better than others. Don't be afraid to change lures until you find what works.
- Don't come to a stop if a rod goes off: You may have to slow down or bump the engines in and out of gear; but try to keep the boat moving. This will save time and keep you fishing while you land the fish. This tactic will not work in the bay as the water is shallow. Slowing the boat in the bay will send the lures to the bottom and foul them with grass. Here it is better to stop, clear lines and land the fish.
- Use your VHF radio to improve your trolling success: What? Yes, you can use the radio to help you catch fish. Fisherman may not tell you where they are catching fish; but, most will share what lures are working for them and what depth they are trolling in.
Trolling is not a spectator sport. Yes the boat does most of the work, but it still takes hands on skill and attention to detail to maximize your catch.
Good Luck, Dave Solt