Tips for consistent trolling results

12 years ago

Tips for consistent trolling results


by Bill Graves

    Spring trolling is a much enjoyed and productive method of fishing streamer flies, lures and baitfish on Aroostook’s lakes and ponds. Once winter’s lid of ice melts away, the fish are extremely active for a couple of weeks, often providing the season’s fastest angling and largest fish. Ask any veteran spring troller the key to success and the answer in most cases will be to make frequent changes.

    Troll with two rods; a fly rod and a spinning rod, using rod holders to keep both active at the same time. Change baits on the spinning rod frequently until a particular offering produces consistently. Try shallow running floating plugs such as Rapalas, Rebels or Yo-Zuri minnows in multiple sizes and colors. Orange, blue, silver and red are popular colors, while a reflective mirror-finish with hues of purple or green are a new and effective plug finish. Many of those plugs have pieces of metal inside that rattle and click as the lure wiggles drawing fish to the noise, then the color and motion draws an attack.

    Popular lures such as Super Dupers, Dardevles, Al’s Goldfish, and Panther Martins are available in basic gold, silver and bronze metal and in well over a dozen brightly painted combinations. Each runs at a different depth and has its own special wiggle or wobble to attract strikes. If a troller doesn’t change lures a dozen times per outing, he must have found the right one early in the trip.

    Streamer flies fall into two categories, baitfish imitations and attractor patterns, each of which will work well under certain conditions. Smelt and minnow look-alikes that every spring angler should have in the fly box include a gray ghost, green ghost, black nose dace, supervisor, nine-three, and Magog Smelt. When smelt are spawning in certain lakes, the baitfish colored and styled patterns generally offer fast and furious action. Brightly hued streamer flies that draw strikes from instinct or irritation are sure fish takers when waters are murky and debris filled. Among the best known and proven winners are the Mickey Finn, Miss Sharon, rainbow ghost, Barnes special and little brook trout.

    Use of a three-way swivel with one 10 foot leader, and one five foot leader with a moderate-size split shot sinker mid way up the short length allows two streamers to be trolled at once from the same rod. The long leader and fly run one to two feet below the surface while the short weighted leader tracks three or four feet deep. A bait imitation and an attractor pattern may both be fished at the same time, until one proves to work best. Then two of that style may be trolled at the same time.

    Changes in bait colors, shapes, sizes and styles aren’t the only beneficial alterations for spring trollers. Boat speed and direction are crucial as well, and subject to many changes. Salmon are attracted to fast moving baits, while trout prefer slowly trolled offerings, so adjust boat speed for each particular species. When wind creates a surface chop, be sure to troll both directions, with and against the waves.  The wind and wave action will change not only boat speed and motion, but fly and lure speed, depth and motion as well.

    Rather than trolling in straight lines as is often the norm, change to a continuous S pattern. Such a pattern will cover more water, and allow baits to change speed and depth at the arc of each curve. During trolling runs, anglers trolling streamer flies prefer to hold the rod and use wrist action to twitch the rod tip and ultimately the flies.

    Gravel bars, rocky points, thoroughfares mouths and brook inlets are spots that deserve extra trolling runs, but if half a dozen passes yield no strikes it’s time to change baits. If a few more tries still doesn’t produce a fish or two then it’s time to change locations. Larger waterways have plenty of likely holding runs, try as many as necessary to find some action.

    The final change is the big one; change lakes! If a full morning passes with minimal results, it’s time to spend the afternoon on a different waterway. In cases such as the Fish River chain of lakes, where several lakes are interconnected by thoroughfares, the change over is simple. Often it’s an hour chore to load and trailer the boat to a nearby lake, but that’s better than wasting that time on unproductive water.

    Change is a good thing for spring anglers who enjoy lake trolling. This particular style of fishing runs hot and cold from day to day, but experimenting with the many changes I’ve mentioned will make an obvious difference. It’s a short season, so your first change should be to include a fishing trip in this weekend’s plans.