Bob Jensen |
Across the Midwest and almost all of North America, most fish in most places are done spawning. After a few days of rest, those fish will want to eat. If you can put a bait near a fish, it will probably eat it. Therefore, it’s good to show as many fish as possible your bait, and the best way to do that is by trolling. Trolling enables an angler to cover lots of water quickly and efficiently. Here’s how you can troll to catch more fish now and for the next few months.
Location, Location, Location
Lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are prime trolling locations. It may sound pretty basic, but you need to be fishing near where the fish are. From now and through the rest of the year, the predator fish will be wherever the food is. Find where the shiners are spawning and you’ll probably find walleyes. In lakes where shad suspend, you’ll want to troll through and around those suspended shad. If you find their food, you’re going to find the predator fish.
You can troll with jigs, spinner rigs, or crankbaits. I use all of these baits when trolling, but I usually reach for a crankbait first. You can troll faster with crankbaits, so you can cover more water faster. Much of the time we’ll be trolling at two miles an hour or maybe even faster. Trolling has become a very pleasant thing with the design of modern motors. During the past couple of years I’ve run or been in boats with Suzuki outboards ranging from 90 to 250 horsepower. These motors are tremendously quiet and fuel efficient, no exhaust fumes, and anglers are amazed at how well they’ll perform at trolling speeds.
When you get to a location where you think there should be fish, it’s time to get a bait in the water. Keep an eye on your sonar to detect the presence of baitfish or big fish. Again, they’ll be around each other. Select a bait that runs at about the level that you think the fish are running at. Much of the time that will be close to the bottom. If the water is ten feet deep, use a bait that will run eight or nine feet down. You want the bait to be a bit above the fish. In stained water, you need to get the bait close to the fish, in clear water they’ll move a bit farther to take a bit as they can see farther in clear water. In a good number of waters, suspending fish are a common thing. Put your bait where the fish are.
More is Better
Getting multiple lines in the water is very beneficial when trolling. You can show the fish lots of different bait styles, colors, and running depths, and this increases your chance for finding the bait they want on that day. Planer boards enable an angler to fish more lines more efficiently. Planer boards take your bait out away from the boat so a wider trolling pass is possible. If you’re fishing in a two line state, and there are two of you fishing, put a line on a board out to each side of the boat, and put two lines out behind the boat. You’ll cover a wide area and you’ll get bit more often. The planer boards from Off Shore are easy to use, easy to read, and will put more fish in the boat.
When it comes to walleyes, Lucky Shad have become our go-to crankbait and we’ll for sure have a couple of them in the water. But to get deeper, we’ll have a Strike King Banana Shad on an inside line. You generally want the deeper running baits directly behind the boat and the shallower running ones out to the side.
If you want to catch more fish, try trolling next time out. Chances are good that you’ll catch more fish and a greater variety. Trolling is an outstanding way to catch more fish in the summer and into the fall. If you haven’t already, give it a try.
Feature Image: A selection of Lucky Shad and other crankbaits that fit most trolling situations.
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For more articles by Bob, visit From the Field here on The American Outdoorsman.