There is that point in every beginner’s life where they decide to switch from bank fishing to fishing from a boat. If you’re just getting into boat fishing, the easiest thing to do is to go to a lake that rents row boats and take one out for an afternoon.
Once you’ve mastered the challenge of just DEALING with all your fishing tackle in the boat, then you can try trolling.
Just What Is Trolling?
Put very simply, trolling is drawing a baited fishing line through the water. Trolling can be done with one or more people in the boat. But, if you’re just getting started, I think it’s easier if one person runs the motor and the others fish.
It’s a challenge to try to run the motor
AND deal with anything you catch
AND not get the line fouled in the motor.
If you’re trolling for lake trout, then you’ll want to use a lure specifically designed for trout. I’ve tried trolling with worms or Power Bait with no success; the lures are specially designed to get the job done.
My favorite lure for trolling for lake trout is a flatfish lure. I’ve had mine since I was 8 so it actually has a name: Sir Gregory. Go figure!
Here are my three biggest tips for getting started with trolling.
1. Troll Slowly
Big fish will not expend any more energy than necessary to catch a meal. Also, most lures will not perform correctly at fast speeds. The best advice is to troll SLOWLY, the slower the better.
When ESP Boss and I troll, sometimes he refuses to use a motor and rows instead. Of course, this may have something to do with a full reel of line being wrapped around a new electric motor and ruining it. (I was 9 but he’s never gotten over it!) A plus of using oars is that the movement of the lure is a bit erratic as it moves quickly and then slowly with the rhythm of the rowing.
However, if you must use a motor, make sure it will throttle down to a crawl, or, better yet, purchase a multi-speed electric motor. You can use the electric motor for trolling and save a larger gas motor for power. Just be sure that your type and size of motor is permitted on the lake!
Most of the lakes listed on EatStayPlay.com have motor information.
2. Vary Your Speed
While slow speeds are critical, this does not mean the same slow speed all the time. A lure running through the water at a constant speed, at a constant depth and giving off the same vibration pattern will not catch many fish. The movement is too regular and there’s nothing to indicate an easy meal or that something (i.e. the lure) is in trouble. Troll slowly, but adjust your speed every few minutes to change the lure’s speed and vibration pattern.
3. Troll In “S” Shaped Curves
The best results mean that you shouldn’t troll back and forth in a straight line. An “S” pattern is great, because every time the lure is on the inside swing of the boat, it will drop deeper and slow down. On an outside turn, the lure will speed up and rise. With each turn, you will impart a different action to the lure, signaling meal time to nearby fish.
If you know where the fish like to hang out in the lake (EVERY lake has hot spots), then swinging curves to pass the lure through these areas should also get results.
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you prefer to fish from the shore or a boat?
- If fishing from a boat, would you rather troll or bottom fish?
- Do you have any trolling tips to share?