For the last several weeks, I’ve been preparing for trout season. Of course, there has been no small amount of encouragement; our two boys (I mean young men; sons Wade and Blake are now 20 and 23), remembering all the fun we had last year reminded me they’d like to go again. Unlike when they were younger and eager to help, and because they’re busy surfing the Internet, texting their friends or girlfriends, playing video games or chasing the latest movies, music and more, I’ll ready the boat, spool new line on all reels, rig them up and “don’t forget the food” in advance of our trip.
Although we employ many different fishing techniques for trout, trolling is one of our favorites because by doing so we can cover a large amount of water in a short amount of time, which will guarantee our lures will come in contact with hungry fish. While trolling will allow us (and you) to do this, our advice would be to not troll too fast. Trout are almost always more interested in a lure or bait presented in a slow fashion.
The use of oars or an electric trolling motor are popular means of propulsion because they facilitate slow going. For example, electric trolling motors are designed with a variable speed control that starts at zero. If your method of propulsion is a gas outboard, getting it to idle down may require a fresh tank of gasoline and a pre-season tune up for it to run smoothly.
While trolling slowly is important, so is trolling in an erratic pattern. Fish that are initially attracted to your gear may lose interest if your lure doesn’t run away or swim erratically when approached.You can duplicate this injured-prey reaction by zigzagging or changing your boat speed, which will often trigger predator fish to respond.
Trout are naturally curious and interested in quickly investigating an easy meal before other fish beat them to it. When fish are foraging, the movement of their silver bodies as they feed displays the same opportunity to other fish. A parallel example would be to watch the response of other nearby birds when one finds an easy meal. The reflection of lake trolls or flashers duplicates this predator/prey activity and will quickly attract aggressive trout.
Lake trolls come in different sizes and finishes. Some of the more popular names are Cowbell or Ford Fender. High-qualities trolls, with premium plating and polishing jobs, reflect better and attract more trout than cheaper ones. Generally blades that are plated nickel are more productive during sunny conditions, while brass, 50/50 or genuine silver finishes produce best when the sun is low or skies overcast.
Using a troll, particularly a large one, adds weight to your outfit that can interfere with the fight of small fish; for this reason, ultra-light trolls or easy pulling 4- or 6-inch Fish Flash flashers are popular.
However, trolls and/or flashers will often attract hungry trout when all else fails. You don’t need to rig an attractor on every line to be effective. One option is to rig one or two attractors to “call” fish into your lures allowing you to fish other lines “clean” with just a spoon, spinner or plug attached.
Lures or bait will produce results when trolled alone or in combination with an attractor. For example, a worm threaded on a hook can produce results when pulled behind your boat. Thin-bladed spoons like a Triple Teaser are designed specifically for trolling; tiny vibrating plugs like a FlatFish or Kwikfish work; and spinners, due to their sonic vibration, can draw strikes.
Adding a fish attractant to your lure can increase its effectiveness. You’ll find an innumerable array of scents available for this purpose. In addition to spraying my lures with an attractant, I often add a small section from a scent-filled worm or grub to the hook of my plug, spinner or spoon — just pierce it onto the hook point.
Although grubs are available in different colors, we’ve found the white or black to be the most productive.
The distance your lure or bait is rigged behind your attractor can be a deciding factor in your success. Leader lengths ranging from 20 to 30 inches are considered standard.
However, fish that might be initially attracted to the flash and vibration of your attractor might be too shy to get real close. This is especially true when water conditions are clear; a time when leaders ranging from 3-5 feet in length might produce best.
Our two sons’ prodding caused me to prepare for opening day early this season and reflect on the basics of trolling for trout. We’re ready for opening day. Are you?