Many thousands of New Englanders use the technique of wireline trolling each year to catch striped bass. If you know what you’re doing, it can be very fruitful, but many people mistakenly believe that all you need to do to catch fish is cast your line out and cruise around in your boat. As a result, they are shocked to see others consistently catch fish in the same area while ostensibly using the same technique and even rig. So, something different must exist. Among the factors to take into mind are where the fish are holding, what they are feeding on, and the speed to troll at.
Wireline Trolling For Bass
Fish where they are . Instead of going where you think the fish will be, you must go where they are. Additionally, you must go when the fish are present rather than when you would like them to be. The ideal time to go bass fishing is typically in the morning. They may feed continuously early in the season, but as the season goes on and the sun rises higher in the sky, you won’t see them feeding throughout the day unless there is a tide, a lot of bait, or a weather pattern to tempt them into activity.
There may be something in the form of food down there to keep them engaged, so you may discover them hanging onto a structure and be able to trap them. You must present your offering over a structure if fish are holding there; if you are off by 50′, there is no joy. Turn around and keep going over the location until you stop catching fish if you are trolling and mark a spot and catch fish there. Unless you are very certain there is somewhere better to go, don’t leave the trolling area. Additionally, avoid lingering too long at a location while trolling without success.
Currents and Tides. A current will give bass the chance to lay in wait for a small creature to be swept past their position so they can consume it. Bass are ambush predators. You must pay attention to the current that the tides create. The reef on Block Island North is one instance of this. There are regions where bass like to hide out in the currents, and some of these are good locations to troll wireline.
Trolling Speed. Never troll at the same speed all the time if it isn’t working. Often fish will follow your offering and are waiting for that trigger that tells them that their prey has detected them. Speed up, slow down, change speeds, speed up during your turns. You will be surprised how many times you hook up fish immediately or very soon after a speed change. Sometimes only going at a particular slow speed works, or a particularly fast speed. The most important thing to do is pay attention to what is going on when you hook up. You need to notice if it is always during a speed change, only when you go fast, only when you go very slow, etc. If you speed up and turn, and the inside line picks up a fish, you may not have enough line out since the inside line will usually go deeper, the outside line shallower.
Current can be used to control your speed. If you want to go very slow, troll directly into the current. There is one area I fish trolling to the same spot and slowing down as the boat gets near it, going into the current. At times we are barely moving forward, and when I reach the spot on my GPS one or both rods will go down with fish on (tide is very important in this case.) There are times when you will catch most of your fish only trolling in one direction in relation to the current. Pay attention to what is happening when you hook up.
Trolling Depth. This is extremely important. Your depth finder can mark a million fish below 30′ but if your trolled rig is only 20′ deep you will end up being very frustrated and catching very few fish. Your offering must be presented in the “strike zone”, which is the area close enough that the fish will be interested in hitting your lure. This strike zone can be very large when fish are feeding aggressively, or very small if they are “turned off”.
If you see fish smashing bait on the surface, try letting out a small amount of wireline and troll around the feeding fish, not through the middle of them. So many fisherman shut down the fishing very quickly by trolling through the middle of breaking fish. It is the most idiotic thing they can do. You need to have the lure down near the bottom if you are targeting Bass that aren’t feeding aggressively near the surface. If you are in water under 30′ deep, it is only necessary to be within 5′ of the bottom unless the fish are very sluggish. In deeper water. light penetration becomes an issue and it is necessary to get as close to the bottom as you can without dragging.
The rule of thumb is to let out 10 feet of wire for every 1′ of depth. This is varied by boat speed and the weight of your lure. Naturally, going slower will cause the rig to go deeper and fast will cause it to run shallower. Remember, if you aren’t dragging bottom once in a while, you’re trolling too shallow.
Matching the Hatch. You need to troll an offering which is representative of what the fish are feeding on. If there are hordes of sand eels then you shouldn’t be trolling 6″ soft plastic shads. Bass most often eat bunker, sand eels, and squid. Lures that represent these species are ones you should have available to you. If you catch a keeper, open up its stomach and see what it has been feeding on.
Sport Fishing. This is supposed to be a sport. Keeping the boat in gear and continuing to troll after you have hooked up a fish is winching, not fishing. I have seen so many bass skipping across the surface of the water as they are being reeled up, it’s absolutely ridiculous. You should be fighting the fish and not the boat. Where is the fun in that? So the advice is take the boat out of gear after you hook up.
Your fishing adventures will be more successful if you follow the advice provided here. The final and most crucial piece of advice is to always think about what needs to change when you’re not catching. Are you trolling too shallowly, using the incorrect rig, moving too quickly, etc.? Observe what other people are doing; it can provide you with a hint. Recapture them!