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By Chris S.Bell
Wireline trolling for Bass

Overview. Wireline trolling is a techinique that is used by many
thousands of New Englanders every year to catch striped bass. It can
be very productive if you know what your doing, but many people think
you simply put the line out and motor around in your boat to catch
fish, and are surprised when they see others catch fish after fish in
the same area and apparently doing the same thing and even using the
same rig. Well, there must be something different. Knowing where
the fish are holding, what their feeding on and the speed to troll at
are just some of the considerations to take into account.

Where are the Fish. You have to go where the fish are, not where you
want them to be. You also have to go when the fish are there, not
when you want them to be there. For any kind of Bass fishing, early
morning is usually the best. Early in the season they may feed
throughout the day, but as the season progresses and the sun gets
higher in the sky you won't find them feeding during the day unless
there is tide and a lot of bait or a weather pattern to entice them
into activity. You may find them holding on structure and be able to
catch them but its pretty certain that there is something in the way
of food down there to keep them interested. If the fish are holding
on structure, you have to present your offering over that structure,
if you are off by 50' there is no joy. If you are trolling and mark
and catch fish, turn around and keep going over the spot until you
stop catching. Don't go trolling away unless your damn sure there is
something better to head to. And don't spend too much time trolling
around a spot and not catching.

Tides and currents. Bass are ambush predators and a current will
provide them with the opportunnity to lay in wait for a small creature
to be swept past their position so they can gobble it up. It is the
current generated by the tides you need to pay atention to. An
example of this would be the Block Island North reef. The currents
there provide areas which bass like to use as ambush points, and some
of these are places 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
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
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 faste 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.

By following the guideleines presented here the reward will be more
success for your fishing trips. The last and most important piece of
advice when your not catching is this: remember to ask yourself: "what
do I need to change?" Are you going too fast, using the wrong rig,
trolling too shallow, etc. Watch what other people are doing, it may
give you a clue. Catch 'em up!

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About the Author:
Chris S.Bell

Chris Bell has been in computers for 20 years and has run a Rhode Island Fishing Charterprofessionally for the last 7 years.

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