Salt Water Fishing Techniques for Trolling
As we cleared the Atlantic Beach Bridge dawn was breaking in the eastern sky over the Morehead City channel, on our way out of Beaufort inlet home of the famous Big Rock tournament. After a few minutes running up on plane we turned north and buzzed past Cape Lookout searching for some visible sargassum grass lines to try our hand at some early morning Dolphin (Mahi).
When trolling we will use multiple baits, strategically placed on rods with lines close together to fool the fish. The technique is based on the idea that in order to catch dolphin, tuna, wahoo, or sailfish and marlin you will have to imitate the movement of their natural prey – schools of fish that move in very specific patterns.
Trolling for Multiple Species.
When trolling for saltwater predators, there are lots of considerations to keep in mind starting with your offshore location, the bait you have, the trolling technique you are going to use, and the types of fish you would like to catch. For the most part, sailfish, tuna, wahoo, and dolphin respond to the same trolling techniques so you don’t have to vary your approach much. Still, you will have to ask yourself, what kind of fish can be found in particular area your fishing? If you are pretty sure that there are more tuna than wahoo in the area, then you may have to make some subtle adjustments, like type of teasers or colors you are using. The best way is to experiment with several colors until you can pattern the fish better.
Here are some of my favorite types of trolling methods for aggressive fish.
When it comes right down to it, your technique for handling the boat and setting up your equipment depends on the kind of fish you want to catch and the type of boat you happen to have. Every boat is different so you would want to make careful study of the one you are actually using. Generally, here’s what it comes down to:
High Speed Trolling
High speed trolling involves kicking your boat speed up to 15 knots or more. Most people seem to think this is too fast, but high speed trolling is really the way to go if you want to catch wahoo, dolphin and other fish capable of chasing down fast moving bait. These are used to catching prey that flees off in terror, hence the need to fool them with a 15-knot speed that allows for some chasing.
Slow Speed Trolling
In some instances, of course, slow trolling is more ideal. For example, heavier baits are often trolled at slower speeds so that they would not be tumbling around in the water. You want your baits to assume a steady and straight lined pace because they are supposed to imitate actual schools of fish. When was the last time you saw fish swimming with their tail first?
Another excellent technique is kite trolling which perfectly imitates the way baitfish will scatter towards the surface and fly out of the water. This is ideal for tuna fishing since these deep-sea fish are incredibly fond of the resistant prey. The kite basically gives your bait that eye-catching ‘hop’ that looks a lot like flying fish in action.
Planers are the opposite of Kite Trolling in that they are meant to get your bait below the surface down to a certain level. Wahoo, tuna, dolphin, and other predatory fish might swim close to the edge of the water to eat, but you can be sure that there are lots more in the deeper portions of the sea, just waiting for a snack. Planers make sure that your bait reaches the deeper portions, therefore making it easier for you to dangle the bait in your target’s eyesight.
Generally, the goal when trolling baits is to make them work as a unit – like a school of fish swimming through the water. A clean line of air pockets should be created with each bait, what is known as a ‘smoke trail’. You might have to experiment with speed to achieve this result.
Types of Rigs and Ballyhoo Rigged Baits
Fishing with Ballyhoo rigged baits are best if you want to catch different types of aggressive fish like dolphin (Mahi Mahi), tuna, and other predatory fish. In fact, the ballyhoo doesn’t even have to be a native to the waters you are fishing in – with the right speed and positioning, you will be able to get strikes from whatever fish is in the area while trolling. Ballyhoo baits are a no-fail type of rig if you are after two or more species of fish. Two of the best ways to rig ballyhoo are: the pin rig, pinless rigging, and circle hook.
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot experiment with other rigs. The market is currently filled with different types of rigs that can be used as bait for trolling. In these instances, it is best to choose a specific kind of rig that corresponds best with the type of predator fish you want to catch.
When it comes right down to it, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to trolling. You are going to have to vary your techniques depending on the situation and figure out which of your methods get you the best results. Actually, that is part of the fun of trolling.
As it turns out our day was a mixed bag of trolling techniques especially Ballyhoo rigged baits while trolling fast 8-12 knots, we added some colorful skirts, neon and chartreuse worked best. We managed to get 8 Dolphin (Mahi) in the boat along with several different toothy critters, Wahoo and Barracuda. All in all it was a productive 6 hour trip never venturing farther than about 10 miles off of Cape Lookout.
If you ever have the pleasure or opportunity to fish off of North Carolina make sure you buy some pre-rigged ballyhoo and throw in some bright green chartreuse and neon orange skirts, you might just run in to a few aggressive fish and have a blast.
You can find all the Fishing Tackle and Rods, Reels or Combos at FCPTackle.com. We stock all that is needed to Saltwater Fish, Bass Fish or Surf Fish.
Good Luck and Happy Catch!! Remember to take a kid fishing!!
It will hook them for life!