Another list of details for your considerationWORTHINGTON — I wrote a column a week ago about some specific attentions to detail that you can use to catch more fish when fishing from a dock. I covered some things that make for a better day of fishing regardless if the bite is hot or tame. There are these same attentions to detail that you can use tomorrow if you are one of those lucky enough to spend the day in a boat.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I wrote a column a week ago about some specific attentions to detail that you can use to catch more fish when fishing from a dock. I covered some things that make for a better day of fishing regardless if the bite is hot or tame. There are these same attentions to detail that you can use tomorrow if you are one of those lucky enough to spend the day in a boat.
These details might have higher costs than those associated with shore fishing, so they may not be as easily available to all anglers. Opening day in Nobles County is normally a trolling day. This makes use of artificial lures trolled at certain speeds to catch active walleyes.
With the early spring and generally warmer than normal temperatures, this trolling bite should be pretty good. The warmer the water is, the more active the fish will be. Water temps from those I talked to are much above the norm for this time of year.
The key to catching fish while trolling is the ability to duplicate every aspect that netted you the first fish.
The tips that follow are equally valuable and their order does not indicate their importance.
The first is speed. When trolling, I start making a mental note of the boat’s speed. I start out slower, about 1½ miles per hour. The only way to know this is to have a depth finder that includes a speed indicator. They are very sensitive and indicate speeds down to one-tenth of a mile per hour. I troll a certain speed for 30 minutes and if I have not contacted a fish, I then increase the speed by ¼-mile per hour. This speed change continues every 30 minutes until I contact a fish. When the rod bends over in the rod holder, the first thing I do is note the speed.
I do this before I throttle down the engine to reel in the hooked fish. When the fish is in the boat, I accelerate the boat back to the exact speed that it was traveling when I hooked the first fish. Trolling at 2 mph might be deadly, but result in no fish at 2.75 mph. The ability to duplicate the speed is critical.
The second tip is line distance. If you troll 2 mph with 120 feet of line out, the lure will run a certain depth and with a certain action. As I am changing the boat’s speed, I am also experimenting with longer or shorter line distance. The only way to know the exact number of feet your lure is running behind the boat is to use a line counter reel. I experiment with line distance and make a mental note when I contact a fish as to how much line was out.
This allows me to duplicate the lure’s exact depth in the water column and the lure’s action when I put the lure back in the water. A certain lure at 120 feet back might catch many fish, but the same lure out 160 feet might catch none. This is another way to duplicate what was successful when you contacted that first fish.
All of my reels have exactly the same kind of line and breaking strength. Rods with different line diameters will run lures at different depths. This kills your ability to duplicate success. All of the reels are the same kind as well. You can take two different models of line counter reels and although 150 feet should be the same on every reel it is not. Some reels measure in yards not feet and they differ in the size of their spools so there can and is variances. Avoid this by using the same equipment in every rod holder.
In the fishing group I traveled with years ago we even made sure every member of that group had the same equipment and line. That way when you heard the hot tip that a lure at 150 feet at 2.5 mph on Lake X was the ticket, you could go there and do exactly that. Keep all of the reel spools full. A reel that is half empty will read differently than one that the spool is completely full on.
The last tip is getting you down to the finest of details. When you attach a lure to the end of the line, you need to use a small snap. This allows you to change lure color and size more easily. With the old eyes that are common in the age category of the guys I fish with, there is a tendency to use a larger snap. They are easier to see and use without reading glasses and make changing lures easier.
As with shore fishing, the larger the terminal tackle you use the more it impedes the lure’s action. I use a very small snap that requires a needle nose pliers and readers.
It seems like a pain in the butt — and it is — but the lure runs better and has better action with a smaller snap. Take the time to do it right and it can make a difference.
Other details you should consider are to watch the lure every time you put it out. Catching a fish can knock a lure out of balance. Every time I catch a fish I set the lure out behind the boat and watch that lure for about 10 seconds, running just under the surface about 10 feet behind the boat.
If it runs off to one side or another even just a little, I true the lure by bending the eyelet on the lure just ever so slightly with a plier in the opposite direction that it wants to run. This might take two or more attempts to get it to run just right, but a lure off balance runs bad and rarely catches any fish.
The last tip is probably as important as all of those that preceded it. Reel in the lure every 15 minutes no matter what. This might be to change the lure size or color if you have not contacted fish, but if you have already zeroed in on what the fish want, you need to check the lure every 15 minutes anyway. Many good fishermen can identify even the slightest changes in the way the lure is running by holding the rod in their hands and feeling for the vibration of the lure.
Even the best of the best are not perfect, and if the lure has picked up the smallest piece of grass or other debris (undetectable by holding the rod) it changes the lure’s action and rarely will any fish bite it. I have seen boats on the lake where its occupants were so distracted by conservation or sporting events on the radio that even after their lure had hit the bottom, caught some debris and was now dragging on the surface, they trolled it around that way for an hour or more with zero chance of catching anything. Checking the lure every 15 minutes is the opposite of these fishermen.
Fishing time is hard enough to get, so when you are on the water you might as well make the very best of that time by doing a few things that just might put a few more fish in the boat. Doing everything right is still no guarantee you will catch fish, but it does stack the odds in your favor.
Here is stacking the odds in your favor and wishing you a safe and successful opener tomorrow.
P.S.: Remember to wear a life jacket.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.