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Trolling Basics

Trolling on the Great Lakes is the primary search, find and catch technique for nomad open water Salmon, Trout and Walleye. Trolling is a method by which you pull your lures by driving the boat using it's engine power. It is typically more successful then casting from a boat that is stationary because you are looking for moving fish in large expanses of open water that may even be away from structure (physical irregularities on the bottom).

Open water fish, also called pelagic fish, often relate to non-physical features in open water. Areas where temperatures in the water can vary, currents converge and/or where baitfish (prey fish) are congregated in schools. Because these areas are subject to change, so to are the fish location. "Here today-gone tomorrow" is common when hunting salmon, trout or walleye on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

This is where FINtastic Sportfishing comes in to provide the experience, technology, the best equipment and communications with other fisherman to relocate and catch these moving fish from one day to the next. They call it "Fishing" not Catching, but you already put the odds in your favour when you hire our services.

Depending on the fish specie we are after the normal lures of choice for Salmon and Trout include flutter trolling spoons like Yeck Spoons, flashers with trolling flies, dodgers with trolling flies, and various minnow imitating baits. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie tends to require slightly different tackle which includes spinner worm harnesses with Yeck Colorado Blades and various minnow imitating body baits.


Catching Pelagic Fish

On Lake Ontario and Lake Erie you are lawfully allowed to use two rods per person. This doesn't necessarily mean more fish, but it does provide a method of quickly determining what the fish want to bite and at what depth and activity level they appear to be most catchable.

On our charter we will run as little as 6 or as much as 12 rods at one time. Rod management is our specialty and with years of practice and many miles of tangled lines, we have it down to a science.

We use a variety of methods to maintain minimal line tangles and some of the additional devises that make this possible includes Walker Downriggers, Planer boards, Walker Deeper Divers, Tripz divers and sinking lines like Leadcore line, stainless steel wire, copper wire, and snap weights.

Often the fish inhabit a comfortable depth that provides the right temperature, the right amount of light penetration, and enough surrounding water to provide a sense of security. The fish's preferred depth is more than likely suspended in the water column and requires controlled depth lure presentations to get the bait down to the fish.


Trolling Tools of the Trade

Walker Downriggers is the primary tool of controlled depth fishing. Line from the fishing rod pulls the lure behind the boat. The line is pinched in a release clip that is attached to a heavy weight called a "cannonball". The cannonball can weigh between 7-14 lbs with 8-12 lbs being the normal weight. 

The downrigger is spooled with up to 200 feet of 195 lbs test stainless steel wire that attaches and lowers the cannonball pulling the fishing line and lure down to an incremented  depth. Simply tighten up the line from the rod to the release clip and when the fish hits the line is pulled out of the release and is clear of the weight.

Other diving devices are also used to pull lines down to estimated depths and distances behind and out to the sides of the boat. Snap weights, Walker Deeper Divers and Tripz Divers used in conjunction with line counter trolling reels, gives us the opportunity to duplicate the depth after catching a fish at a particular setting.

As well you have lines that sink all on there own and depending on your trolling speed and the amount of line let out, you can control the depth your lure runs with some level of accuracy.

Running a combination of these tools gives us many options to test and apply creativity in presenting lures to the fish. When we find the right combination, your arms will hurt from reeling in all those fish.

For more in-depth technique talk, check out these links...

Openwater Salmon Basics

July Salmon

Walker Downriggers

Deeper Divers

Jet Divers

Leadcore Line


Walleye Pattern