Trolling and fall temperatures are a great combination for hungry fish
The weather is changing and the trout have moved into the marsh as they transition to their fall patterns. Kayak fishing is particularly suited for these times and areas. The temperature is moderate, the paddle times are short, and you can reach more areas with these shallow draft, stealthy vessels. Another plus is that there are numerous ways to target these hungry fish that are particularly advantageous in a kayak.
One method that is often overlooked by kayakers is trolling. While trolling with a pedal or trolling motor-powered kayak works best, it can still be employed while paddling. Use two rod and reel set-ups to ply different depths, colors, patterns, and lure types to help dial in where the fish are holding and what they want to eat. While not necessary, a depth finder helps identify contours, ledges, water temps and other factors that all come into play.
With one rod running out of each side of the kayak, use differing techniques to find what is working best for a particular day and location. One of the main reasons for trolling success is that once you figure out what is working best, your bait/lures will be consistently in the strike zone much more so than when casting and retrieving. With consistent line let-out and forward speed, the lure stays at your determined depth the whole time it is in the water rather than reaching that sweet spot for only a short time when retrieving a cast.
One of the simplest techniques is to fish a jighead and plastic tail combo bouncing along the bottom as you slowly troll.
Two keys to success are using light jigheads and setting out enough line to have the lure just barely tick the bottom as you move along. Wind, water depth, speed, line type and lure sizes are all factors that co-mingle to ensure just the right presentation.
Braid is best. With its small diameter, lack of stretch, and high level of sensitivity, using braid helps you to feel and see exactly what your lure is doing. The goal is to have the lure bounce along as you move. This imparts erratic action and makes artificial baits come alive.
I prefer to have my rods positioned in rod holders just forward of where I’m sitting. This allows me to see the rod tip as I troll along. If you try this and are paddling, this also keeps your hands free so you can paddle. When pedaling, I like to keep one rod in my hand and the other in a rod holder. By holding the rod, you can impart extra snaps and jerks that may just add the little extra action that may be needed.
When all factors are properly set, you are able to watch the subtle ticks as the lure bounces along. This is how you know that you have the right combination of kayak speed and line let-out. Also, it also easily indicates when the lure is fouled by grass or other debris it may pick up. If the line quits ticking, reel in and clear it off.
Tops for trolling
A big key to hooking more fish is reaction time when a strike occurs. Rather than immediately grabbing for the rod, use the paddle or pedals to impart a quick pedal or kayak stroke to lunge the kayak forward thereby better setting the hook simply with the added forward motion of the kayak. Then grab the rod and continue the fight. It takes a little getting used to, but this method greatly increases your chance of a solid hook-up.
There are also a variety of hard baits that work well for trolling. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and spoons are all effective when trolled. Suspending, floating, and shallow diving lipped baits all make great trolling lures. However, floating lipped baits are less prone to bottom snagging. As they are pulled along, they impart an erratic swimming action and depending on the rated swim depth, you can keep them swimming at your desired depth.
These lures have treble hooks, so you want to avoid having them hitting and snagging on the bottom. By using floating models, when you stop your forward progress (to fight a fish on the other line, etc.) the lure will rise to the surface and not sink and get hung up.
Pick an area to troll and then do so in a planned, methodical manner. By covering an area in a grid pattern, you can find productive spots and rule out the not so productive ones. This allows you to make repeated passes over areas that are producing fish. Up or down current, into the wind, cross wind or down wind, each of theses factors can affect your success.
Make a mental note of what is working best and repeat it as much as possible.