By Capt. Cefus McRae, Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Series
This summer has definitely been a hot one, and the Dog Days are just beginning. By mid-morning, temperatures are hitting the 90 degree mark, the high humidity exacerbates things to the point that you’re wondering if you should have stayed cool in your favorite recliner watching Nuts & Bolts of Fishing episodes.
When the air temps rise and we have several days of sunny skies, the surface water temperature rises as well. Just like humans, fish don’t particularly care for the heat, especially when the water temperatures rise to near 90 degrees. Gamefish will go deeper to find the comfort of cooler water, and that’s where you need to be fishing.
You can use jigs, weighted plastics or downlined live baits to target fish hanging lower in the water column, and you’ll most likely catch fish. But that doesn’t help the fact that you’re standing in the sun and dripping with perspiration.
Here’s a solution to alleviate some of the stagnant heat of the summer: try trolling.
Whether you’re fishing for bass and stripers or on the coast for flounder or mackerel, trolling can be an extremely productive tactic.
Those deep-diving crankbaits can be trolled just as easily as they can be cast and retrieved. Simply troll over those same open-lake humps and points where you would normally stop and cast. Flukes and swimbaits can also be trolled deep with the addition of a trolling weight or large egg sinker rigged a few feet in front of the lure.
Umbrella rigs and casting umbrellas like the Project X X-Rig are super effective ways to catch deep-dwelling fish. You can vary the depth of the rig by varying the distance behind the boat and boat speed.
If you’re fishing nearshore in the salt, a diving plug like the Mann’s Stretch 15 or Stretch 30 will dig deep and usually catches larger fish than smaller live baits like pogies or pinfish. Trolled spoons like Clark Spoons and Drones come in a variety of sizes that will draw amazing strikes from Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita, dolphin and more. Match your spoon size to the bait in the area. To get them deeper, use a Scotty High Performance Downrigger, and with the built-in digital depth counter, you can put your lures exactly in the strike zone.
Trolling has a number of benefits. First and foremost, you can cover lots more water compared to drifting or stealth-trolling with an electric trolling motor. Secondly, when you get a strike, it’s usually a solid hook-up, because the boat sets the hook. And finally, you’re putting a breeze across your face. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how wonderful the breeze can feel, even trolling at 2 or 3 mph. No drippy brow, and no soaked shirt.
So leave your bow-mounted trolling motor stowed and crank the big motor to find fish. You’ll be in for a much cooler and potentially fishier day on the water.