Don’t throw away tired, dead or bitten bait. Don’t throw back in with other bait. Throw them onto the transom well. Chum Chum Chum when you get the shoppers.
Cut Bait Fishing
A fishing technique we need to know more about is ‘cut bait fishing’ (sections or filets of bait fish). Some of the biggest Stripers ever recorded were taken on cut bait fished on a bottom rig. This method is similar to live bait fishing except that the boat is positioned over a likely spot and moored with a bow and stern anchors. The second anchor keeps the boat from swinging and tangling the fishing lines. Dead baits, such as Gizzard Shad or Blueback Herring are hooked to lines and cast around the boat. Baits are fished on the bottom while others are suspended at various depths. When available, live bait is used in conjunction with the dead bait. The bait can be cut into various shapes or slashed to give off more scent. Larger baits can be cut in half to make two baits. The head section will be used on one line while the tail section is hooked to another. Fresh dead bait will attract more fish than frozen bait. Another idea is to use scissors and cut the tail section off a live bait. Drop it to the bottom and let it flutter around. It’s a sure fire technique if someone is home. If not the bait will die in 10 minutes anyway. At this point you are still cut baiting. Some of the best cut baiting is done from spring through late summer. Position your boat on a hump or flat near deep water. Use both anchors to hold you still. Start by chumming a couple dozen baits in to small fingernail sized pieces. Make sure you drop some directly under the boat. Also, you want to throw some out where your lines will be. I like to use a whiffle ball bat with the top cut off. Fill the body of the bat with your chum and sling it out there. Cast your lines in a 360 degree radius around the boat. Position your rods like the clock. Try to fish about 12 rods. People will fish as many as 30 rods doing this, keeping some right under the boat and casting others as far as they can. The tackle setup is fairly easy. Slide a 2 oz. egg sinker on your main line. Tie a barrel swivel and possibly a bead to keep it from your hook. Tie a leader from the swivel to your hook. The leader should only be 1-3′ long. Shorter is better. Another method is to tie on a slide or fish finder rig. Even a ready rig works well. Just clip it on above your swivel and clip on the appropriate sinker. Do not tie a down line weight directly to your line. When the fish picks up the bait he will feel the weight.
Use weighted and unweighted Directional Bobbers. They will fill in the gap between the last planer board and a Freeline.
When fishing in deeper water with fish throughout the water column stagger your baits to determine what depth the fish are most active. For example on Lake Lanier in the summer time the thermocline might be at 30ft and your marking fish from 40 to 80. Place your rods at 40, 50, 60, & 70 feet. Having the large spread along with longer 8ft leaders allows you cover as much water vertically as possible. The deeper you are fishing the more you can tighten down your drag as you have plenty of stretch available in your main line. Tightening down your drag is especially helpful when fishing near timber, just remember to back it off a bit when the fish gets close to the boat. When fishing 12 to 25 ft below the boat you want a looser drag as your don’t have as much stretch available. Always place your baits above the fish your are marking, stripers suspended in the water column look and feed up. If your marking fish and you’re not getting bit, drop down the bait 15/20ft below the fish and quickly reel your baits up though the fish, this will often trigger a bite or just start the big motor and leave it idling. When a striper hits put trolling motor on rabbit and go in opposite direction. If striper makes it to the trees open your bail and let him come out when he is ready. Sometimes banging on the bottom of the boat with 2×4 or broom handle will “call” the fish to the boat, striper are curious by nature and will come to investigate. You may even want to put Ben Parker spoon in rod holder so when boats go by moves spoon up and down. When fishing in shallower water, I keep the rod closest to me on the bottom, bouncing along, pulling it up quickly if I see a tree or other obstruction. Often only that bait that is right on the bottom is the one getting bit.
Taking up the slack when a striper is coming towards you.
Flatline / Freeline
A Flatline is also referred to as a Freeline. This is when you hook a bait and let the line out behind the boat. There is no weight added. The idea is to have the bait on or near the surface. The strikes will be seen as well as heard most times. The variations of this are to add a small split shot (above the swivel) to allow your bait to swim deeper. Another way is to add a float to keep your bait on a short leash. This will ensure your bait is near the surface. This is very effective when trolling over brush piles etc. There is a flat line on the rear right side of the boat at 10′. This is the Prop wash bait or Transom bait. The flat line on the rear left is 40′. The float down the middle is the longest line, about 75′. Notice that you are covering a lot of water. See Charts for weight chart.
- Something Else fly
- Sz 2 Clouser minnow
- Gummy minnow
- Fluoro fiber
- Intermediate sinking
- Sinking line 1′ per 2 sec
- 8-9 wt rod with a large capacity reel
- WF9ST fly line with an 8-9′ leader
- 15′ lb test for sinking 3′ length or fluorocarbon line
- Spring and fall months are prime time
- 100 yards of Lead Core line has 10 colors.
- Line sizes come in 12, 15, 18, 27, 36 and 45 # test.
- Each color released in the water will sink approximately 3 feet at 2.5 mph.
- Do put some backing on your reel before loading it up with Lead Core line.
- 20 to 50′ of 20# Fluorocarbon leader should be used (rule: leader should be lighter than Lead Core).
- Lures used: 1-3 oz Bucktails with curly tail or paddle tail trailers.
- Trolling at idle speed (2.5 to 3 Mph)
- Do not stop the boat when reeling in a fish unless someone clears the other lines out.
- Do not attempt to fish over trees. It would be better if you troll the river channel .
- Use your mapping software on GPS and follow contours carefully.
- Create way points and use them to create a trolling pattern.
- Fishing into the wind will slow your boat which will make your line runner deeper. The opposite happens when fishing with the wind. Your boat slows.
Pitching Blueback Herring
Use clear bubble with spin cast rod. Lob 9 o’clock to 3 then let out line – wait one minute. Do again. -OR- pitch herring against the bank or reef poles using Bluebacks hooked chin through the head on 8lb test with hook on a loop knot.
They look more complicated then they are. Planer Boards are a great tool. They move your bait away from the boat at a distance that you control. It enables you to fish many more lines without getting tangles. It also is extremely productive when the fish are spooked of the boat. You can run a planer board into 2 feet of water while your boat stays in deeper water. You simply let out a determined amount of line and attach the planer board with a clothes pin styled clip that’s attached to the board. When the fish strikes the board is released. I use the glass bead so my board slides down my line and stops at the bead. Some people prefer not to clip their line directly to the back clips, allowing the board to fall off the line completely. I have lost too many boards doing this. The only time I would recommend doing this if you are the only boat in the area. You will need to have plenty of boards to replace the boards with every bite you get. Or like I say, you can attach it to your line and reuse the same board repeatedly. Notice the planers on the outside have about 10′ of line after the planer board. This is designed to pull shallow water in either direction. The middle boards will be maybe 20′ and the ones closest to the boat will be the longest. The outside boards maybe 50′ away from the boat. This is giving you a 100′ wide area to fish. You are covering different depths as well. Change it around to you are comfortable with it. Add split shot to the middle planer board leaders.
Using a 2oz bucktail jig add a 7″ paddle tail and cast out as far as you can; then count down 5 or 10 as it sinks; then reel in moderately. Or use this set up to power reel.
- Find 30-50’ humps. Have Downlines ready at different depths.
- Use 18” leader with braid using a 2oz bucktail jig tipped with 8-10” chartreuse paddle tail or just herring. Make only one attempt then move – OR – using a Ben Parker Spoon cast out horizontal, let fall back under boat. Already have Downlines in the water at different depths.
- Another way is to drop spoon to bottom, power reel up to surface quickly. Also bring up in stages then allow to flutter down. You can try bringing up the spoon very fast but stopping at 10-15’ for a moment then continue up another 10-15’. Striper may take the bait on the rise, when it stops, when it starts again or on the fall – OR – power reel on clear bottom in 100’ of water or right into trees.
- Power reel Ben Parker Spoon – drop to bottom bring up 10’ stop then 10’ more stop et al; over trees and in trees.
- War Eagle Spoon – natural shad or blue herring. Can use with a trailer (Fluke). Work all the way from bank forward. Allow to flutter down. Get bites on the fall using 8 to 10lb line.
Throw Blueback Herring behind top water lure cranked by partner. Red Fins, any Spook, Super Spook – drag only, shiny Spook – sunny days before lunch. Bombers when it’s dark before daybreak or after sunset on points and reef poles. Replace treble hooks on Red Fins with 1/0 treble hooks. Retrieve should be as fast as possible still keeping the Red Fin on top of the water. Use #4 treble hooks on Sebille Magic Swimmer size 140 in Ghost Pearl color. Retrieve should be rip-rip-sit. Other popular lures are Chug Bug, Sammy and large stick baits such as Cisco Kid. Remember fish no deeper than 15-20 ft will come up for top baits.
Use minimum 120lb swivel snaps, 80lb braid or heavier lb monofilament and no leader. First use side imaging and down imaging on humps and points to locate fish. Maintain a trolling speed of 2.50 to 3.50 – change the speed from time-to-time to learn what the fish are looking for. You can use the same speed schedule whether you are in clear or stained water. If no luck vary speed, distance from boat, moving pattern, colors and jig size. Jig size needs to be uniform but types of jigs can vary. Also colors can be uniform or rainbow. Try horse head jigs or fish head spins. Trailers can be cut in half or spiked with scent. Use of paddle tails creates more vibration and sound whether normal size or crappie size. Depth of Umbrella Rig is determined by total weight of jigs and arm vs. speed of boat. Colors of jigs can be pink if the water is stained; otherwise use chartreuse with chartreuse trailer, or white with chartreuse trailer, or white with white trailer. If you are marking fish and they do not bite keep going over the same fish over and over; zigzag or speed up; increase the distance from boat; stop momentarily then speed up. Numerous trolling patterns exist. Try the “S” pattern and the figure eight patterns. Both of these patterns when used properly will allow the trolling depth of your lures to change. As an example, when turning to port, the rig on that side will drop in the water column while it is moving but its speed is a bit slower. As the Captain turns back to starboard, the rig on the port side will rise and experience a slight increase in speed. This is the “S” method and should be used in wider creeks or open water where the fish are suspended and on the move. The figure eight method is an extension of the “S” pattern and will allow your rigs to change trolling speed as well as depth. Again, the use of the Umbrella Rig results in a “reaction” strike; therefore, changing speeds and small changes to trolling depths can make a significant difference. Both the “S” pattern and the figure eight pattern are effective throughout the year. In the fall and spring Stripers may be found on points and humps. Trolling umbrella rigs over points or on the sides of points is very tedious therefore you should have a good understanding of the depth of your rigs. This holds true for trolling over humps as well. Also, take advantage of your mapping software to orient your trolling pattern to certain contour lines. One of the features of the Navionics software is to highlight shallow water on Lanier with shades of blue – light blue can be related to water with a depth of less than 30 feet and dark blue can indicate more shallow water. Water temperature and depth control represent two major considerations fishing fresh water. Depth control when trolling Umbrella Rigs is extremely important. Throughout the year Stripers are known to live in small shallow pockets, on lake points and humps, and in open water. Maintaining proper trolling depths and making the proper rig presentation will result in success!