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how to catch lots of trout using light tackle ultra-light tackle fishing techniques

(or: dang it anyway, how can you even tell if you have a fish on with all those weights and flashers)
by Jim Bradley

 I know most of you believe you need the big lake troll flashers on the end of your line to catch trout because I see you every weekend with your big steelhead or salmon rods dragging those car parts (i.e. Ford Fenders:) around!  "Fender" men can be seen from a 1/4 mile away- blades flashing in the sun. None of that big hardware is needed. I have never seen the point of having such a big rod and huge hardware pulling so hard on the line as you troll and then catching an 8" trout that you have to reel in before you know you have it on the line.  

We have been using microlight poles and 4lb. test for 3 years now with increasingly better results as time goes by and we learn new tricks. We use a pea size split shot or two, 3-5ft above a Needlfish, or  "Excel" lure (only at Wal-Mart), or Triple Teaser,  or if everthing else fails- a hook with a third of a worm or Power Bait on it- no flashers at all!  We do prefer to find a lure that works rather than resort to the mess and hassle of using worms or that sticky stuff!

These tactics described will catch stocked trout like crazy and work best in the spring- April, May, June (this is when the water is cool and most of the fish are stocked during this time) and we have used them in all of the following lakes. Detroit, Timothy, Clear, North Fork Res., Devils Lake, Haag Lake, Siltcoos, ,Green Peter, Foster, Kingsley, Lost, Ochoco, Walton, Lava, Lemelo, Mercer.  

Usually we troll very fast (when using lures) compared to other boats we pass on the lakes. We do make lots of turns and change speeds often if the fish are finicky. In the spring when the water is still cold we always troll right next to the shoreline - right through the big rocks and stumps. That's where the fish are! Those people  trolling fenders always avoid these areas-I guess because snags are very expensive and I suppose that it's not very practical with some larger boats to risk hitting something. While we can catch fish out in the middle where the fender men fish-we know that we catch 2-5 times as many near the submerged cover.

  Many large lakes (like Detroit) have vast areas which are relatively non-productive. It makes no sense to stay in an area where there are no fish. So keep moving until you find them.  If you troll a shoreline you will pass fishy areas and non-fishy areas- spend more of your time in the fishy areas! When you catch one or two, keep going for a short while and if nothing happens- TURN AROUND and go back to where you caught the fish. Go back and forth through the section where you caught them- usually you'll hook up with a few more.


 Our favorite places to find fish are usually shallow areas with some kind of cover. Shallow can mean anywhere from 3ft. to about 15ft. Areas with stumps or rocks will attract us like a magnet. Points jutting out along a shore are nearly always good. Wind blowing along or against a shoreline seems to concentrate trout in the small indentations or coves along the shore. Be sure to troll into all of them to find the fish. An area with fish jumping is also good and other boats catching fish is a good clue. Don't troll past them to another non-fishy area- troll around them - they've already found the fish for you!

  We troll along at a pretty good clip with the Needlefish, Excels, Triple Teasers, and flies.  If you place your lure next to the boat before you let it down and watch it as you slowly increase your speed, you'll see that the trolling "spoon" types actually get an extremely erratic action at a speed just above slow idle - maintain this speed and let your line out! This high idle speed not only imparts the best action on the lure- it also allows you to cover water very quickly. This is very important if you're on a new lake and not sure where the fish are.  

The key to using these trolling spoons is to find the color or type the fish will hit. We probably have at least 10 different colors or variations of each type in our boxes. When you know you are in an area where there are lots of fish but they are not hitting your lure- change it! We start with silver or brass and then run through our boxes with every combination of colors until we find what they want. This means 5 minutes with a lure- no fish- change it- 5 minutes - no fish- change it. We of course have several favorites and we'll try those first- after that we'll throw anything and everything out there until they start hitting. When you find the right lure it is easy to catch a fish every 5 or 10 minutes all day long.

After a couple hours if we have no luck we will resort to bait if we have to. We use the same setup- one or two splitshots and a hook with a third of a worm on it- nothing else. Some days that's all they want is a little food!

  You might be thinking- I catch my limit all the time the way I fish now- why should I get rid of my lake troll flashers?  Well here's some numbers to blow your mind. At Detroit last year(2000), the week the season opened we (two of us) fished 5 days and caught and released 584 trout! This year was far better- we had 3 days in a row where we caught over 200 each day. 760 for the five days. We had at least 2 days at Timothy (in May) of 100 or more. We had a one hundred fish day at Devil's Lake in April. Last spring at Walton and Ochoco we caught over 50 in each lake. At Lemelo (north of Diamond) over the 4th this year we had 2 days with over 50. At Haag we've had 3 days with 20-40 and on Aug.18th,2001 we caught 72 trout with only a worm on a hook.

One more thing- trout hit these lures HARD! They will flatten out a little microlight pole and make your reel sing! You'll actually know you have a fish on. I highly recommend you get rid of your flashers!

E-mail me if you have questions or want to meet at the lake and catch a bunch of fish!  

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jim Bradley -for sending us this great report. 

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