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several questions: downrigging, trolling, etc...

 
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RIDGE_RUNNER91
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Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 5
Location: SW OHIO

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:05 am    Post subject: several questions: downrigging, trolling, etc... Reply with quote

I'm pretty new here and, at this point in my life the only fish that I am really interested in catching is land locked stripers (both pure strain and hybrids). Don’t get me wrong I like just about anything that pulls on the other end of my line, but when I go fishing I am typically targeting stripers. I love casting for these beasts, but as you know sometimes that just isn't practical. A couple of years ago I purchased 2 cannon downriggers. I have used them several times, but I have never caught any fish on them. I think that I am doing something wrong. First off I think that my weight is to light, because when I troll the weight ends up way behind the boat. This is obviously an easy fix, but is it really that big of a deal? Also when trolling with any speed at all the cable “sings” and the faster I troll the louder it gets. This just doesn’t seem right. It is loud enough that it seems like it would actually scare fish away, and I have virtually zero confidence in them.

This leads to another question. I have always been told to fish above the thermocline. At my local lake that is typically easy enough to do without the downriggers as the dissolved oxygen falls off pretty quickly according to the Army Corps of Engineer charts. I have fished the lake for years, and I have caught some pretty decent fish (hybrids only in this lake). I can’t seem to do it with any degree of regularity though. Sure I catch my fair share of dinks, but I want the big ones! I have a fairly nice depth finder and while trolling around I always see fish (or what appears to be fish at least) below the thermocline. I was under the impression that this simply wasn’t possible. Could these be fish, or is my finder picking up something else? Even if these are fish, will they hit when they are suspended below the thermocline? If the charts are right I have marked fish in some water with virtually no dissolved oxygen. Would I be wasting my time fishing that low? What am I missing?

Also, I mostly fish with crankbaits of one kind or another. If I want to target bigger fish should I start fishing live bait more often, or buck tail jigs? What about planer boards and umbrella rigs? Should I troll with the big motor (and I use that term lightly) or the trolling motor? How fast should I troll? Should I be trolling at all? Would down lines with live bait be more effective?

Sorry for all of the rambling questions, but the more I wrote the more questions I thought about. lol

Thanks for any help,

Bill
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mwardncsu
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Joined: 25 Jan 2010
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Location: Mebane, NC

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RidgeRunner - 1st - welcome to the Soup.... lots of great info to learn here about catching stripers/hybrids no matter what waters you fish.

Now, before Chef says it, I'll cut him off at the pass and recommend you learn to use the Search function on the board as lots of info has been discussed before and good details lurk out there. Its not that folks are not happy to toss a topic about again, and I think its often good to do so since there are new folks coming on-board all the time that may have additional spice to add to the soup, but building from the base of info that is already here will at least cut off the "did you use the search" comments Cool

He may also move some or all of this post to other parts of the forum that are topic specific - don't be offended by that - it just makes it easier for folks to help by looking in those topic specific areas - and easier for folks in the future to find simialr info.

Spend some time in this section of the forum - http://seeinstripes.com/stripersoup/viewforum.php?f=181 and specifically look at this thread - http://seeinstripes.com/stripersoup/viewtopic.php?t=1934 - but also use search as often some good tidbits on specific techniques pop up in members trip reports, etc.

Now, to your questions - I can't help you a lot about the questions on the fish below the themocline - other than if you're marking fish there then I'd try to fish some in their range and see what happens Laughing

On the downriggers - I'm no expert here, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night (not really, actually in a Marriott), but I am in the process of getting a couple of downriggers for my own boat and have fished with a buddy that uses them alot, espicially this time of year and I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the topic - we'll see once I put it to more practical application if anything below is useful.....

Ideally you want the ball hanging basically straight down - if for no other reason than you can better know what depth you are presenting your bait - if its way back then you'll have to do some guestimating. What speed are you typically trolling with the downriggers? A heavvier ball will obviously let you troll faster with less blowback. Cannon's downrigger manuals have charts with blowback curves for various ball weights. (check out page 12 in this manual http://www.cannondownriggers.com/uploadedFiles/Service/Product_Manuals/Unitroll%205%20and%2010%20manual%20eng.pdf).

This looks like the same info:


There are also some books you can buy that give lots of info on trolling curves for various lures that are out there -

As to the noise made by the downrigger cable - don't know if it scares away the fish, but you can replace the cable with a very heavy braid and it will cut most of it out - see the post I referenced above as there is a specific braid referenced in there.

Now - with respect to what to drag in the water..... most folks where I fish (Smith Mountain Lake, VA) that use downriggers pull things like bucktails, sassy-shads, money minnows, Sutton spoons, etc.

I don't think pulling live bait at typical downrigger trolling speeds (2.5-3 mph) would be very productive as you'd probably drown your bait in short order. If you want to try live bait, then drop the trolling motor and break out the planar boards (we're not talking about those huge double-board monsters they use up at the great lakes - rather smaller ones like Shawn makes (http://seeinstripes.com/stripersoup/viewtopic.php?t=2315). You can free line bait behind them, use some weight to get the bait down in the water column, etc - depending on the time of year and where the fish are holding. However, with these you're going to be pulling MUCH slower - between 0.5 & 1 mph typically.

Umbrella rigs are also a good choice for various times of the year- you can pull them without the downriggers if you need to be in the upper part of the water column (say 15-30 ft) and if you want to take them deep then hook them up to the downrigger and plunge away - we have WAY to many trees where I fish to go deeper than about 20' with U-rigs, but I know there are guys on here that do use U-rigs with down-riggers in certain impoundments. Just keep in mind that the U-rig will run deeper than the downrigger due to all the weight of the U-rig.

Good luck with it - its all a learning process and there is a lot that folks on here can help you in the pursuit....

(Oh, and don't forget to go over to the Introduce Yourself category... http://seeinstripes.com/stripersoup/viewforum.php?f=19 - it will save you some more browbeating Wink )
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mwardncsu
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You also asked:
Quote:
Should I troll with the big motor (and I use that term lightly) or the trolling motor? How fast should I troll? Should I be trolling at all? Would down lines with live bait be more effective?


I am a big fan of live bait, as I think most of the folks on here are - its the most natural presentation as its what the stripers actually eat on a day to day basis. Can they be tricked into an artificial based on a reaction bite or a really sexy looking lure - yes (although I think us fisherfolks can be more easily tricked into "biting" on those sexy looking lures when at the tackle shop Laughing).

However, I also think there is a time & place for all sorts of techniques - depends on the season, the waters your fishing, your access to, ability to catch & maintain good quality bait, and your own personal mood & preference. And live bait can be hard work - but its also pretty rewarding to catch some nice striper on bait that you netted.

Trolling lets you cover a lot more water in search of fish than you will with live bait using downlines or pulling live-bait on planars. One technique also does not preclude the other - pull articficials - downriggers, u-rigs, etc as a "search" technique, and then when you locate a good school of fish, switch to live bait... or, if you're livebaiting keep a casting rod handy with a bucktail, or fluke / swimbait on a lead head jig to keep things interesting.

So - the net/net - learn the waters you fish and what works there - the techniques used for fish on a river system with cool water year-round may not be the best for what works on a larger impoundment where the water heats up or a significant thermocline develops with lower DO, etc. However, I think borrowing/adapting some of these techniques is interesting and you can also find "similar" bodies of water to yours and find out from the Soup what works there and it is likely to be a good option where you are....
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RIDGE_RUNNER91
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Joined: 12 Aug 2010
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Location: SW OHIO

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the help.............. I will certianly start doing some digging in the archives. I will be looking into some of the non singing cable!
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ecox
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Joined: 06 Jan 2006
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Location: Tazewell, Tennessee

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:22 pm    Post subject: The short cut Reply with quote

Very Happy That mwardncsu has answered most of your questions and gave great advice. The fastest and easiest short cut is to find and hire a guide that is good at the way you want to fish. The bottom line is you are not going to learn all the answers to all the questions on the first trip out with a professional guide. Go with as many as you can that is good at downrigging and take notes. If you want to fish live bait hire some of the best guides that is willing to share all the information on bait holes, keeping bait, and presenting the bait to the stripers. One of my favorite statements is "you have to fish where big fish are at to catch a big fish". Most fishermen on the Soup are conservationists and will not kill a big fish or tell anyone how or where to catch one that will kill it. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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SeeinStripes
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:58 pm    Post subject: Can dos? Reply with quote

Goddang mward, I ain't sure how many Cans to hand out for that outburst. All I can figure is you had some extra time on your hands! Awesome follow-up. I think 2 Cans!
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Shawn McNew
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HANKPMT
What a MONSTER


Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 281
Location: Bartletts Ferry,Ga.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Goddang mward, I ain't sure how many Cans to hand out for that outburst. All I can figure is you had some extra time on your hands!
Laughing Laughing

Excellant mward Exclamation Exclamation
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mwardncsu
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Shawn - happy to contribute back - its been an area that I've been looking at recently - and yep, I am on the left-coast and woke up earlier than I wanted so I had a little extra time today before my meetings started....

Oh, and RidgeRunner - I 2nd what Ezzel said about going out with a guide to learn the techniques for the waters - a good guide who will not only put you on fish but also is willing to teach is worth every penny of his guide fee plus a healthy tip. Sometimes it hard to come up with the cash, espicially if you're making your own boat payments, and such - but I figure its all a part of the deal....
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Shamrock
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Joined: 18 Oct 2006
Posts: 172
Location: Knoxville TN

PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ridge Runner you are on the right track. Use all the sources savable to you. I would add join a good striper fishing club. The one thing that there is no substitute for is time on the water.

This was the advice given to me by Bill Ballou:

90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the fisherman
Biggest reason they are on the water all the time.
Keep a log
Time of day and year
weather
waypoint
water temp
# of fish caught
size of bait
How fish caught
boards
free lines
down lines
floats
u-rigs
For us mortals we need to write it down EZELL keeps it above the eyebrows.
We bow to the king.
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Duayne
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Joined: 16 Aug 2010
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Location: Louiville, Lake Cumberland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, solving the sway back problem with bigger DR balls may not be a simple fix. It really depends on the size of your riggers, the size of your boat and how secure the riggers are mounted. Check out Cabelas pancake weights if your rigger setup can't handle more weight as they cut the water better than the standard balls. Depth can cause sway just like speed. A ball set at 60' will swing back further than a ball at 30'. I rarely rig over 2.5 mph and if I do, I am moving from one spot to another or I'm in and area I don't care to fish. Faster does cover more water, but no speed is going to allow you to cover every inch of a lake so be smart where you fish and you won't need to cover as much water. If you get too much sway, slow down.

The sing of the wire is nothing compared to the sound of even a four stroke and the prop in the water. This is why I put my baits at least 100' behind the boat and work in an "S" pattern.

One of the most useful tools for down rigging is a GPS with a built in topo map. First and foremost, for speed. Next, most striper fishermen key on structure, but this is the case 100% of the time when I down rig. Some of my most productive spots are underwater creek mouths where they meet the old river channel. These spots are bait magnets and bait magnets are striper magnets. They also make great places to down line live bait as well, but the point is, don't just turn on your motor, drop your lines and head in a direction.
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24' Bennington Pontoon 4 strk
30 gal "modified" grayline bait tank
Scotty Propack 30" downriggers
16 Scotty quickdraw rod holders
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mwardncsu
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good info Duayne..... I fully agree with fishing the structure and giving your trolled lures some interest by varying speed / direction....

I must say, looking at your signature, espicially this part "16 Scotty quickdraw rod holders" - you and I would get along great Smile I am planning to add one more set - but you'd still have me beat by 2 Cool
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Duayne
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Joined: 16 Aug 2010
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Location: Louiville, Lake Cumberland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had a lot of people wonder if those Scotty holders would, "hold". I had reservations myself when I first started mounting them.

All my reservations were released on a day when a 10 pounder hit a free line off the back going full speed more like a hybrid than a striper. The rod tip went under water with the speed of the force as the ugly stick rod handle broke right where it entered the holder. We landed the fish, the ugly stick went back for replacement and the rod holder was just fine. Smile
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16 Scotty quickdraw rod holders
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RIDGE_RUNNER91
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the pointers guys........... some great info for sure. I am certainly not set up as nice as the boat in the picture above, but I'm working toward that. Wink I do have a GPS capable finder with the lake maps on it, and it has helped me find alot of great spots. Having the lake maps is a huge asset. If I catch a fish I can mark a way point and troll right on top of that spot over and over again with pretty astonishing accuracy.

I have seen the flat weights and thought that they might help with the blow back. I'll have to give them a try.

Thanks again guys
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Duayne
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Location: Louiville, Lake Cumberland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a hell of a boat ain't it.. Very Happy I'd go that route if I could bottom fish off it. If I had a rig like that, it wouldn't be within 10 ft of the shore even on Cumberland. Well, there's the money thing too.. ;(
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16 Scotty quickdraw rod holders
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