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Saltwater Trolling Alternatives�
By Rich Johnson

While I may not be the biggest fan of trolling as a method of catching fish, it does have its advantages, misconceptions, stereotypes and alternatives within Joe Farry & RJ its own method of madness. Trolling is the technique in which we drag lures or bait behind a moving vessel, thus covering more ground and making the lures look more lifelike. Wire line trolling has the advantage of being able to cover ground and gets the plug down to where the fish are. Its stereotype is a long drawn out boat ride waiting for something to happen, the misconception is you can only do it in the ocean while it’s alternatives are trolling plugs on mono and doing it all in the back bays!

I have found trolling to be somewhat boring as we crisscross the ocean looking for fish to take metal, plastic or rubber and fighting fish on wire line is not all that exciting. Anything less than a huge fish does not have much chance against wire line and sharp hooks…maybe that’s why so many anglers like it…the odds are in your favor. Most of you may be familiar with wire line trolling and most probably troll bunker spoons or umbrella rigs as the major weapons in your arsenal. However, you can troll a variety of lures and you don't have to troll them at depths like 40 or more foot of water outside the inlet as you may be accustomed to.

In May of 2002 I visited New Jersey to film an episode of my television show with RJ & Capt. Al Ristorinoted outdoor writer Capt. Al Ristori of the NJ Star Ledger newspaper. Capt. Al Ristori has been the Ledger’s outdoor columnist for 18 years and is a well know expert in the trolling game. Joining me on the trip was Pradco’s northeast representative Joe Farry. There had been some large bunker schools of adult bunker in Raritan Bay the last few weeks of April and May and many were chunking or trolling bunker spoons for some decent fish. However I know that many of you may already know the virtues of trolling bunker spoons so I decided to film a show about trolling large plugs like 7 to 9-inch Bombers, Red Fins and Rebels. We used wire line in depths of 28-foot of water inside Raritan Bay with great success. This episode will probably air the first week or two of June.

EQUIPMENT. When it comes to trolling plugs, spoons or umbrella rigs I’m sold on the Seeker Rod Co. They make a fantastic glass trolling rod with my favorite models the BA330,  a 7-foot, one piece glass trolling rod. The other model is the BA 1153M which is softer up top and comes in 8 or 9-foot models. This 1153M is the ultimate bunker spoon rod with a soft action so you can see the thumping of the spoon through the rod tip and has the back bone to handle large fish taking spoons. The Seeker BA330 is the preferred choice for umbrella rigs and plugs and what we were using this trip. As for reels the workhorse is the Penn Senator 114H, 4/0 reel. This allows you to put enough backing on the reel and still get 50 to 100 yards or more of 40 or 50-pound stainless wire on the reel easily.

RIGGING. To the front end of the wire we use a haywire twist to a small barrel swivel and then tie a 15-foot stretch of 50 to 60-pound test mono as a leader. Then add a 150-pound snap swivel so you can attach� whatever it is you are trolling. You can uses an Albright knot from wire to mono if you prefer.

We trolled 7-inch, model B17A Magnum Long A Bombers with Chicken Scratch and Baby Striped Bass the two hot colors this trip with Red & White also catching quite a few fish. These are shallow running lures and work best on wire line. Remember, wire line is designed to get the lure down to the fish so you do not need a deep running bait here. You can use the Bomber 25A, which is a deep running plug and will run as deep as any other on the plug on the market. When running deep diver lures you can troll monofilament line and get the plugs 18 to 20 foot. Whether you use wire and shallow runners or mono and deep divers, it opens the door for you to experiment and catch fish on the troll…even in the back bays or the state boat channel.

The main channel or the edge of the channel is a great place to troll. You don’t have to worry about getting in or out of the inlet and you can fight some big fish in the comfort and safety of the calm water back bays. Some of the largest bass and bruising bluefish caught season are caught trolling the back bays and state boat channel using plugs, umbrella rigs, shad baits or squid! Each boat and engine combination is different and can vary as to the proper rpm’s that catch fish. Most of the time you can bet you’re trolling at the right speed somewhere between 900 and 1100 rpm’s.


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