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Hot Weather is Trolling Time

Hot Weather is Trolling Time Hot Weather is Trolling Time
By Bill Vanderford

Whenever the weather is this hot and the fishing becomes tougher than normal, my mind always drifts back to a simpler time and the lessons I learned from a dear departed fishing buddy. His name was Jack Moriarty, and he perfected trolling as the best method for catching plenty of hot weather bass at Lake Lanier.

Though Jack passed away from a bout with cancer more than a decade ago, I still vividly remember the smallish, dark-haired Irishman with an ever-present smile. During the week, he was a tough businessman, but on weekends, he would don his old fishing clothes, pull out his little, white, aluminum boat, and become one of the nicest and most successful fisherman on the lake.

Despite his successes, Jack’s trolling rigs had been developed from many hours of "trial and error", and were rather crude by today’s standards. He utilized a magnum Hellbender deep-diving crankbait as a diving plane to reach the proper depth, which was certainly effective, but not as accurate as a downrigger or the use of leadcore line.

The ideal trolling depth during hot weather at Lake Lanier is 15 to 35 feet, but the exact depth is always decided by where fish are seen on a quality graph recorder like the Lowrance X-85. The best method for reaching this perfect level that lies between the hot surface water and the top of the colder thermocline is by using leadcore line that can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops and a one-ounce Blakemore Road Runner bucktail jig. Still, a bit of "trial and error" is in order to ascertain exactly how deep the lure will go at the trolling speed of each boat. The best way to discover this depth for your particular boat is to drop a buoy marker at the exact level that you wish to troll on an underwater point of land that is quite barren. Since all leadcore line is color-coded, while trolling, let out colored sections of line until your lure visibly bumps the top of the ridge or point at the desired depth. Then, it is just a matter of letting out enough colors of the leadcore line to reach that magic depth while trolling.

Though extremely simple, this method is always tremendously successful for catching black bass and stripers during the hottest time of the year. Even if the fish decide to go deeper as the summer heat rises, one can repeat the process to put the lure at the proper depth, and continue catching fish until the fall turnover begins during September.

Probably the most accurate way to put a lure at the proper depth is by using a downrigger. This device must be mounted on the boat and consists of a large reel that is filled to capacity with nylon-coated wire. A heavy, painted, lead ball is attached to the end of the wire by a clip near the top of the ball, and another clip with a line-release is attached to an eye on the side of the ball. Also, the reel portion of the downrigger contains a counter that allows the user to see exactly how many feet of wire are being released from the spool. Therefore, one can easily put a lure at the precise depth desired, provided the choice of lure is not too heavy or doesn’t incorporate a diving bill that adds to the depth.

One only has to let out as much line as deemed necessary behind the boat, clip the line into the line-release mechanism, let the ball down to the depth desired depth, and troll. When a fish hits the lure, the line is pulled loose from the downrigger, and the angler only has to fight the fish.

As long as the thermocline stays intact at the 20 to 40 foot level during the summer months, trolling near long points or underwater ridges can be quite productive. The areas below Browns Bridge are normally best, but big striped bass can be caught throughout the lake while trolling.

Find out more about Bill Vanderford on his website, or drop him an email at [email protected]

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