The Art of Inshore Trolling
Trolling is a great way to fish. Although it is not quite as easy as it seems. Wind, current, speed, depth and direction all play significant roles in successfully trolling up New Jersey gamefish. The most effective lures for inshore trolling are umbrella rigs and diving plugs.
Attach a 50 to 100-pound tested snap-swivel to a conventional 30 reel and 30 pound rod with at least 300 yards of 30lb monofilament. Using mono is important because you will need the line to stretch to keep pressure on the fish after it is hooked. From the snap-swivel attach a 4 to 8 ounce trolling sinker followed by a 6 to 10 foot 50lb test mono leader with another snap-swivel at the end. This is where you may clip on an umbrella rig with 4, 6, 8 or 10 arms, or a large sized diving plug. Sometimes you may choose to attach another 3-foot wire leader behind the umbrella rig with the plug on it.
Select the area you intend to troll, a good trolling pattern is to criss-cross deep inshore channels. Optimally your lure should stay at about 15 feet deep. As a general guide, let out 150 feet of line for every 4 miles per hour you are moving. Using a GPS with an aerial view is a great way to track your speed and pattern. Also a depth finder marking bait or fish along the channel is also invaluable. It is probably not a good idea to troll more than 2 lines at a time. More than two increases your chances for fish and for tangles that can put you out of business.
When turning the boat to come back around, gradually turn the boat no more than 22 degrees at a time, being sure that the boat and lines straighten out before attempting the next 22-degree turn. If the boat turns too fast, the lures will lose pressure and sink to the bottom, where they are bound to be fouled with seaweed and other debris. Once your lines are set out, pay close attention to your electronics, making sure your depth is more than 15 feet at all times. Also be ready to mark your position on the GPS when a fish hits your line, this will give you a reference point for your next pass.
The drag on your reels should be just tight enough to pull the lures with the boat, with the clicker on, this way should your lures get fouled up with debris in mid-water, you will know it so it can be reeled in and corrected. Nothing is worse than trolling around for a half an hour while your lures have grass tangled in them the whole time. When the fish start to hit let the reel pay out the line it needs for a few seconds before grabbing the pole. Do not slow down the boat until after the other line is reeled in and the fisherman is fighting the fish. Slow the boat down to 3mph until the fish is next to the boat, then stop the boat and land the fish. With umbrella rigs, many times you will land more than one fish at a time.
Don't be afraid to reel in the lines and do a quick turn to set yourself up for another pass. Typically gamefish that hit trolling baits are schooled up and on the move, so optimize your trolling time by doing your best to track the school. Other boats may be trolling in the area also, so keep your eye on their activity as well, such as speed, direction and position.