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Written By: Ken Mathis, March 13, 2012
After fishing many years on the Crystal Basin Lakes, Ice House, Union Valley, Loon lake, and many of the surrounding lakes in El Dorado Co., Ken at Ken's Custom Tackle is offering these trolling tips that have been proven to produce fish.
Trolling is an easy and successful way to catch trout. First you must select the way you are going to troll, be it down rigging or top lining, with flashers and lure, or just a lure, such as Ken's Double Flutter trolling lure. Ken prefers flashers, trailed by our trolling worm harness, tipped with half of a crawler or one of our trolling flutter spoons. Dodgers are another good choice for an attractant. Dodgers work well with any of our Trolling Hairy bugs or with Apex lures for kokanee.
Trolling flasher selection is critical. It is going to be made according to conditions, such as water clarity and weather conditions. Select flashers according to weather conditions. On clear to partly cloudy days, use gold and silver blade combinations. Overcast days or low light conditions such as early evening, use polished copper blades. Down rigging requires maximum flash and vibration. Use large blades, such as our #1 willow leaf or our #7 polished copper blades.
Lure selection is made by preference or by what the fish may be feeding on. We find that our trolling worm harnesses or trolling a flutter spoon works extremely well, but in slow conditions a worm added to the flutter spoon, enhances the number of strikes. Ken also has good success using Pro Cure's bait scents applied to the worm or flutter spoon. Ken uses minnow patterns and occasionally when the fish are feeding on rising water, around stumps, he trails a black or green woolly worm fly behind the flashers.
The basic flasher setup is as follows: Attach flasher to main line with snap swivel to rudder. From the end of the flasher attach a 12 to 24 inch piece of 8 or 10 pound leader to a barrel swivel and attach your lure of preference to the end of the leader.
For top lining, let flasher trail beside boat and check for action of blades and lure. Adjust speed of boat for maximum flasher and lure performance; the tip of the rod should pulsate with correct flasher action.
Remember to troll slowly. Big fish do not like to exert themselves more than necessary while feeding. Start releasing line until flasher setup is approximately 75 to 200 feet behind the boat. We find more fish strike from approximatley 150 to 200 feet behind the boat. Flashers in this range are generally running at approx. 8to 25 feet deep, depending on the size of flasher and lure. The larger the flasher generally the deeper it will run in the water.
Trolling in gentle s-curves, lures on the inside of curve the rig will slow and sink, lures on outside will speed up and rise, triggering fish to strike. Fish are not likely to strike if a lure runs at a constant speed. Ken finds that occasionally an increase or decrease in speed also helps trigger strikes.
When down rigging, troll in old river channels or next to drop-offs. Ken finds it best to down rig next to steep banks in 40 to 60 feet of water, but also works into deep channels and around bottom structure, which often holds fish.
In late spring, the larger lakes will separate into 3 temperature layers, with the middle layer being the thermocline, which is generally the most productive temperature zone. You should troll close to or in this layer, which is generally from 15 to 50 feet deep. Some of the best areas to troll are around inlet or outlet streams, rocky banks, and steep drop-offs. In windy conditions, troll close to shore where food is being blown, fish generally will hold in 8 to 25 feet, close to the food source.
Remember these are only suggestions based on Ken's experience and years of fishing. Every trip is different and everyone has a different way of fishing. These are tips that work best for us. The rest is up to you. Just have fun!!
Ken's Favorites For….
Kokanee If using flashers, our No. 13 Kokanee Special medium curved blades, our No. 14 micro curved blades or our new No. 17 micro willow blades, trailed by one of our worm harnesses in Rocket Red, Watermelon or any of our new Pro Glow UV Worm Harnesses, tipped with white corn that has been dyed and soaked in scent oil.
If using a dodger, our Blue Prism or Crush Glow dodger trailed by one of our trolling Hairy Bugs in Hot Pink, or one of our other New Colors such as our new Pro Glow UV Pink or Red Hairy Bugs, tipped with white corn. (see corn tips below) Also add scent oil to the whiskers of the hairy bug to increase scent. Tie the hairy bugs 12-18 inches behind the dodgers. Troll speed should be 1 to 1.5 mph.
Another one of Ken's favorites is using our Blue Prism dodger with a custom tied UV Apex, trailing approx. 30 inches behind the dodger. This works extremely well late season, in deep water when kokanee are getting ready to spawn. The dodger and Apex combo has maximum action and vibration which causes the fish to strike.
Down rigging for kokanee is done by using our ball flashers No. 6 or No. 7 attached to down rigger weight. Attach our micro flasher No. 14 or No. 11 or No. 17 trailed by any of our Pro Glow UV worm harnesses, tipped with white corn soaked in scent oil, to your fishing line. Now clip your line into a stacker clip about 3 feet. above down rigger weight, with enough line out so that the micro flasher assembly is approx. 3 to 6 feet. behind the flashers that are on the weight.
When top lining for kokanee use our curved flasher #12 trailed by our worm harness in Rocket Red, Hot Pink or Candy Cane, Red Shiner, Lemon Lime or Pearly Pink Glow tipped with a crawler or white corn soaked in scent oil.
Kokanee Corn Tips
Use white shoe peg corn. Leave it in the can with juice and add 1/2 to 1 tsp. Pro cure's Wizard Kokanee Killer Korn Dye. Let soak 30 minutes. Drain off all juice. Transfer to storage container and add 1/2 to 1 oz. of your favorite scent oil, either Pro Cure's Anise, Fresh water shrimp, Predator liquid or Kokanee Special. Ken's favorites are Carp Spit, Garlic/Anise combo, Kokanee Special, Krill or Freshwater Shrimp.
Although not designed for corn, Pro Cures Wizard Egg Cure in Hot Lava Orange does a great job coloring corn. Use 1 can white shoe peg corn. Leave in can with juice and add 4 teaspoon of the egg cure and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain liquid and transfer to storage container and add scent oil. Ken's favorite Pro Cure scents are Freshwater Shrimp, Predator liquid, Anise and Kokanee Special. Add 1/2 to 1 oz. per can of corn. Try different scents for max results.
Sometimes just plain white corn, scented with scented with your favorite oil will work when these other dyed corns don't. Keep track of what works best for you at each lake. In some lakes the kokes will like one scent or color better than another.
Half of a mini night crawler also works well. Some of Ken's new favorites for kokanee are Berkley Power Maggots in pink or chartreuse. These work extremely well when corn won't work or corn is not allowed to be used.
Rainbow Trout Our flashers No.1, No. 2, No. 12, No. 8 or No. 16, trailed with our Fire Tiger, Green Glo or Rainbow or Bumble Bee worm harness or trolling flutter spoon, with half a night crawler.
Brown Trout Our flashers No. 1, No. 2, No. 8 or No. 16, trailed by our Rainbow or Fire Tiger Double Flutter Lure or a Rainbow, Fire Tiger, Bumble Bee or our new Halloween worm harness. Our Double Flutter Lure in Fire Tiger or Rainbow can also be trolled by itself for Browns. Troll speed should be 1 to 2 mph.
Mackinaw Any of our Double Flutter lures trolled by itself or tied approximately. 18 inches behind our No. 1 flashers. Our No. 1 flasher trailed by our worm harnesses in Rainbow, Fire Tiger, Green Glo, and our Bumble Bee tipped with a minnow or large crawler also works well.
Ken's favorite way is to run any of our Double Flutter Lures, that has been coated with Pro Cure's Herring or Krill Gel Scent, 200 feet behind the downrigger ball. Then run the ball down so that you are working under the schools of kokanee or baitfish. If they are holding in 60 feet of water, run the downrigger and Double Flutter Lure down at 70 to 80 feet, or split the depth of the bottom to bottom of the bait fish. Macks and browns feed near these schools and this works best for Ken.
If no baitfish can be found work 10 to 20 feet off the bottom around heavy structure. Another tip for mackinaw is using a 8 to10 inch dodger trailed by a frozen herring tied approximately. 1 to 3 dodger lengths back is a deadly combo for macks.
When down rigging, Ken has these basic set-ups and techniques. In water that is bright and clear down to 60 feet, gold and silver flashers are a good choice. 60 feet and below, our polished copper No. 7, No. 1 or No. 8 flashers work best. Copper throws the farthest flash in the least amount of light. Also when working murky water use copper flashers.
Ken finds it best to let flashers and lures trail 100 to150 feet. behind the boat then attach it to downrigger release and send it to the desired depth which should be 15 to 20 feet above bottom. By doing this the flasher and lure trail beneath the ball by 8 to 15 feet. This increases strikes and results in less spooked fish.
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