Trolling! Trolling! Trolling!

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 4, 2010

item is on sale for only a short time.

"Make up your mind now, because I've got other fish to fry!"

Some fish decline, but fishing is a numbers game. I figure you do better in the long run by seeking out and contacting as many willing buyers as possible than by trying to argue away the sales resistance of a determined few.

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Because trolling helps locate fish, it's my first tactic when approaching a new lake. Instead of just riding around, watching my depthfinder to figure out what the lake bottom looks like and where fish may be concentrated. I'll motor a few hundred yards from the launch ramp and run out a few lures. Usually I'll snake in toward and away from the shoreline while keeping an eye on the depth. If I don't catch anything, I'll run the sides of an underwater point or make wide figure-eights in the mouth of a creek arm.

When I contact a fish, I'll mark the spot by noting the depth and a distinguishing shore landmark or I'll throw out a marker buoy. I can then troll back over the spot or sneak up and fish the area with another technique.

I'm not alone in relying on trolling to find fish. A popular bass fishing magazine revealed that many professional bass anglers troll to locate fish before a tournament. The same issue suggested that trolling is probably the easiest way for beginners to catch fish.

Perhaps because the pros aren't allowed to use the technique during tournaments, you don't hear much about trolling for bass. My best bass catches, however, have come from pulling crankbaits in front of the docks at Lake of the Ozarks. I will troll long stretches of shoreline without a strike, and then I'll come to a small section where the bass go gaga over my lures. Usually, these fish don't show up on the depthfinder. If I hadn't been trolling, I wouldn't have found them.

Unspecified targets

Trolling works for more than bass. When trolling for walleye on Stockton, for example, I'll also catch white bass, crappie, catfish and largemouth. On Truman Reservoir, I've caught seven different species in a day of trolling.

You can aim for certain species by adjusting bait sizes, depths and places you fish. However, keep in mind that most fish are opportunists. You may experience some disappointments when, for example, an orangish carp materializes behind the boat when you

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