Trolling For Trout by Damon Sherriff and Tony Morecroft
Trolling for trout is not a thing that I regularly do. I have done my fair share, but not so much recently. The highlight of my freshwater trolling career was when I won a fishing competition held at Lake Meadowbank in 1998/99. It was with an 8 kg Atlantic Salmon which took out heaviest salmon caught for the season.
I lost a little interest in trout trolling until I met the "Great Lake Guru", Tony Morecroft, of Sting Lures. He re-sparked my interest in trolling this season. In this article, I am hopefully going to disclose what makes Tony Morecroft a very successful lure troller in both Great and Arthurs lakes and also give you some tips of my own which may help you in my own favourite areas.
As you will see from the following advice on trolling in various areas, I am a big fan of deep diving lures - McGrath and Tilsan Deep Driver are my favourites.
Curries River Dam
Curries is probably not worth fishing at the present time because of the lack of fish but I won't got into that. When I used to live at George Town, I regularly fished Curries; most of the time I spun the shores until my dad lent me a 14 foot canoe which he never got back and then I managed to catch some really nice fish by trolling quietly around the shores by paddle power with McGrath Yellow Attractors, also green and brown. (Thanks Dad!) Most of the fish which took these lures were nice browns up to 2.2 kg. It is a deadly way to fish but you must have a lake with a reasonable average depth, somewhere around 5 metres. McGraths will dive to 3 metres and when fished on 6 lb braid they will then dive extra deep. Best area to try at Curries was down at the far end where it is deep. Areas such as the quarries and the dam wall were top spots for trolling McGraths.
Four Springs Reservoir
Four Springs is a top spot to target trophy fish. My two sons and I had some excellent success this season at this water, trolling Sting Cobras and Rapalas. My middle son, Jack, landed the largest fish so far this season, which was a rainbow which weighed 2.5 kg. This was taken on a Sting Cobra No 58 which is fluoro yellow/pink with blue dots and is red hot on rainbows, not only at Four Springs but all around the State. Other lures that have proven themselves this year are Sing Cobras No 30 and also No 27. Drift spinning with Ashleys is also a deadly way to catch fish. Ashleys No 28 and No 7 are lethal lures at the Springs. Slow trolling 7 cm Floating Rapalas is another good way to troll Four Springs, especially on rough days, in fact, this is when it fishes the best, the rougher the better. My favourite Rapala colour at Four Springs is Fire Tiger, but unfortunately, this colour has been discontinued. The next best colour is Rainbow Trout, followed by Brown Trout. The best areas to try are around submerged timber and also try the weed bed near the boat ramp. This is also a great spot to drift spin with Ashleys. Many large fish are taken out of this reservoir, fish up to 4.5 kg are trolled every season. I use the 4 kg Platil Strong when fishing Four Springs. It is very fine and casts well but has enough strength to stop a big fish. Time of the day is important too. Sunrise to 9 am is the best time to troll lures at the Springs. The end of the day is also productive. Make sure your trolling speed is not too fast. I troll Rapalas at 2 kph and Cobras at around 2.5 kph. A fish finder is also a great advantage as it allows you to find weed beds, snags and - most important of all - fish!
Meadow Bank Dam
Meadow Bank Dam is a scenic man-made lake in the Derwent River system. It is very long and thin with many deep areas and contains a good population of brown trout but what draws most anglers is the release of 200 Atlantic Salmon by local fish farm, Saltas, every season. I find the most effective method to catch Atlantics on lures is, once again, trolling McGrath Deep Divers. I caught the 8 kg Atlantic mentioned earlier on a pink and violet McGrath. I also lost another fish on a green and brown McGrath. For drift spinning in this area, I suggest Ashley No 14 green and gold and Sting Cobra No 8. The trout you may catch in Meadow Bank will have an average weight of 700 grams. Best time to target salmon in this dam is shortly after they are released, before numbers dwindle and the fish disperse into different areas. So, if you live in the north, like me, give Meadow Bank a go, the rewards can be great.
Trout Trolling Tips from Tony Morecroft
The first thing we need to look at is our tackle. You can set up with your standard flatline trolling setup. We would recommend a 5'6" rod with a good tip action. This will give you a good indication as to whether your lure is working correctly.
Next is a small to medium sized threadline reel loaded with high quality 3 kg line of no more than 0.18 mm diameter.
Next, the most important part, is your choice of lures. You need a lure that will go down to where the fish are. You can use a bibbed lure such as a Rapala etc, or if you prefer a Cobra style, you could use a Sting Cobra. By using a Cobra with a bit extra weight and also a good action, you can vary your depth, even while fishing flatline. For instance, if you are fishing a shallow part of the lake with a depth of 4.5 metres you can adjust the depth of your lure by the amount of line you let out. For this depth, we would recommend a good cast out of the back of the boat. This length will see your Sting Cobra running at about 2 metres. If you would like your lure to run a bit deeper, let out a bit more line, if you pick up a bit of weed on your lure, you will see straight away that you have no action on your rod. In lakes such as the Great Lake and Arthur's, you can let out up to 40 metres of line, this will take your lure down much deeper, down to where the fish are.
Without a doubt, a single hook is the most effective, with probably a 90 percent hookup rate, they leave treble hooks for dead when used in conjunction with Cobras.
Many boat anglers troll way too fast, the best speed is about 2 kph. It it known that a trout will follow a lure for quite some time - a slight change in the lure's action and this will induce the fish to strike. This may happen if you start to turn your boat or your speed happens to change a fraction with the wind - "Bang', you have a hit! Also, try stripping a metre or so of line off your reel every so often, this can also induce a strike.
If you are fishing in water deeper than 6 metres, then leadline is the way to go. In the morning and evening, the fish will be closer to the surface and therefore within reach of lures trolled flatline.
Last but not least, is the choice of colours that you wish to present to your quarry. It depends on the lake you are fishing, for instance Arthur's Lake trout prefer frog patters in shades of green and also black and gold. In the Great Lake, trout seem to prefer gold and red and also fluoro pinks and greens, particularly rainbow trout with the latter. Lake Burbury is a case for fluoro lures, particularly Sting No 58. Rainbow trout prefer bright flashy colours whereas brown trout seem to like the more subdued colours like green and brown.
We could write pages on the techniques of trolling, and perhaps we could look at this popular and rewarding method in future issues, and go into even more depth on the techniques, but for the time being, this article may be of some help in the hours that you may spend trolling for trout.
Tony Morecroft and Damon Sherriff.