On the Troll

Fishermen have more questions than a three-year-old-throw a fish on the dock and everyone wants to know where, when, and how. Respond by saying, "I was slow trolling," and the result is often strange looks and more questions. But the technique's effectiveness makes it worth learning.

The basic idea revolves around trolling at a speed that allows a live bait to swim rather than be pulled. Many boats can't idle down to a speed this slow; in this case, drag a bucket or bump the boat in and out of gear. This allows you to maintain control while hovering over temperature breaks and structure.

One important trick is to hook the baitfish through both upper and lower jaws. This will keep it from drowning, something open-mouth baits are wont to do. And since the bait swims through the water, use hooks in proportion to the bait size. Small weights ( ½ to 2 ounces) can be used to keep baits down, but troll these closer to the boat to prevent tangling.

This method takes a little more work than trolling artificial or rigged baits. But if a livewell is at your disposal and you want to be the one answering questions-not asking them-back at the dock, catch some live baits and give slow trolling a try.