Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cowboy Wisdom -- Canoe Trolling For Trout

I'm not a very patient fellow, so still fishing from shore with a worm and bobber just isn't my style.  I prefer to paddle a canoe, and to see the scenery and wildlife on any given lake or stream. 

I've also learned that I'll catch more fish if I cover more water, so trolling is my favorite way to fish.

Unless you are on big, open, windy water a canoe has a distinct advantage over boats with motors and float-tubes.  The slow surge and glide of a paddled canoe is quiet and gives your trolled bait an action very close to that of a swimming bait fish.

A canoe can also cover a lot more water than a float-tube.

Finding Fish

Over the years I've learned a few basics about finding fish on a new lake. 

1. Locate the bait that fish eat.  I always fish a shore that the prevailing wind is pushing bait toward.

2. Find protective structure fish hide in.  Look for logs, rocks and undercut banks.  One sure bet is to fish old stream beds -- I always locate stream inlets and outlets, and fish a zigzag pattern between them.

3. Find water that is oxygenated -- locate feeder creeks, and especially springs.  Often springs will be located at the bottom of rocky cliffs that abut the water you're fishing.

What To Troll

In the early spring and late fall I tend to fish pretty close to the surface.  During those times of the year I use a light spinning rod with a spoon or crankbait.

Or, a medium action, 6 wt weight fly rod with streamers.

For my favorite streamers see:

My favorite spinning rod baits include Original Rapalas, Needlefish and Mepps Dressed Aglia Spinners.

In the warmer summer weather -- or if I'm not having any luck surface fishing -- I switch to a stiffer Kencor trolling rod with leadcore line and flashers.

For my leadcore trolling method see:

Final Thoughts

No matter which trolling method you choose… ALWAYS turn around and fish the same water over again whenever you catch a fish.  I caught these two trout -- a laker and a hybrid cutthroat -- five minutes apart within a 50 foot square area of water on the Snake River.

I've seen lots of photos of "tricked out" fishing canoes, but I like to keep it simple.  Everything I need to go out on the lake -- including my 33 pound Old Town pack canoe can be carried on my back to the water's edge.

Since the photo above was taken I ditched the wood frame backrest for a lighter canvas model. 

Finally, always tie everything down or at the very least keep it on a leash.  You will eventually capsize any canoe. 

Happy fishing.

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