The true stories of a troller


I like trolling. I do not like better than plugging, or fly fishing, or plastic worm fishing, or live bait fishing, but I like it much better than not fishing at all, and some of the happiest. The laziest, most enjoyable hours I have ever spent on a river, lake, pond, or ocean were spent walking the sidewalk. Some of the people I fish with feel terrified when I say I like trolling. Some look gloomy, turn on their heels and walk away. Some look with disbelief. Some knock compassionately and shake their heads. Disa retch. Only once on a blue-blue moon will one of them secretly look around to make sure we are alone and say, “So am I.”

June 1980 cover of Field & Stream
For the June 1980 cover, the editors were clearly more enthusiastic about bait strips (!) And turkey tips (!) Than about trout and spill coils. Field & Stream

It is true, of course, that trolling is much less demanding of skill than most other types of sport fishing. In saltwater, when trolling a feather or bait that is crossed or whatever, the fish is often caught without even the fisherman touching the vehicle, although there are some skills involved in playing and boating or releasing the fish. But much of my trolling is done in fresh water, for one of the following reasons: (A) It’s too smelly for flies; (B) I do not know where the fish are, and trolling, which covers a lot of land or water, is a faster means of finding them than throwing; (C) I want to go to a fairly remote place and realize that I can crawl while I go there; (D) I am more than normally lazy; (E) I’m alone, in a rowboat or canoe, and I need training; (F) It is the most productive way to fish that particular piece of water.

I think 90 percent of the walls I caught were caught by trolling. Most of them came from the Delaware River before large dams were inserted and the shaking of an eel larva spinner on the single hook, keeping it as close to the bottom as possible, was the method that almost always worked. . (“If you do not hang from the bottom every two minutes,” my guide and mentor Gollup Kuhn assured me, “you are not fishing deep enough.”) I used an old fly rod for this trolling because I loved playing with walls. over it, and though it did no good to the rod, it was amusing. If the water was going to be too fast or too high, I would hang one or two sinks in front of the spinner and do them with a spout. Otherwise, there was no satisfying way to get a lure where the walls were, though I sometimes managed to pull some out with a deep diving River Runt plug.

An early outdoor writer referred to fishing as “contemplative human amusement”, but there is not much opportunity for meditation when fishing fast, with heavy water in the water, trying to keep your feet on treacherous rocks, probing the water ahead with your jump. staff, watching your fly or your line for signs of a fish taking and, occasionally, playing a trout in the net or in the hand. But contemplation comes easily when you are driving a canoe in a pond in Maine with the fly rod extending sloping towards the edge where you can quickly catch it and a Warden’s Worry transmitter or Supervisor crawling 60 feet behind you, or trolling a musky outlet along the edge of a Wisconsin Lake weed bed. (There was a time, a long time ago, when I was sure that for trolling, a rowing boat was preferable to one that moved from an outboard engine. Then I started keeping careful notes of motor power versus manpower , on all my cruises without cruising salmon, roasted with walls and lake trout of the early season, and I was surprised to find that over a period of about five years, in terms of fish caught per hour at the time of fishing, the outboard engine outperformed or nearly two-by-one. I do not know why it was – and almost certainly still is – so, but the figures left no room for doubt.)

(However, for first-class catch contemplation, a hand-rowing canoe, an easy-going boat or, best of all, one of those most wonderful crafts, the handmade Adirondack guide boat does not can be compared to any motor boat.)

I found that if you are trying to make a teenager interested in fishing, trolling may be the best way to turn it on. Kids find it hard to stay in one place and trolling means moving. Movement means you are more likely to find fish, and even if you do not find it, the landscape changes so often that it matches a child’s attention span. Once the little one is hooked up and playing with the fish, you can tell him or her that throwing a fly or lure adds to the fun.

I think speed is the most important aspect of trolling, but I do not know any magic formula for determining what speed is best in a given set of conditions. There are days (usually, but not always, dark) when only a barely moving lure will catch fish and days when you can hardly shake the same lure, in the same water, very quickly. In general, I prefer to err on the quick side, giving the fish less opportunity to study the situation (but often, the trolling speed is determined by the action of the lure or the depth at which you want to present it).

Take it with a smile

There is a specialized type of trolling for Atlantic salmon, widely practiced in European rivers, called harling. Usually this is done with the fisherman sitting on the back facing backwards, while the needle is lined upstream at the same speed as the stream; the rod is usually a 16 or 18 foot heavy two-handed, with a spoon or Devon Minnow as the lure, and the fisherman simply holds the rod in its position while the needle maneuvers the boat to place the lure on the water it holds well. sometimes leaving it to stand in one place for a minute or two, which can irritate a taken salmon, or by moving it slowly across the river from shore to shore. (“Harl” is a Middle English word meaning “to crawl.”) In Norway and the Lower Tweed in Scotland, I was raped during periods of high, impenetrable water using a fly big enough salmon as lure, and although the method is reputable for getting salmon bigger than average, it never did for me. Perhaps harling was created to give fishermen incapable of throwing too well or too far a chance to cover too much water with almost no effort or skill.

A fly in a cart is the tendency of many temptations to start spinning — even a slippery fly can do this if the arm is caught in the hook turn — with the result that the line and the steering wheel twist badly. One or two swivels can help, but the best way to prevent a twisted line is a sheath-type tool, made of plastic or metal, one foot or more before the lure with a swivel between them. To remove the turn from the line, remove the lure and cross the line at a fairly high speed for 3 minutes.

As far as I know, no one has ever written a book on trolling, probably because it is so simple that there is not much to say about it. Eventually, surely, one day someone will find a way to make trolling as complicated as other angle shooting methods, and there will be books full of diagrams and tables showing the right rod angles, optimal speeds computerized for different types of seductions in different barometrics. pressures, electronic devices, etc.

Acid ride

Since our article (July 1979) on acid rain, much attention has been focused on this terrifying problem. American scientist and other scientific journals have published articles on the subject and there have been several regional conferences. An international conference on acid rain was held in Toronto last November. New York Times and other major newspapers have published articles on the phenomenon and its threat not only to fish and wildlife, but to forests, agriculture and the entire environmental complex. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan introduced a bill in the Senate to set up a commission to investigate possible solutions, citing the FIELD & STREAM article as evidence of emergency.

Meanwhile, due to the energy crisis, there is likely to be a easing of restrictions on high-sulfur fuels and the use of low-quality coal in industrial and generating power plants, which would result in higher concentrations of pollutants. acid-forming in the atmosphere and aggravation of the problem. No one has actually proposed the removal of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or its Clean Air Act, but in the government’s panic efforts to cope with an energy shortage this could happen.

The sad fact is that even if the current provisions of the Return Air Act were to be fully met, acid rain pollutants could not be reduced, much less eliminated, for at least twenty years. And if and when “cleaners” are installed to remove sulfate contaminants from emissions from coal or oil combustion plants, the problem of disposing of hundreds of millions of tons of toxic sludge remains to be solved.

I wish I could think of a cheerful note on which to close this section, but the best I can do is suggest that if you plan to go fishing, do not wait too long.





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