True Confessions of a Troller

I like trolling. I don’t prefer it higher than plug casting, or fly fishing, or plastic-worm fishing, or jigging, or live-bait fishing, however I prefer it a complete lot higher than not fishing in any respect, and a number of the happiest, laziest, most pleasant hours I’ve ever spent on a river or lake or pond or ocean have been spent trolling. A few of the individuals I fish with flip furious with horror once I say I like trolling. Some look grim, activate their heels, and stalk away. Some stare in disbelief. Some cluck sympathetically and shake their heads. Some retch. Solely as soon as in a blue-dun moon will one in all them go searching furtively to verify we’re alone, and say, “So do I.”

June 1980 cover of Field & Stream
For the June 1980 cowl, the editors have been clearly extra obsessed with baiting stripers (!) and turkey suggestions (!) than trout and spin-casting reels. Area & Stream

It’s true, after all, that trolling is far much less demanding of ability than most different kinds of sport fishing. In saltwater, when a feather or skipping bait or no matter is being trolled, the fish is often hooked with out the angler having even touched the deal with, though there’s some ability concerned in taking part in and boating or releasing the fish. However quite a lot of my trolling is completed in freshwater, for one of many following causes: (A) It’s too windy for fly casting; (B) I don’t know the place the fish are, and trolling, which covers quite a lot of floor, or water, is a sooner technique of finding them than casting; (C) I wish to get to a reasonably distant spot, and determine I would as properly troll whereas getting there; (D) I’m greater than usually slothful; (E) I’m alone, in a rowboat or canoe, and wish the train; (F) It’s the best method of fishing that exact piece of water.

I suppose 90 % of the walleyes I’ve caught have been caught by trolling. Most of them got here from the Delaware River earlier than the massive dams went in, and trolling a Junebug spinner with lamprey-eel larva on the only hook, preserving it as near the underside as potential, was the tactic that just about all the time paid off. (“For those who don’t get hung up on backside each couple of minutes,” my guide-and-mentor Gollup Kuhn assured me, “you ain’t fishing deep sufficient.”) I used an previous beat-up fly rod for this trolling, as a result of I appreciated taking part in the walleyes on it, and though it didn’t do the rod any considerable good, it was enjoyable. If the water was too quick or too excessive, I’d grasp a sinker or two forward of the spinner and troll with a casting rod. In any other case there wasn’t any passable option to get a lure down the place the walleyes have been, though I generally managed to extract just a few with a deep-diving River Runt plug.

An early outside author referred to angling as “the contemplative man’s recreation,” however there’s not a lot alternative for meditation once you’re fishing quick, heavy water in waders, attempting to maintain your footing on treacherous boulders, probing the water forward along with your wading employees, watching your fly or your line for indicators of a taking fish and, sometimes, taking part in a trout to web or hand. However contemplation comes simply once you’re paddling a canoe on a Maine pond along with your fly rod laid slanting again towards the strict the place you’ll be able to seize it fast and a Warden’s Fear or Supervisor streamer trailing 60 ft behind you, or once you’re trolling a musky plug alongside the sting of a Wisconsin lake weed mattress. (There was a time, way back, once I was positive that for trolling, a ship rowed or paddled by hand was preferable to 1 propelled by an outboard motor. I might have given you half-a-dozen commonsense the reason why this needed to be true. Then I started to maintain cautious information of motor-versus-manpower, on all my journeys for landlocked salmon, walleyed pike, and early-season lake trout, and was astonished to search out that over a interval of about 5 years, when it comes to fish caught per hour of fishing time, the outboard motor outproduced paddling or rowing by almost two to 1. I don’t know why this was—and nearly actually nonetheless is—so, however the figures left no room for doubt.)

(Nonetheless, for first-rate catch-as-catch-can contemplation, a hand-paddled canoe, a light-weight rowboat, or, better of all, a type of most marvelous of crafts, the handmade Adirondack information boat can’t be matched by any motor-powered boat.)

I’ve discovered that for those who’re attempting to get a teen thinking about fishing, trolling could also be one of the simplest ways to show him on. Children discover it troublesome to remain in a single place, and trolling means transferring about. Shifting about means you’re extra more likely to discover fish, and even for those who don’t, the surroundings modifications often sufficient to match a toddler’s consideration span. After the little so-and-so will get hooked on hooking and taking part in fish, you’ll be able to present her or him that casting a fly or lure provides to the enjoyable.

I feel pace’s an important facet of trolling, however don’t know any magic components for figuring out what pace’s greatest underneath a given set of situations. There are days (often, however not all the time, darkish) when solely a lure that’s barely transferring will take fish, and days when you’ll be able to hardly troll the identical lure, in the identical water, too quick. By and huge I’d relatively err on the speedy facet, giving the fish much less alternative to check the state of affairs (however typically, trolling pace is decided by the motion of the lure or the depth at which you want to current it).

Hold It Easy

There’s a specialised sort of trolling for Atlantic salmon, practiced broadly in European rivers, known as harling. Normally it’s finished with the angler sitting within the stern going through aft whereas the gillie rows upstream at about the identical pace as the present; the rod is often a heavy two-handed 16- or 18-footer, with a spoon or Devon minnow because the lure, and the angler merely holds the rod in place whereas the gillie maneuvers the boat to place the lure over good holding water, generally letting it stay in a single spot for a minute or two, which can tease a salmon into taking, or transferring it slowly throughout the river from financial institution to financial institution. (“Harl” is a Center English phrase that means “to pull.”) In Norway, and on the decrease Tweed in Scotland, I’ve harled during times of excessive, unwadeable water, utilizing a pretty big salmon fly as a lure, and though the tactic is reputed to take larger-than-average salmon, it by no means did for me. Most likely harling was devised with a purpose to give anglers unable to solid very properly or very far an opportunity to cowl quite a lot of water with nearly no effort or ability.

One fly within the troller’s ointment is the tendency of quite a lot of lures to begin spinning—even a streamer fly could accomplish that if the wing will get caught within the bend of the hook—with the consequence that the road and chief get badly twisted. A swivel or two could assist, however one of the simplest ways to stop a twisted line is a keel-type gadget, of plastic or steel, a foot or so forward of the lure with a swivel between them. To get the twist out of the road, take away the lure and troll the road at a reasonably excessive pace for 3 minutes.

As far as I do know, no person has ever written a guide on trolling, in all probability as a result of it’s so easy there’s not a lot to say about it. Ultimately, in all probability, some day somebody will determine a option to make trolling as difficult as different strategies of angling, and there’ll be books stuffed with diagrams and charts exhibiting the correct rod angles, computerized optimum speeds for numerous forms of lures at numerous barometric pressures, digital devices, and so forth.

Acid Journey

Since our article (July 1979) on acid rain, quite a lot of consideration has centered on this horrifying downside. Scientific American and different scholarly journals have revealed articles on the topic, and there have been a number of regional conferences. A global convention on acid rain was held in Toronto final November. The New York Instances and different main newspapers have revealed articles on the phenomenon and its menace not solely to fish and wildlife however to forests, agriculture, and the entire environmental advanced. Senator Patrick Moynihan of New York launched a invoice within the Senate to arrange a fee to research potential cures, citing the FIELD & STREAM article as proof of the emergency.

Within the meantime, due to the vitality disaster it’s seemingly there’ll be a loosening of restrictions on highsulfur fuels and using low-grade coal in industrial and power-generating vegetation, which might end in increased concentrations of the acidforming pollution within the ambiance and a worsening of the issue. Nobody has really proposed scrapping the U.S. Environmental Safety Company or its Clear Air Act, however within the authorities’s panicky efforts to deal with an vitality scarcity it might occur.

The unhappy reality is that even when current Clear Air Act stipulations have been to be totally met, acid-rain pollution can’t be lowered, a lot much less eradicated, for not less than twenty years. And if and when “scrubbers” are put in to take away sulfate pollution from emissions from coal- or oil-burning vegetation, the issue of disposing of tons of of tens of millions of tons of toxic sludge stays to be solved.

I want I might consider a cheerful be aware on which to finish this piece, however the very best I can do is counsel that for those who plan to go fishing, don’t wait too lengthy.

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