With Winter now upon us it’s pike time of the year again, and one of the best ways of catching big pike is trolling deadbaits. Tomi Kurman is one of the top angling guides in Ireland, specializing in big ferox trout and pike on Lough Corrib where he has a remarkable record of putting guests on fish. So we asked Tomi to give his advice on trolling, so over to Tomi…
What are the best times of the year for trolling deadbaits for pike?
Without doubt it is winter. In warmer months from April onwards- just after spawning throughout summer and early Autumn, there is not many situations on the water when dead bait can outfish rightly presented lure. In early winter, when the water temperature goes down to about 10 degrees, and lower, pike in general start to move towards, deeper water to the areas where bream, roach and hybrids starts to form huge shoals to spend the coldest time in the year over mostly flat, soft bottom, mostly at depths of 30 to 45ft. In those spots pike are not really concentrated close to each other, so casting lures, until we will cast close enough to the pike can take too much time. Slow trolling over chosen areas with fresh deadbait, can tempt the biggest and laziest pike.
What weather conditions would you think are ideal?
Ideal conditions for effective fishing will not necessarily match ideal feeding conditions. Although the connection of those two factors can make our day unforgettable. Two or three days of stable mid range pressure, light west or south west winds and foggy or covered skies are my favourite conditions for November and December. For January I feel more confident on calm sunny day. Bright sunshine in the coldest time in of the year increase activity of prey fish and tempts pike to feed more actively.
Another important thing is that in those conditions trolling is technically easier, as we can move our boat at stable and and chosen speed.
What features or areas of a lake should we be looking for the best trolling?
I’m choosing soft bottomed flats close to the drop offs, or open water islands, but any area of the lake where we know that holds shoals of prey fish would be the right choice. Another type of “hot spot” are deep, sheltered bays where bottom is covered with rotten leafs and last years water weeds. Those places are always good for roach and bream, and where there is food there will always be a pike or two….
What is the best speed for trolling?
That depends from fish activity and our knowledge about a chosen area. If we have to cover big expanses of water and fish are feeding well, we can move our boat as fast as 3.5 or even 4 km/h, but in most cases this speed would be little too much, especially when pike are not too active and only attacking baits, which moves slow, right to their jaws. Sometimes really slow speeds work best to the level described as “as slow as you can”. Practically that means about 2-2.5 km/h. Another point is to use the wind when fishing from a drifting boat, especially when the wind directions matches our chosen way and direction of covering the fishing area.
What kind of rods, mainline and tackle should we be using?
Firstly rods must be strong enough to hold large bait and float with a sinker if we choose float trolling. 2.5 to 3.5lb rods or cw. up to about 150- 250g in different money should be perfect. I found 10-11 ft rods the best compromise between spreading the baits from each other and handy manuvering from the boat. Reel type is a matter of choice, some anglers prefer multipliers and some use fixed spools baitrunners. Also mainline is a matter of choice. We can use braid or mono/ copolymer line, because we dont’t really need as little stretch factor which is a must for lure fishing. Breaking strain of around 50lb seems to be the safest choice. I’m not using up traces for trolling, but I’m putting a lot of attention into my wire trace. Whether it is titanium, steel or fluorocarbon we need to be sure it has no weak points. All our snaps split rings and swivels must be in perfect quality and conditions.
How do you set up the rods for trolling on the boat?
I’m using four different techniques for trolling so all the set ups are different:
Float trolling. Perfect method for slow speeds (up to 2.5km/h):
I use 3-6 oz float and matching sinker. float is fixed on the line by straw or plastic pin, which can be easily removed when fish is on. The Float then slides down to the sinker. I use 2 ft of trace and deadbait is attached to 2 trebles. Size of the hook depends from size of bait, but usually it’s size 2 or 1. It’s important to mount your deadbait, with head towards the rod. Then it creates less resistance and whole set up is less tended to be pushed towards the surface while trolling. I’m fixing my float at the distance greater than the water depth. If I want to fish close to the bottom, it is full depth + 30% for 5 oz float, 40% for 4 oz, 50 % for 3oz and so on. That appears to the 2.5km/h speed and 45lb breaking strain braided line. (speed and line diameter makes all difference) The idea of it is that while trolling, the resistance of water on the line and bait, is not letting it go straight to the bottom.
I normally fish one rod according to this rule and other is set more or less as the depth of water so bait can penetrate higher in the water column.
-Trolling with deadbait mounts:
deadbait is attached to the system (type is personal preference) and trace is attached by a swivel to 5-6ft of 50lb fluorocarbon. All this is connected to the main line by another swivel and snap link, where I can clip additional sinker if I want my bait to go deeper.
– Trolling with paravanes/ side boards:
I’m using two of the above set ups, but depth of bait is regulated by the distance of fixed paravane. This method is great when two anglers are using two rods each, as it lets spread the baits well out from the boat.
– Trolling with downrigger:
Here the set up is very simple, as in most cases I use very same set up as for lure fishing. A 2 ft trace is connected by a swivel to the main line. The Deadbait is mounted in the same way as for float trolling or with trolling mount. Main line is clipped to the snap of downrigger ball, or separate snap just above. Distance between the ball and bait varies from 15 to even 30 ft, depends from the conditions.
Thanks Tomi, we will be keen to try out these methods and hope to see you on Corrib soon
No problem lads talk soon