Trolling for bass by Pat Haughton

Pat Haughton

A buddy and occasional fisher, Sam Gaunt, once told me that his ‘luck’ when trolling a lure increased with the amount of line he let off his reel. I reflected that even though the Hobie Mirage Sport glides through the water with great stealth it will still be raising the alert and cautious instinct of the fish beneath. Fish, even predatory fish like bass, do not survive long in the food chain by not reacting to their instincts. The bigger the fish the cannier they become……

At distance it looks calm but up close you are in a washing machine of turbulence!

So what is the optimum length of line you need to pay out to troll most effectively? This has to be found by trial and error and will vary with the conditions. In wild, turbulent seas i.e. the race between the Needles off the Isle of White, you can fish effectively only 20m behind the boat. The fish feel safe in the turbulence. They are hunting the bait fish as they are funnelled through the gap. You don’t really want a lot of line out in treacherous waters like this as you risk getting snagged and if/when you hook a fish you don’t really want to be playing it at distance.

A typical trolled bass on a bright but not very calm day.

However, if you are trolling along the shoreline in relatively shallow water less than 4m the bass will be spooked and a much longer pay out of line is needed. Generally I will fish at least 60m away. Bright conditions It is often the case that bass are caught in the shore margins or shallow water at night, or at dawn and dusk. In the middle of the day, with bright conditions, they seek deeper water where they will chill out from their feeding or occasionally take up attack positions often behind an obstruction/reef. If you are equipped with a echo sounder and navigator you can target these marks and even on the brightest and calmest of day you will catch big bass. On calm, bright days you need to be fishing at least 100m behind your kayak to maximise your chances. At this distance you must be using braid to keep in good contact with your lure. The braid line will spook the weary big bass so you must also use a 15lb florocarbon trace. You will also need a rod with a moderate to fast action to set the hook at this distance. I have lost too many big fish using light rods with this long distance trolling method so I now use a powerful 9 foot Savagegear predator rod.

What lures to troll? The trouble with fishing is you tend to use the lures that work for you and not to experiment too much once you have found a winner! There is so much choice in the market. In the past I would swear by the Delta Scalliwag or Westender lures. I would cut their heads off and add difference weight lead heads to fish over different depths of water. Very shallow water and you need to be fishing as little as 5grams. If you are fishing over a deep reef I will fish a 65 grams lead head. Delta Scalliwags and Westenders are brilliant but over the last 3 years I have been converted to the Savagegear sandeels as I find that they come in a full range of sizes to suit the range of depths. The advantage of a softbait over a traditional plug is that the fish will often first hit or nip the bait and you can feel this using braid even at 100m as you are holding the rod. At that point if you sweep the rod back behind you to let the lure fall and it will invariably induce a take. With my new Hobie kayak with it’s Hook fishfinder and chart plotter I am able to target these deeper reefs marks with deadly accuracy. Fishing the 65 gram Savager gear lure 100m behind the boat using braid to keep in tight contact and 15lb florocarbon trace I can now catch big bass even on the brightest of days. How lucky we are to have all of this fantastic technology to play with….

Best bass this year of 8+lbs


How to clean and store your Hobie Kayak

Kris’ “How to videos.”  how to clean and store your Hobie Mirage Drive Fishing Kayak