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Trolling Tactics

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I bought my FishHawk last year. Its changed my trolling tactics quite a bit. Sometimes I wonder if for the better. Looking through my FishHawk booklet it shows best feeding temps for certain species. I fish Cayuga lake so lake trout are a big part of my program but Browns, rainbow and LL's are always welcome. So as you can see Browns, rainbows and LL's have a lower limit of 44. So ill make that 44 degrees hit bottom and Ill stack lines up from there and adjust from there depending on if I see any patterns on the finder from there. Anyone care to share any of your tactics? Im interested mainly in what temps you look for and what species your targeting. Whats going through your head when you hit the lake? What are you looking for?     

Via FishHawk Instruction manual.
Species- Lower Limit Optimum Upper Limit
Brown Trout 44 52 75
Chinook Salmon 40 44 60
Coho Salmon 44 54 60
Crappie 60 70 75
Kokanee 52
Lake Trout 40 42 55
Largemouth Bass 50 70 80
Atlantic Salmon 45 50 60
Rainbow Trout 44 54 63
Smallmouth Bass 50 65 73
Steelhead 42 45 62
Walleye 50 67 76
Alewife 48 54 72
Cisco 53
Emerald Shiner 61
Gizzard Shad 69
Rainbow Smelt 43 50 57
Spottail Shiner 54


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Maybe temps arent as important on the fingerlakes?  I know that if I find to warm of temps where im at i just moving out a little further into deeper water (a stones throw away) but on Ontario you might have toi move out a few miles because there isnt extreme drop off like cayuga.  ?? Thinking out loud here....

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In the Finger LakesThe temps become more and more important as the lake sets up the thermocline (starting about now this year). In the winter and spring specific water column temps aren't as crucial as it is for DIFFERENCES in temp....finding the temp break near shore where the water is starting to warm and finding a "color line" in the water or in the case of power plant discharges or other potental "warmer" temps (which still may be outside of your temperature chart information). We have all encountered fish outside their optimum preferred temperature RANGE so the chart is a general guideline at best. Probably the most profitable thing is to look for bait "congregations" regardless of temp or depth and exploit it by trolling through and around it back and forth. In general fish will be located in or near the bait which can be boittom oriented or suspended. In the summer and especially for browns look for drop-offs where the preferred temp or the temp of the break in the thermocline intersects the bottom ( e.g. determined by your Fish Hawk data)...very often rainbows and landlocks locate above thethermocline in summer and the lakers either within, just below, or on bottom in deeper water. As with many "gizmos" we tend to spend copious amounts of time looking at screens and sometimes forget about the actual fishing tactics...Temperature meters, fish finders, and all the other"stuff" we use are only as good as the fishing person's ability to integrate the information and make effective use of it. Actual experience plays a huge role in using these "tools" effectively.

Edited by Sk8man
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Fish the marks. I have hammered the Lakers in high 60 to low 70 degree water on skaneateles. When there was a big perch hatch. For me the speed at the ball is the most important.

Exactly! Fish the marks. I rely heavily on my sonar/gps. I have the most confidence in my sonar. I think its easy to get too focused on down temp and miss alot of productive water. When im marking life on my sonar, im not too concerned about temps. best, mark

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on Ontario you might have toi move out a few miles because there isnt extreme drop off like cayuga. ??

This is sometimes true, sometimes false on Big-O. I've experienced moving two miles west and finding 8 F difference.

Tom B.


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The speed is dependent on a whole bunch of things such as what you are running for rods, the type of lures (spoons or stickbaits, the type of attractor, dipseys, wires.mono or leadcore, time of year etc. What I am getting to is that your speed is pretty much relative to your own boat/motor setup situation combined with the above and any currents you detect in the water you are fishing, and wind speed with or against you etc.. Someone could say fish for lakers at 1.8 mph and it means just about zero to your situation because of these variables. In the old days before the GPS and temp/speed metering devices they used a "gizmo" that had a wire with a weight attached to it which dragged in the water at the side of your boat and it was attached to a scale of colors (e.g. red being slow, yellow medium and green at high speed for example sake I don't remember the exact colors or sequence). As you increased your speed the the hand on the dial moved toward a certain color and when you caught a fish at that speed you put a mark with a grease pencil or small piece of tape exactly where you were on the scale. It was a measure of relative speed but focused on your particular boat and that particular species of fish so you learned the RANGE of speeds associated with actual catches of fish. That same principle applies here but with more specific metering of the surface speed on your boat. The long and short of it is that the best way to make the determination of the ranges is to do it with your own boat and use your own data to make your decisions, and speed at the depth is a more relevant measure if you have something like the Fish Hawk etc. to measure it . In general though lakers are usually caught at slower speeds with browns a little faster and rainbows and landlocks at higher speeds but nothing is cast in stone as you will discover :)  I think the.5 mph noted above is quite a bit slower than usual laker speed...Change speeds often and go against or diagonally across currents and make "s" turns...I sometimes even "rock" my boat to change the action of the lure.

Edited by Sk8man
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Great Info !! thanks. What is your take on Leader lenght? When i run a flasher set up with a sutton 22 off the back of it i make the flurocarbon leader about 30". I run the flashers about 10 to 20 feet behind the ball. When running dispsy divers i make a 5 foot fluracarbon leader behind the the diver and snubber hooker to a spoon. I am pretty new to this and fish CA lake the most. We used to just pull copper wire and catch our lakers that way.


Any insight would be great. Thanks...

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