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Handline trolling on Keuka


mfz

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Was out in my kayak on Keuka this am, paddle trolling and not getting anything and there were two small boats that appeared with fishermen in the back of their boat holding the fishing line in their hands and jigging what looked small silver spoons. They were trolling slow picking up the occasional fish, big enough that they used nets to land them. Never did see what how big or what they were. Does anybody have any insight on this technique? Been fishing for too many years to think about and never have seen or heard of this.

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They were either pulling copper or a Seth Green rig. When I started fishing Keuka back in 1960 you either fished bait under lights at night, pulled copper or a rig by hand. Planner boards and downriggers hadn't been invented yet. Nobody used a "meat stick" with the rigs like they do today and most would use the outboard to get to their desired area then row while pulling the rigs. Row once--pull twice was the cadence back then.

Now, I almost always jig for lakers as it's a lot more fun than rig fishing but a few days a year I still do it and sometimes still pull by hand. It's still a thrill to have a3-5 lb laker take a spoon with the line in your hand.

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I forgot to mention that anyone wanting to learn about Finger Lakes fishing back in the "old days" would enjoy "Fishing New York State Lakes for Fabulous Trout, Rainbows and Salmon" by Earl Holden. It's a bit over 200 pages of pictures and diagrams of the many ways of fishing the lakes.

Might be hard to find but the books a real gem.

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Copper pulling is tough on your shoulders if you have arthritis. I got 2 Victrola boxes I don’t use anymore. I had a lot of fun with them over the years. Sawbelly fishing is obsolete. Who can afford a dozen sawbellies at today’s price. Night fishing is still a good way to fish but I wouldn’t use live bait. A jig and a good fish finder would be better way to fish under lights. I loved that Earl Holden book. Its a classic. I still have mine.

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Meat sticks and Peen 49 reels were very common back in those days with 40 oz of lead. Lol You could fish 15 spoons with those rigs. Times have changed. Today we can use 3 rods per man if you want. I cant get use to 3 rods. I catch enough fish on two rods

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There is a old fellow that hand line trolls for walleye on the Black River and he is good at it I might add. I talked to him last year for a while, ang he told me he uses a fly rod reel, you just have to pull up on a little lever and it auto reels the slack line up. He uses a 3# DR. Ball on 30# power pro for the down line and a 8ft piece of fluro up about 16" and either a spoon or a crawler harness and he just bounces the ball off the bottom using the fly rod reel to keep the slack line out from under his feet, my dad and I watched this guy in action and it was really cool to see him in operation. We were back trolling up the river and he was catching walleye in our slack water. It is a true art to witness and watch this guy in action. His old 14ft aluminum and chain stringer hanging in the water with some dandy walleye on it. I thought he was amazing to watch!! It's a shame that these old theories and ways will soon be lost. Oh and he told me you need a set of leather batters gloves if don't want blisters on your hands.

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I still like to troll. Last time on Keuka, I got 4, lost 4, and had 6 hits that I know of. The bite was very lite. I use a 3 spoon rig that looks like a Seth Green rig. You hear a lot of talk about down-riggers, but those of us who troll slower use one 16oz or 20oz to get down to the bottom. If you don't have a fish finder, a reel with a counter could help with the depth, 80ft to 120ft is a good depth to set up. Good luck.

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Just a single sinker. I have seen them at the smaller bait & tackle shops. There was a shop about 1 mi. so. of Hammondsport that had them but I don,=" know if they are still opened. I bought a mold and make my our. If you go to a heavy sinker, you might want to use a 3-way swivel.

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Fishy business on pepper has lots of lead. Along with anything else you need except lemonade!

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I am going to stick my nose in this and say that in Fingerlakes fishing in my opinion, nothing is obsolete or out dated. It's just what you can afford and what you choose to do. More than once I have been within sight distance of a loaded charter boat. Putting down my sutton heavy 88 on a Victrola when within three jerks of the wire wham I have a laker. I can't help but imagine what those customers were thinking. Seth green is an extremely effective way to run flutter spoons as well. I don't believe my son or I will ever forget hand lining in a 11.5 lb brown on a mono leader. Or 3 big salmon at once. Makes ya realize how much stretch that stuff really has! As for sawbelly fishing being obsolete... Tell that to laker taker who picked up the grand prize in the big derby this year!!! Tell that to my son when I doubled up the number of leads on our Seth Greene and shortened them then put 10 sawbellies on English hooks. We made our own bait pod called the tower of power. Holy crap the may lay that happened next. He still talks about that day!!! Anywho. Ya gotta love the old time methods especially if your on a budget. If you are interested in a Victrola , Joe Kane is a class act and his boxes are second to none. P m me for his number! All that being said..... Yeah, I have mag tens.........heeeeee. heeee!!!

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  Guys regularly catch   over a dozen lakers in a few hours on Keuka with a bass sized rod, and a 1 oz jig...  On a really good day you might catch 20 or 30..

No muss no fuss,no bait...
  Pulling copper is fine, and it works, there is no doubt..
 However, its time has come.. Simply no need for it, unless you just like to do it I supppose.. Same as meat rigs.. They work, and are cheap, but  for most are just a big pain in the ass to be honest.

 

 

 I suppose if you really WANT to drive a  car with straight axle, king pins, ,3 on the tree, points,, no ac. no power brakes or steering,  single master cylinder, bias tires, bench seats  with no belts, etc, you certainly can, but the modern cars are better in every respect, except for nostalgia... As far as lakers are concerned, why  bother with hundreds of feet of copper wound  on a massive Victrola, when a one handed light as a feather bass rod will catch as many or more fish, with a lot less hasssle...bob

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Just because a technique takes work AND skill doesnt make it obsolete. Try jigging em without a fishfinder! You dont need one to pull copper. To each his own. The old ways may not be as efficient or easy, but for some that is the attraction. Ive tried pulling copper and it certainly isnt for me, but I respect those who came before me and the techniques they used and still use. There is no wrong way to enjoy the outdoors.

Andy,

I hope your son passes the old ways on to his son along with the new.

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Most copper pullers work out to 90' to fish. All you need is something to tell you how deep you are fishing. Its pretty hard on the finger lakes to figure out how deep you are fishing with out one. Copper pulling is learning how to fish a contour with your spoon on the bottom. If you let out to much copper you will snag up. It requires boat skill and learning how to let out enough copper to fish the contour. If you want to fish with out a fish finder, fish the thermocline out in the middle of lake. It works if you know how deep your copper is running. Most of the time the fish will be bigger fishing the thermocline.  

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Fish however you want to fish..

I have switched to jigging myself, but I still have great memories about pulling a dacron Seth green rig by hand..

My biggest thrill on Keuka Lake was landing a 16 pound 12 oz. laker on Seth Green..I was fishing a 5 leader rig by hand right out of the box and he hit the second spoon down...I would have thought I hung bottom, but I knew I was fishing nowhere NEAR bottom..

Quite a trick, working him in totally by feel, with no mechanical drag to help me. It took me half an hour to land the fish...

That was Sept 15th, 1975 and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

I've taken many hundreds of lakers out of Keuka, he that fish remains my only one that weighed in double digits.

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I watched a professional walleye tournament and I forget the guys name he is Asian and they were fishing the Detroit river and he won using something close to what the guy on the Black River was using, most others were back trolling or jigging in the slack waters. Some were using rattle traps but most were using large swim baits. I finally remember his name Gary Yackamoto or something like that, he won by a land slide hand lining 6-9#ers it was a sight. I thought it was really neat to see him in action!! I know another guy who hand lines wire line on one of the finger lake, his dad taught him the technique and he tried to show me but man can I make a mess in a hurry, so I volunteered to run the boat, but Mike and his dad were doing a fine job on the lakers, not to much on the length of the fish but lots of them. I find these techniques interesting and I'm always game to try something different, maybe something they haven't seen in a while, or maybe never saw before.

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I have to say I miss pulling copper. I used to use a flat fish and it was great fun feeling every stone on the bottom...until you felt the pull of a laker. There's fun in all kinds of fishing but there is something to be said for that connection to a fish without a rod. Too bad the zebra mussels ruined it this kind of fishing for me.

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Back in the late sixties and early seventies I used a big green wheel with dacron line and bead chains spliced in to run 3 and 5 10 or 12 lb mono leader rigs with a 2 pound weight at the end from a buddy's boat (didn't have my own yet) and he was an experienced "old timer" on Keuka, Seneca, and Canandaigua. Pulling up big lakers was a blast and once in awhile we'd hook into a rainbow on it which would truly be a "handful" to land. We also jerked copper by hand and rolled the copper line up on a section of wood but hand lined it and coiled it up in the bottom of the boat as we went along feeling the bottom characteristics with the Pfleuger #4 or # 5,. Blue Mullet or Barracuda spoons or else the black Twin Minnow with a white underside....tick ticking along the bottom. There is nothing like the feeling of that dull thud as the big laker hits and that copper wire slips through your thumb and forefinger with the leather cut off glove fingers to protect your finger from being sliced off. Also fun holding the fish on the wire while trying to net him with the other hand or just flopping smaller ones into the boat without the net. The trick to mastering the "jerking" technique is practice practice practice.....it takes time to develop and is not the same one used for "other things" like popular belief :lol: We also fished with monel (single strand soft wire) especially in winter fishing cowbells and spoons or frozen sawbellies or Twin Minnows off bottom in 150ft of water with victrolas or A and S automatic reels(even in snow storms). Later came the introduction to and use of victrola rigs (various types) and boat rods with roller tips and wire to replace the green wheel of the Seth Green rigs. Most folks now days are using all the most modern equipment (myself included) but missing is that more direct contact with the fish and a more intense thrill of landing it by hand which is a more "primitive"  experience that many of our ancestors experienced as well. As with a lot of things in life now we have gotten away from the "basics".... Here is what the cover of the Holdren book looks like. I believe it is long out of print but it is the best fishing book about the Finger Lakes fishing that I have ever read and I still treasure it...it truly has been my "fishing bible".

post-145411-0-11290700-1402322533_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sk8man
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