have always looked at these winter months as the time when I can begin to catch
up on some learning. You see,
during the period from April through September is tournament season on the
Professional Walleye Trial (PWT) where I compete. During that period, magazines stack up next to my reading
table, waiting for this season when
I can finally devote some time to studying the written word.
Since I’m thinking so hard about what I’m going to learn for the
coming fishing season, why don’t I take this opportunity to pass along some
wisdom that I’m sure will put more walleye under your belt next season also.
I can fish a jig, and pitch to shallow walleye or work them in weeds, but when
it comes to my bread and butter, everyone has one. The one that I am so effective at and have great confidence
in cashing a check with , is trolling. Not
just any trolling, but trolling with bottom bouncers. Bottom bouncers are actually a misnomer because they are
quite a bit more versatile than just for fishing on the bottom.
bottom bouncer itself is just a 90º bent wire with a weight cast to the leg
that sticks out towards the bottom and a trailing arm that you attach your bait
to. Bottom bouncers can be of
varying weights, typical weights in my
box are from ¼ oz. to 4 oz. They
can also be painted or plain lead, and in most instances I fish painted, it adds
an element of attraction to the trailing bait presentation. Bottom bouncers, made by a variety of companies, all claim
certain traits that make their designs better than the others do.
The one aspect of a bottom bouncer design that is truly imperative is, if
it spins and twists your line if you pick up speed or hit bottom.
This you can only find out by experimentation of many different kinds, or
listen to the advice of an old pro… like me (I don’t feel that old).
The only bottom bouncer I use, for the previous reason stated, is the
Northland Rock Runner. It has an R
bend where you attach your line, and this simple bend will keep you fishing
productively without tangles and spinning, as long as you are not dragging them
the bottom bouncer itself is an element of the equation to successful trolling
and not the only key. The rig that
fishes the bottom bouncer is just as important. Working up from the bottom bouncer, the next element is the
line. Although many fisherman use
monofilament lines as their main line, I have a distinct advantage over them by
using 20lb. test Fireline. Because
Fireline has no stretch, it transmits information to me up the line.
I have much better feel and
am able to keep my rig at the precise depth to make it most effective.
You see, many fisherman make the mistake, knowing or unknowingly in the
case of mono, of having their bottom bouncer in contact with the bottom too
much, especially if it is a soft or sandy bottom.
When fishing a contour edge, we need to keep the rig slightly above the
fish’s head. Because all predators look up to feed, a rig presented below them
may go by unnoticed. I want my
bottom bouncer to tick the bottom slightly, just occasionally.
In fact, the ideal depth would be, when I drop my
rod tip down to the water’s surface, the bottom bouncer makes contact
with the structure. By constantly checking for the structure, I am fishing within
a foot or so of bottom, and right over the walleye’s heads.
The process of checking for the bottom attracts attention.
Fireline transmits that slight bit of information to me immediately, no
matter what the bottom content is, so that my presentation spends more time in
the productive fish catching zone.
it’s up the line to the ideal stick and gear (rod and reel), combo, to
maximize not only our feel for this type of fishing, but give us the ability to
haul in some monster ‘eyes once we
hook’em. A long rod is required,
with my personal choice being the Gary Roach 7’10” medium action collapsible
rod teamed with an Abu-Garcia 5500 reel. The
good news is that this is the same rod I use for many applications, including a
planer board rod, so if you get this one, it has a great deal of versatility.
Now once we have geared up, it is time for bait
selection. Although you can present
a variety of baits on a bottom bouncer, the primary weapon is the spinner rig
for fishing crawlers and leeches. For
reasons you will understand better in a moment, the spinner rig of choice for me
is the Northland Float-N-spin. Ideal
shell lengths, for fishing structure, is 4 to 4 ½ feet, and for open water,
lengthen it to 6 to 8 feet. There
are reasons why the Northland Float-N-Spin is a superior rig.
One reason is the float that keeps my presentation from falling deeper
than the bottom bouncer when I reduce speed.
Speed, whether fishing structure or open water, is the key to fishing a
bottom bouncer for maximum effectiveness.
another example, that should go a long way in helping you understand how to use
a bottom bouncer and regulate its fish catching ability with speed with planer
boards in open water. If I want to
present baits to both fish that I’ve marked on my Eagle Optima depth finder at
20 feet deep, I’ll use a 3 oz. bottom bouncer and let out 27 feet of line.
Trolled at about 1.4 to 1.8 mph, this bait will take my bait down to
about 17 to 18 feet deep, right over the fish’s head, where I want to be.
Now, let’s say I mark a school of fish at 15 feet on my Eagle Optima, I
want to put that bait in their faces, right now, not on the next pass, because
they may be gone by then. The way I
do that is what I call fishing the pendulum.
By increasing my speed, up to about 2.0 to 2.2 mph, the bottom bouncer
immediately rises up, and by the time the bait comes by that school, it is tight
over their heads and if they are active, they’ll hit it. This
is a prime example of the pendulum theory of fishing where I can swing the bait
up to fish for the fish that appear on my depth finder screen.
other end of the pendulum, would be if, fishing the same rig under the same set
of circumstances, my Eagle Optima shows me a group down at 23 feet deep.
To swing the pendulum down, and get the bait in above them, I simply hit
the idle/resume button on my TR-1 autopilot and it kicks the speed down from 2.2
to 1.4 on my Mariner 9.9 hp Four Stroke kicker motor, and pendulum the bait
down. As my Lund 1990 Pro V glides
down in speed, the bait is presented right to the fish, and pow! In a perfect
world, I’ve just caught a fish that otherwise would not have had the
opportunity to see or hit my bait.
pendulum system of fishing requires perfect boat control along with precise
speed adjustments. Although
extremely effective at producing fish for years, this was a very cumbersome
technique because I was forced to steer my boat, control my throttle, and fish
all my rods all at the same time. I
already know what happens when I have a great multitude of tasks to take care of
when fishing some of them invariably suffer.
Well, the task of pendulum fishing has become much easier with the advent
of autopilot systems for kicker motors. I now use the TR-1 autopilot system, because not only
does it steer my boat automatically, adjusting for cross currents and cross
winds, but also controls my throttle so I can adjust my speed without ever
touching the motor. I simply stand
anywhere there is a fish finder in the boat, and a small hand held remote about
the size of a microphone, and making steering and speed adjustments.
There is also a button on the remote that when hit, immediately idles the
motor down, and when I hit again, brings the boat back up to the speed it was at
before the button was hit. It
allows me to work the pendulum more effectively than ever before.
That means more fish on the end of my string, and after all, that is why
we go fishing! For more information
about the revolutionary new autopilot system from TR-1, call Nautamatic Marine
Systems at 1-800-58-TROLL.
this winter, take a little time at the sports shows and learn some about fishing
bottom bouncers. Collect some of
your own and start to fish the pendulum on your favorite waters.
I can guarantee, that once you figure it out, it is not very hard.
You will be putting more fish in the boat also.
See you at the sports shows!