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Niagara, Precision Trolling!

by Nic DiGravio

Niagara salmonThe mouth of the Niagara River is truly a fisherman's paradise. When we approached the mouth of this fantastic river the sonar was in its glory! Fish were everywhere! Why we ask? Well, by looking overhead one could not help but notice the thousands of Seagulls grouped in distinct areas. Believe you me, they're not there for the sites they're there for a reason, feasting!

Being a smelt fanatic in my younger years I seem to recall many an accidental netting of predatory fish because, obviously, they would follow their food source. As I became older and wiser I now use smelt imitating body baits in the spring of the year. The bait that is best suited for the job is the Yozuri. In many instances this lure has produced 'big time' and the mouth of the Niagara River is no exception.Yozuri

Niagara's flow creates a distinction between 'fast' and 'slow' moving water. Trolling the 'slow' side, which in turn, is the outside of the flow, can have good results. Keep a sharp eye on the sounder because in some areas the bottom comes up in a hurry!


It is not going to be one of those outings where you drop your cannon ball and sit and wait for your rod to 'pop'. Precision trolling requires team work and that's the key here at the Niagara. You can be at 90 ft one minute and 50 ft the next so; manning the downriggers is a must to follow the bottom contour. This trolling method calls for 2 downriggers at a time, any more than that would just be frustrating for the handler. Short leads of 30 to 60 ft behind the cannon ball are all you need for the bait to move up and down relatively fast. The longer the lead the slower it moves and you encounter bottom debris. Don't forget to release line from the rod when going down and tighten when coming up. Precision trolling calls for tight turns, so keeping your downriggers 10 ft apart in depth will save you from entanglement. It takes a little getting used to but with this method the driver has full reign to run a small area of the lake and can take the handler in any type of bottom terrain, right on top of the fish. When a rod 'pops' slow down the engine and pull the other rod and cannon ball out of the water because if you don't, the unpredictable bottom contour of Niagara can really play havoc while attention is on the fighting fish.Niagara Laker

Precision trolling like this requires some modifications to your sonar's transducer. By this I mean changing the angle of your transducer so that you not only mark fish on the finder but also the cannon balls. In doing this I never need to see my depth readouts on the downriggers I just watch my depth sounder to see where each cannon ball is at all times in relation to the bottom and the fish. It takes the guesswork out of where you are and helps you follow bottom contour no matter where the driver takes the handler. Yes, your sounder will read a wrong depth, but at the dock and shallow water the angle of the transducer doesn't affect it much but where it counts is in the depths where the fish hold. It doesn't matter to me if I have the wrong depth what matters is that I know where my cannon balls are at all times. That means 'everything'. How can you be precise in trolling unpredictable terrain if you can't see your cannon balls!

Niagara LakerThe mouth of the Niagara River can be fished in many ways from the traditional jigging and dragging to trolling with Planer Boards and Dipsy divers. But certain real estate in Niagara calls for precision trolling and when done properly you can troll where no man has trolled before! And best of all, reap its rewards!

 

 

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