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Troll with or against current?


PPLEPEU

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While waiting for the next hookup, we've talked/argued a lot about the right technique for fishing a current on the Great Lakes. We typically try to fish against a current and argue about it all the time... :lol:

Assuming Kings will almost always orient themselves facing a current, the arguments focus around bait presentation.

1). Against the current:

Trolling against the current will drag a bait from behind the fish -- he gets a quick look as it flies by and will have to speed up to catch it.

2). With the current:

The lure comes at the fish while he's parked in the current, facing 'upstream'. He gets a longer look and has to do a quick turn to chase the bait.

The proponents of 'Against the current' say that *both* the bait fish and salmon will almost always face into a current. The salmon is parked, waiting for bait to swim by and become a tasty meal. Wanting to mimic nature, the best presentation results from trolling Against the current.

The 'With the current' crowd say all you need to do is look at what works when stream-fishing for salmon. You float a lure down the current to give the fish a long look -- he'll do a quick turn and grab as the bait floats by. While baitfish aren't mayflies, the principal is the same.

So what do you think -- With or Against? Why?

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Your assumption is that a feeding salmon is stationary in the water waiting for a meal to drift/swim by. I don't know, but is that true? Seems that maybe active fish are roaming the lake looking for a meal and in that case, with or against current may not be as big a player as getting the proper lure action to trigger a response.

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That's a valid point. I agree the fish probably aren't stationary like we see in rivers when they stack up for spawning.

I do wonder how true it is that salmon typically swim with their head into the current. That may also be something that's true in a stream, but not the lake.

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We have not really seen one direction better than the other. What is key is your presentation being dialed in for whichever way you are going. If you are trolling into the current and everything is working, when you turn, everything is now at a different depth (and likely speed if you dont have down speed) and your action will turn off. If you compensate for this action can and should be the same. Divers and riggers always do better into the current, coppers do best rolling with the current.

Have a buddy with a smaller boat, whenever he goes out in rough seas he runs for several hours into it, then turns around trolls all the way home with the waves and current. 4 coppers a side...that's it. Whacks them every time.

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1. Physiologically, a salmon can see a wider angle and farther, in front of him than behind him. Logically, he'll get a better/longer look at it if you pull it from his right to left or his left to right. i.e. it'll be in his viewing area longer. Your stream fisherman cast out into the stream and the current brings it back towards shore, hence across his view, regardless if the fish is pointing upstream or downstream.

2. Salmon in the lake don't sit still. They go all over the place.

Therefore, don't overthink it... :) ...fish across the current. You'll cover more depth, as a plus.

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Keep in mind this: the actual current is below the surface, the waves, are on top of the surface. So, does it always follow that the current and waves are in synchronization? Not really, and how do you tell? Watching your dropped rigger lines when set will mostly tell you the direction of the current. Say you are going downwind with the waves, most favor this troll if choppy. How are the lines looking? Are they swaying to one side or the other of the transom? Or are they swung way out? Or are they up tight to the transom? Try to project yourself into the fish to see where the best presentation is. And of course where you start marking and getting hits. Fishing, at least to me on the great lakes, is not all black and white rules, its science at it's finest, if you approach it that way. Another important factor is the speed of that current. Watch your fishhawk and observe the speed. I've seen the current pushing 2mph at one point, then, in less than 50 yards further, speed up to 4mph. The speed at the lure is ever important to presentation, and bites.

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Keep in mind this: the actual current is below the surface, the waves, are on top of the surface. So, does it always follow that the current and waves are in synchronization? Not really, and how do you tell? Watching your dropped rigger lines when set will mostly tell you the direction of the current. Say you are going downwind with the waves, most favor this troll if choppy. How are the lines looking? Are they swaying to one side or the other of the transom? Or are they swung way out? Or are they up tight to the transom? Try to project yourself into the fish to see where the best presentation is. And of course where you start marking and getting hits. Fishing, at least to me on the great lakes, is not all black and white rules, its science at it's finest, if you approach it that way. Another important factor is the speed of that current. Watch your fishhawk and observe the speed. I've seen the current pushing 2mph at one point, then, in less than 50 yards further, speed up to 4mph. The speed at the lure is ever important to presentation, and bites.

Great points by Rascal. Often times after a sustained blow from a certain direction piling water up against a shoreline, the water runs out of places to go and rushes back the opposite direction down below. Watching gear and speed are both recommended. If your gear doesn't look straight you should figure it out quick or it can result in big time tangles, or fish hitting at weird angles when they do hit, resulting in poor hookups.

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I find it's far more important to stay on the active fish. Some days the fish seem to be more direction orientated and some days not. Trolling with or against the current can put you out of the action at times. "Find out what the want and give em lots of it."

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I have a hard time getting my boat to troll near 2mph so I usually try to avoid trolling against the current which is very noticeable somedays. Hoping to fix that this year but, going with or across it works for me and have really not noticed much difference in hook up rate? I'll be paying more attention this year since that's one thing I've never thought of. Good point!

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mostly agree with rascal i know a guy who spends lots of time looking at his rigger wires and cannonballs just as rascal describes and does great but never turns back when he goes through fish just keeps on his S.A.D.=speed, angle, direction. if you look at the smallest perch or stream trout in a creek they will be facing into the current. now where i mostly fish this sometimes does not matter as every one is dictated to run in a circle by fall. would like to try this more in the big lake. lastly yes salmon move all over and often and a romp across the lake is nothing. that said they wont die if they quit swimming some of the time they are suspended ,moveing little if at all. maybe this would apply more to those fish and not be an issue during the prime active bite ? great thread as the nameless above captain is the only one who i have ever bring this up.

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You can catch fish going in any direction. The salmon swim in every direction to the current, and the baitfish do too. Otherwise, the fish would never leave a certain depth of water as, on this side of the lake, the predominant current is from the south, as the water flushes to the ocean. However, after a strong south blow for an extended period of time, the current may be from the north as the water flows back for a time. The most important consideration is that your bait is being presented at its ideal speed and has the right action for the mood of the fish. If you have any current to mention, this means different speeds with, against, and sideways to the current. A couple extra considerations- I always check the current before I head out the door in the morning, for a few reasons. First, if I knew where some fish were recently, minus any seasonal migration patterns that may be at work, I assume that the fish may have worked down with the current with the baitfish that it is probably also pushing. Second, if you are on a pod of fish, you typically want to troll into the current because you get your best bait action at a slower over-ground speed, meaning you stay over the fish longer. On the other hand, if I don't know where the fish are and am in "search" mode, I might purposely troll with the current as I will need a faster speed to get the right bait action, meaning I cover more water and give myself a better chance of encountering fish. Finally, if you run a lot of copper and leadcore on your boat, and the current is even reasonably strong, you are asking for big trouble if you are setting lines, or even simply trolling with your spread out, sideways to the current. This is how guys end up with the copper on one side of their boat in the diver on the other side of the boat. Setting these long lines is obviously safest going into the current, and quickest. Going with the current is my second choice, although you can still run into trouble if your speed is not up and you end up dropping your coppers into the divers, etc. I run two riggers, four divers, and six to eight boards off my 20' Lund, and, as long as I am paying attention to the current when I am setting lines, hardly ever have a problem. Another consideration, sometimes depending on where the fish are, you may have to troll in one direction. A number of years ago, the fish were over 200' down in the GH tournament. Even with a 16# ball, you couldn't get at those fish trolling into the current because the blow back was so great. The teams that did well figured out that they had to troll with the current to get the bait down to those fish. Obviously, in that case, the location of the bait was more important than the presentation. Final words, with my first sentence being said, there are some days when the fish will only hit going in one direction. Maybe it's because you can't get the right speed and action unless you are going in that direction. Maybe it's how the bait looks to the fish given the angle that the sun is hitting the bait. Maybe others have other ideas as to why this might be. I just know that it happens, and it can be frustrating because it certainly doesn't make fish-catching easy.

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