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By Chubs
So my wife actually gave me the go ahead for this weekend to go fishing. I'm stoked!

So my plan this go is to fish a little deeper water in the morning while I wait for the shallows to warm up. Areas like river outlets into bays. I'm thinking I'll be coving a bit of ground and so to maximize my time I'm going to try to troll some lures on my way to spots.

I've read up a lot of tips on the board but had a few questions I'm unclear about.

I'm planning to just troll cocahoe minnows on a jig head.
My paddling speed seems to be around 3 mph (this was my average speed based on my last trip from the GPS)
My anticipated depth is about 2-4 ft (based on NOAA charts - seems shallow for a river outlet but who knows)

So the questions:
What sort of weight jig head should I use?
What size cocohoe minnow is good for winter? I have 3" and 4" various colors.
Is 3mph too fast for fish in the winter? I hear they are sluggish so not sure if I ought to slow it down.
Is there a general time/ temperature to stop trolling and go hit the shallows?

Any other general tips for locating good trolling waters?
User avatar
By Cuervo Jones
The fish will thank you for your efforts. Trolling cocahoes is a winning tactic all year long. I use 1/8 jigheads and vary speed according to depth and what songs I’m whistling at the time.
Slayer and Misfits=fast troll.
ABBA and Type O Negative=slow troll.
Size doesn’t matter. I always start big. If lots of nibbles and not many hookups, go small (hardly ever).
Hit the shallows in the afternoon when it’s warm and you feel like shedding a layer.
And of course, report back on your findings.

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User avatar
By Chubs
Awesome! I actually got most of my ideas from reading your reports and old posts :)

Shoot! Now I need to go buy a waterproof boom box and setup a shoulder rigging system.
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By Yaklash
Not a troller, but have trolled lures on a long paddle, hoping to pick up something while I make some distance. Cuervo has covered a lot of it. I would add that winter time is for slow, slower and slowest. Most trout, and pretty much all big trout, slow down and try to get as many calories per meal as possible, while expending as little energy as possible. Thus, they aren't going to chase a lure and if it come swimming by at 3 mph, unless it comes within a foot of them, a big trout is unlikely to strike it. Schoolies will, but not the big ones. Thus we mostly throw Fat Boys in the winter. They are big profile baits (match the mullet hatch) that can be worked effectively at a snail's pace. But I would not troll a Corky :wink:
User avatar
By Cuervo Jones
I troll my cork lures (fat boys and tsunamis) just fast enough to keep them off bottom. Usually ~1.6 mph. Never cast them except when it’s time to get them out to troll. There is no “right” way to fish. Dare to Experiment!

Also...where did you get that beautiful photo of me and my book box?!

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User avatar
By kickingback
A good trolling speed can be from 1-3 mph. I normally get hits at 1.5 mph the most. Int he winter 1 mph or less may be required. Just paddle every other stroke to slow down. I use my soanr with GPS and hone in the correct speed. I will stop and cast to shell reefs and after throwing I will drift or troll the outside edges of the reef near the drop offs. Works well for me.
The cocohoe minnow has a paddle tail so the vibration of the tail flapping back and forth should draw in the predators if the tail can be "paddled" and that happens as slow as .5 mph. Good luck!
User avatar
By karstopo
saltykat(you might search out his reports if you haven’t already) was another big time troller. I fished with him a few times and he would troll Tsunami ( Corky type lures) in his Hobie much of the time and much of the time he moved very slowly over the structure. Since he was in a Hobie with a Mirage drive, he’d hold the rod and impart little twitches to the lure. He caught a lot of big trout doing this. The couple of spots we fished together were pretty deep channel type places with structure coming off the shoreline. He also and mostly fished open bay with subsurface structures trolling over those.

I used to troll a fair amount. One way was the troll a paddle tail like a cocahoe or Assassin or dsl whatever I was using at the time on an 1/8 ounce head from wherever I launched to wherever I was going. So I was just trolling along at long distance cruise speed and might slow up a bit on interesting stretches. It could be pretty productive, but if I stopped to fish the area just by cast and retrieve, I couldn’t always do as well. A couple of places I fished had a variety of structure and depths and I would slow troll along looking for Fish sign. The fish moved around on the structure and trolling helped locate them.

I haven’t really trolled much with fly tackle. Sometimes, I’ll leave out 20-30 feet of line, leader, and fly when I move around in the kayak looking for fish or to reposition and have picked up fish that way.

Trolling for me was mostly something that was different and good when I was tired from casting or needed to relocate to another spot. Most of the time, I enjoy casting at something, Fish, structure or sign, and then working the lure or fly to get the presentation I want more than leaving line out on long trolls. But you got to be you and there’s definitely folks that enjoy trolling more than anything and trolling is their bread and butter style of fishing.
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By Cuervo Jones
Karst speaks the truth. Another thing I should mention is that when trolling, if I get a hit near any kind of structure (reef, drain, channel, drop off, etc), I’ll stop and cast my cocahoe awhile. Some of my best spots have been found like this. And casting might be the best presentation for some spots. Mostly, for me, drains and channels are the best casting locations, especially where they meet an opening or abruptly widen into a shallow flat.

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User avatar
By Crusader
Best lure I found for trolling is freshwater Rapala Floater F07 or F05 -- depending how you tie it it runs either 1 or 3 feet under water. Perfect for trolling Trinity flats. Reds love when it digs in the mud a bit. When you do it right -- your rod tip visibly vibrates. Trolling speed ~1.5mph.
User avatar
By Yaklash
Crusader wrote:Best lure I found for trolling is freshwater Rapala Floater F07 or F05 -- depending how you tie it it runs either 1 or 3 feet under water. Perfect for trolling Trinity flats. Reds love when it digs in the mud a bit. When you do it right -- your rod tip visibly vibrates. Trolling speed ~1.5mph.

I tried a floater/diver ( Cotton Cordell Jointed Redfin) behind a kayak with no success (one trip, a 1 mile paddle to my wading spot and the same paddle back). I've only ever caught trout on a Redfin and would assume bigger trout wouldn't hit a surface or near surface bait in the wake of a kayak or other boat. You prove otherwise, Thanks.
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By Chubs
Thanks for all the tips guys! Especially the speed component, I'm guessing a lot of my trolling failures in the past is probably I was moving too fast. Great tips on structures too thanks.

Going to put it all into practice tomorrow :)

Oh one more question; about how far out do you trial your lure behind your kayak? I figure fiveish kayak lengths (~50/60 ft)?
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By kickingback
Yep that's about right. I let mine out about 3 kayaks length (30'-40'). I found it depends on the weight of the lure or jig head. The heavier the lure/jig the lower it will ride in the water. The lighter will ride high especially if you are trolling faster than 1.5 mph. A normal steady even retrieve of your line when standing still is anywhere from .5-2 mph depending on how fast you reel it in.
What I do is drop my lure next to my yak and watch the action in the water and how far it goes down as I paddle. If it sinks fast I change to lighter jig. Same if I am trolling 1.5-3 mph I tie on a heavier lure to get it down. It's trial and error with your lures so practice dragging them and seeing how they look next to your yak.
You will see the vibration of the line sometimes from the paddle tails and definitely from a diver or billed bait. Just have to make sure it doesn't dive all the way down and get hung. They are great to bounce off the mud like Kar said.
If you use a diving lure just check your speed and see how deep it goes by how fast you are going. Hope this all makes sense. I just got off Lake Conroe and caught a limit of crappie and I'm tired!
User avatar
By Crusader
Yaklash wrote:I tried a floater/diver ( Cotton Cordell Jointed Redfin) behind a kayak with no success (one trip, a 1 mile paddle to my wading spot and the same paddle back). I've only ever caught trout on a Redfin and would assume bigger trout wouldn't hit a surface or near surface bait in the wake of a kayak or other boat. You prove otherwise, Thanks.

Mt first trout caught in Trinity area was 25.5" caught in February trolling this lure around wells in 3-4 fow. And there was another day in the pocket (April, I think) when I caught 13 upper slot reds with few of them over the slot. They destroyed my $15 wallmart reel. I miss the drought -- Trinity was so good back then. :-)

Naturally, trolling is not a guarantee -- if fish isn't there you won't catch it. Another trick is to check your rod tip regularly: if it stopped vibrating -- that means your crankbait snagged a piece of weed or muck and is not going to catch anything... time to clean and redeploy it.

Chubs wrote:Oh one more question; about how far out do you trial your lure behind your kayak?

At least 60' -- basically throw it back as far as you could and even make few paddle strokes before closing the bail. You'll need to be in the open to troll like that.

kickingback wrote:I just got off Lake Conroe and caught a limit of crappie and I'm tired!

Not bad! How is the boat traffic? Are they at usual depth (14-18')?
User avatar
By TroutSupport.com
You might also bring some heavier jig heads and fish deeper water and slower. Right now with the current water temps you might even fish the rivers and bayous that are deeper and use a heavier jig head.

good luck
User avatar
By kickingback
Crusader, I fished early Friday morning and the boat traffic was minimal for a weekday. I saw 6 boats all day and 3 of them fished near me under the bridge. The crappie were 10'-13' down. The shad bait showed on my sonar.
Since it is so cold the shad bunch up together in deeper water to survive the winter and the crappie bunch up to eat the shad. Since the shad and crappie area all bunched up you need only find the bait. The crappie follow them around the lake to feed. That's why you catch so many crappie in one spot in the winter. And since crappie usually feed "up" they usually never feed "down". AS long as the jig is right in front of them or just above their eyes can see the lure. If too deep they will not look down or hit it. I used the depth test. Lowered my line to 8', then 9', then 10' and so on until I get a bite. At 0700 the bite was at 10'. At 0900 the bite was at 12'. Since the water temp never changed I suspect they were merely following the shad and at 0630-0730 I could see the shad hitting the surface so the crappie were under them at 10'. I am assuming that as the sun rose, the shad moved lower out of the sun to avoid birds maybe. This pushed the crappie down a few feet.
That's my story and I am sticking with it! :lol:
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By Crusader
Well, when I was chasing hybrids on Conroe few years ago I saw a lot of shad much deeper than 10' down -- more like 30 :). And apparently crappies could go very deep too as I have discovered by snagging one ~40' down in ~55' of water in the middle of nowhere. That is why I asked about depth.

I have no idea how much time crappies spend in the open and if it is possible to reliably catch them there. So, knowing depth, assuming you were catching them on structure and knowing few brushpiles at that depth range allows me to build a battle plan if I decide to hit Conroe.

Too bad I turned into couch potato with these cold temps -- fish are pretty much safe from me right now. :-)
User avatar
By saltykat
After having spent thousands of hours on the bays to me the best way to find the fish is drifting and trolling. Once found
the catching is usually the easy part. Say you have an area you are targeting maybe 1 to 2 square miles in that area there are reefs, flats, guts, ledges and plateaus. The trout can be anywhere in that given area depending on conditions such as bait, current and wind and often in winter there aren't many visible signs. Not much bait or birds helping point you in the right direction. A gps depth finder is as important as your fishing rod and a drift sock will help you slow your drift. In winter I would throw a corky type lure at least 95% of the time. A couple days after a cold front blows through is the time to be out there. To find the trout sometimes all you need is one faint tick on the line to let you know they're hungry other times they will hammer it. Once you get bit mark the spot with the gps and cast to the area from a distance. Sometimes you can catch many fish in that spot before they move off. A slow moving lure is often the key. Drift with the wind and troll back into the wind or an angle into it. If your not hanging up occasionally your retrieve is too fast. Its hard for a big girl to pass up an easy meal when its sitting in front of her face. When trolling into the wind with a pedal kayak you can keep the corky inches from the bottom in the same spot with a few subtle twicthes of the the rod tip. Often early in the morning the fish will be deeper and as the water warms a few degrees the fish will move up and get more aggressive. Concentrate on water in the 3 to 5 foot depth with a mud and shell mix. Sometimes a late start is ok but many times the fishing is best early in the morning even if its cold. If your sitting home with the kayak stored away for the winter your missing the best fishing of the year :cat:
User avatar
By Cuervo Jones
Thus spake the super-guru, briny feline. I have been employing your cork trolling techniques for a year now. Definitely an efficient and fun way to catch fish all winter.

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By shoffer
I, too, have been lucky enough to fish with the Kat during the winter. He is definitely the trout whisperer. Do what he says, and be rewarded.
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By Chubs
Thanks for all the tips folks.

I'm happy to say I made it out yesterday and had great success in large part from everyone's tips here. I'll post up my report later when I'm near my computer.
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By Chubs
Just to note what I tried, will give full report later but I thought here I can further the trolling experiment I did :)

Part 1 - trolled a 3" cocohoe color "cock of the walk with chartreuse tail" on a 1/8 oz rattling jig head.
Took it over my long 1 mile paddle to the 1st spot. Didn't ever register a bite.
I think the bottom was mud about 1' depth. No idea if I crossed any shell since I don't have a depth finder and Google earth never showed shell there.
I was having real difficulty fighting the wind and staying under 2 mph so I just gave up caring about speed.

Part 2 - trolled a 1/8 oz bunny fur jig tipped with a strip of squid over oyster about 1 - .5 ft depth. Kept hanging up with no bites so I reeled it in :(

Part 3 - feeling a little discouraged at this point thanks to my long trek with no bites, I changed to a 3" pink and clear bottom with chart tail (I forget the color name ) this time with a 3/8 oz lead jig head. I was at my main target area though which was a cut between two flats so I knew the cut would be deep. So I knew the 1/8 would never get down far enough. I started trolling again, again could not keep my speed below about 2 to 1.5 (I really need to get my rudder installed!!). I had just rounded a bend and was surprised I didn't have any bites still so wanted to make sure I didn't have seaweed all over, so I stopped and reached for my rod, start reeling in and the line pulls back! I pulled in a 21" spec :). I have no idea if he bit before I stopped or when I stopped (like maybe that triggered the strike?) Or maybe I subconsciously knew something was up, unfortunately I can't hold the rod as I paddle. What do y'all think?
Next I paddled the same setup further, I think I got more strikes but never hooked up anything. Then I got to the end of the cut and tried trolling around the mouth, saw my tip vibrate a few times so I figured that meant something was up. Reeled in and fan casted the area and sure enough I had located a school of reds!
I'll post more details and pics in my report later.
After that fun, I headed back to launch with same setup. Got to the shallows and the 3/8 oz was just snagging too much so I threw my fat boy imitation lure. The fat boy didn't snag but I also think it was just floating on the surface the whole way. The wind cocking of my kayak was getting super annoying by this point so I just reeled in to fight another day.

And to note, my rod tip vibrates slightly at 1.5 mph. I didn't know what to look for at first but I think any stop in the vibration or twitch of the rod is the signal to check it or check the area. My eyes aren't experienced enough yet though to be certain.

Also, this was how I setup my trolling rod so I could see what was going on. I discovered awhile ago trolling from my back rod holders is useless.
Trolling setup
User avatar
By Cuervo Jones
Sounds like you had a great day. I use a similar rod holder setup in my paddle yak. The other thing I do is lay the rod across my lap and brace the butt under my leg. Faster response time. Typically a red will grab and just hold on. The rod arcs into a nice bend and you’re all good to set the hook and reel. Trout seem to prefer a cocahoe not touching bottom, while the reds like it to tap along the mud (but not always). Pro tip: also try a Mann’s baby 1 minus wakebait.

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