Trolling: I Can't Catch A Break... or a Fish
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Thread: Trolling: I Can't Catch A Break... or a Fish

  1. #1
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    Default Trolling: I Can't Catch A Break... or a Fish

    I'm kinda getting close to my wit's end because I just don't understand what I'm doing wrong.

    I'm new to the inshore/midshore trolling game. I did a couple trips this year and 1-2 last year as well. Every time, so far, I've trolled the East Lump/Middle Lump area and have run by the pots in the area there. Yesterday, I tried the Sea Isle Ridge and in toward Shutes Shoal. Every single time, I have never seen a sign of life on the days that I'm out. No bait. Not marking anything. No birds. No marine mammals... nothing. It's an absolute ghost town.

    Yesterday, I left CM inlet around 5:45 and got to the South side of Sea Isle Ridge around 7:00. Based on some recommendations, we set a 5 rod spread with a Clark spoon on the left side, a naked Ballyhoo mid-distance back on the mid-left, a cedar plug center just past the prop wash, a squid chain on the mid-right (which we alternated with another spoon as well), and a Clark bird far back on the right. Everything seemed to have the appropriate action. Our speed was good. I don't think we had anything set wrong.

    The biggest problem that I have is that I simply can't find anything alive in the ocean. It's not like we're going out to dead spots where there aren't any other boats. I'm always trolling around other boats fishing, but I never see anything and hear on the radio from everyone else in the area how dead it is (which is both a consolation because it least it is not just us but also frustrating as well), and these are always spots that I hear were "on fire" a day or two prior.

    I posted this in another thread as well, but it is getting really disheartening. It isn't really easy to get 1-2 other guys together to commit to heading out before sunrise and commit to a 20-30 mile run and hours-long trolling trip when there's nothing to show for it. I know that the guys that I take out are all doubting my ability, and I'm doubting it myself. I get that there are good days and bad days, but I can't figure out why every single time I do a trip like this corresponds with a bad day, and if I could get guys out for just one good day or even a good hour or-so on one day, then I know it would change everyone's outlook, but nobody (including myself) can believe at this point that it's just bad timing/bad luck and it isn't that I don't know what I'm doing or where to fish or some other failing on my part.

    Going into Sunday, I really was trying to do the work to figure out where our best bet would be. I looked through all of the weather reports, I looked through SST reports, etc, and I made the call to head to the Sea Isle Ridge rather than the East Lump because it looked like the warmer water was moving further inshore to the North better than the South. When we started trolling on the South edge of the Ridge, the water temp was 73.4, and on the North edge, it was 77.5, so that seemed to track with my expectations, but nothing. The SST chart that I looked at also made it look like there would be a nice bit of warm water moving into the area around the Cigar, but I saw someone also post that was dead yesterday as well, and I didn't feel like I had an additional 20-or so miles in me to run even further out.

    I feel like I come in here and see a lot of reports of guys at least getting into some action on the troll at these locations, but I just can't seem to break in to it. I'm always a day late. What do guys look for to figure out where they want to target or what makes for the 'right' day? It isn't just a matter of cruising the area between AC and Cape May and looking for any signs of life and then working that area, right? ...because I feel like doing something like and not having a plan of where we're going would make these kinds of trips a nightmare for me to know what our range would be, etc.

    Yesterday, we covered 94.5 miles between the run to Sea Isle Ridge, trolling it end to end, trolling from there to Shutes, and then pulling lines and running down to McCrie's to get skunked on flounder as well. I only burned through exactly 1/3 of a tank at 33 gallons burned of a 109 gal tank.

    Sorry for the rambling, but I'm just looking for any ideas or help or even commiseration. I hate disappointing the folks I take out with me, and my confidence is just shot for this kind of fishing at this point. I don't know what to do to change things up. Like any kind of fishing, I know that it takes time and experience to get better at this, but I can't do these kind of trips solo, and if I continue striking out, I think that's going to be it for getting a crew together to make the attempts with me.
    “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you'll have him buying gear for a lifetime."



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  3. #2
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    We hit the cigar with no luck save the bite off sat

    Havent trolled in awhile and it was a nice change of pace from the lack luster fluking

    We trolled a cedar plug in wash and skirted ballys -we were looking for dolphin but had a 30 and 2 tld25's just in case

    We pot hopped and saw zilch as well
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    We run out of Somers point, and are in the same boat almost literally. It’s my buddies boat we take out and he doesn’t have much fishing experience but loves to troll. So we trolled all around starting at he cuma lumps for a second weekend in a row. We got 1 bonito last week as we pulled up to the ac reef and that’s it. I’m not a big fan of trolling my self but it’s his boat. We have been running into tons of bunker pods the last couple weeks and have been snagging and dropping them catching a lot of sharks, some guys seeing cobia ( but not us) we tried the pots too seem like it’s on everyone’s radar, so don’t give up hope ur not the only one catching nothing. 👍
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    I went out yesterday. Left out of GE inlet at 6am - same deal, somehow got 2 friends still willing to fish with me after one too many fishless days. Started at triple lumps for 1 1/2 hours then out to pots (weren't there), trolled AC reef for 2 hours, then found 4 pots south of AC reef. Didn't have a bite or any sign of life. I'm not giving up. Let me know if you ever want to fish together, I'm also somewhat new to the in/mid-shore trolling game but I am gonna keep trying until something happens.
    Last edited by caplanz; 08-12-2019 at 06:18 PM.
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    I feel ur pain I have been out trolling 3 out of my last 4 trips with little to show for it. I know I have a major mutiny on my boat. If we did not manage to get a few fish last time out. I bet I would have been swimming home. Even though we have been getting better each time out I think it’s going to be a hard sell to get my crew out again at 5am. I might have to talk them into an afternoon trip.
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    We definitely haven’t crushed the fish inshore but fishing more Clark spoons at different depths may help. We are lucky enough to have a downrigger and have caught fish down 30 feet. Also don’t be afraid to fish closer to beach, had a 38 in. King 3 miles off lbi two weeks ago
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  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by KathyK View Post
    We definitely haven’t crushed the fish inshore but fishing more Clark spoons at different depths may help. We are lucky enough to have a downrigger and have caught fish down 30 feet. Also don’t be afraid to fish closer to beach, had a 38 in. King 3 miles off lbi two weeks ago
    Agree with this. Lose the plastics inshore and stick with spoons and small ballyhoos. Also, vary depths with trolling weights, planers and/or downrigger.
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    So here's a question...

    Would there be any benefit to running out of the CM canal, troll some spoons through the rips, around the point, and then run up to Hereford's and back at around the 3 mi line? Is there a chance of hooking up with something there, close to home that will let me/us practice in a bit of an easier setting?
    “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you'll have him buying gear for a lifetime."



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    Feel your pain brother we have all been there from time to time, this season is very hit or miss and yes things seem to be getting worse every year. You have to remember what it REALLY is all about, we're out there fishing, (hopefully) the sun is shining and winds are calm with smooth seas. Sometimes we're alone sometimes with loved family members or good longtime friends, sometimes with people we just recently met.

    The BIG picture is we're out there doing it, still young and healthy enough to still get it done. I'm sure everyone here at one time or another has dealt with someone they love battling a horrible disease no longer able to do the things they loved to do,,,probably losing the battle for their life & they know it along with everyone else that's close to them.

    So, the fishing sucks and your having a bad season, That's fishing sometimes (its a lot like life, YOU NEVER TRUELY KNOW). I know how you feel, I'm guilty of it too from time to time, sucks getting the skunk trip after trip, the money spent, battling horrible seas due to incompetent weather reports, time away from the family, maybe the old lady is chewing on your butt like a mako on a chum bag about all of it (I know mine does now and then).

    We'd all like to catch fish, not even everytime, just enough so our brains say "Yeah man, this is so worth it". I'll tell ya what, when I'm driving that boat back in through the inlet after ANOTHER horrible trip and I'm feeling like you do now (which is totally understandable). All I do is look up at the sky, where the loved ones I've lost in life are now living and I know I'd much rather still be here (just like them) even if the fishing sucks. We only get so much time at this game, enjoy it, love it,even if you having a bad season. Fish WILL gather under your boat again, time after time you WILL have awesome trips again. That's fishing.
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    Don't just concentrate on the popular lumps, try any edges, depth changes and high spots on the chart, wrecks and pot flags and before giving up on any spot vary your speed. If you're not getting any bonito, Kings, etc. bites at typical troll speeds, slow it down, alot like 4 kts and you should atleast get into some blues, once you do keep circling back over the spot... could get into some bluefin too as they like slower trolled baits too. Inshore various size Clark spoons 6' behind various weight drails is all you need, throw in some feathers, and small hoos if you like but can't beat the spoons
    Last edited by CaptG; 08-13-2019 at 03:30 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sully127 View Post
    So here's a question...

    Would there be any benefit to running out of the CM canal, troll some spoons through the rips, around the point, and then run up to Hereford's and back at around the 3 mi line? Is there a chance of hooking up with something there, close to home that will let me/us practice in a bit of an easier setting?
    Why not? Shorter trip and good practice.
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  14. #12
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    Sully,
    Tie your trip into other fishing. You may have noticed most offshore tuna trips now include deep dropping for tile, daytime deep dropping for swords. This is all because the summer tuna fishing sucks.
    Even the WM bite has been early AM only.
    Try the same thing: Bassbarn Reef is what 25-30 miles, CM reef 12 miles, Old Grounds 20 miles.
    Try flounder & than move out for the troll. of go to the troll early AM & than come in for flounder.
    From what I'm hearing the flounder bite turns on for a short time & than shuts down. At that point pick up & run the extra 10-15 miles to troll.
    As fast as your boat is you will be on the troll in 30 minutes.
    Don't put all your eggs in 1 basket. Maybe they won't be a mutiny on Calmity?
    Tight Lines!
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  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuna View Post
    Sully,
    Tie your trip into other fishing. You may have noticed most offshore tuna trips now include deep dropping for tile, daytime deep dropping for swords. This is all because the summer tuna fishing sucks.
    Even the WM bite has been early AM only.
    Try the same thing: Bassbarn Reef is what 25-30 miles, CM reef 12 miles, Old Grounds 20 miles.
    Try flounder & than move out for the troll. of go to the troll early AM & than come in for flounder.
    From what I'm hearing the flounder bite turns on for a short time & than shuts down. At that point pick up & run the extra 10-15 miles to troll.
    As fast as your boat is you will be on the troll in 30 minutes.
    Don't put all your eggs in 1 basket. Maybe they won't be a mutiny on Calmity?
    Tight Lines!

    Sad to say, but agree with this one 110%. Whether it's fluke/sea bass/tog, triggers/tog/sea bass, mahi/wahoo/tile or tuna/mahi/ swords, with regulations and fishing the way it is, we are always targeting at least 3 species to put a decent catch together.
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    2 Sunday’s ago. East Lump. 4 king mackerel, 3 Bonito, 1 mahi (20lbs). Multiple other hook ups. I too struggled trolling these areas. That day I had 2 Clark Spoons short with 1 and 3 oz in line sinkers. The kings loved that. Mahi bit on a pink feather on one of the short riggers. Bonito bit on the far riggers 1 a black feather, the other a green machine. I trolled at 6.5-7 knots. I am convinced it was the speed that made a difference. Typically I troll 4-5 knots. That speed works inshore for blues and strippers, but Pelagics are like bullets going through the water so the extra couple of knots isn’t even a challenge for them to catch and eat. Going to try it again this Sunday. We’ll see if my theory works.
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    For one the cedar plug/feather should be 25ft or so back but not in the prop wash, off to the corner of the boat so it's not in the wash and they can see it. Cedar plug should not be the center line if you're trolling 5 lines. Center line should be the WWB line

    If trolling five

    12345

    The cedar would be the 2 or 4 in the corners tight to the transom. I would run the clarks behind them but farther back on planers. Bally's/chains would be wide. I'm only 20ft but I have outriggers and troll 7 lines
    Last edited by Bob ECT; 08-16-2019 at 12:50 AM.
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