Leaves are beginning to lose their green, Canada geese are arriving from their summer homes, and the Chesapeake Bay Stripers are on the feed. For this blog, let’s talk light-tackle trolling, particularly at the mouths of rivers and over live bottom in shallower waters (12-25 feet).
For trolling light tackle, you could go with one of our Cove Chesapeake Series Rods, either the 6'0" MH or perhaps a better choice is the little brother—Tackle Cove’s lighter, 5'6" MH trollers that are a little easier to handle. Or you can try a spin outfit in the 20-30 pound range – that would work as well. For your mainline, Sufix Superior Hi-Vis 30 lb. test would be about right, and your leaders need not be any heavier than 40 to 50 lbs.
As for terminal tackle, you can’t beat making the connection using ball bearing swivels to ensure your tandem bucktails or swim baits run true and won’t bind. Many pros and sharpies use Billfisher’s BBS4s.
For the next few weeks you probably want to swap out your hoses and smaller spoons that worked so well this summer for Tsunamis (4- to 6 inches) and bucktails (2-4 ounces). That said, don’t stow all your spoons just yet. Just bump up to a little bit larger size to match bunker around, say Tony Acetta Pet 15s and 17s or Drone #2 or # 3 ½ spoons behind #1, #2 or #3 planers to cover different water depths.
Point here being is that for the next couple weeks - barring any prolonged cold snap - schoolie Rockfish convene around the tributaries to feed on the gathering bait. On the Rockfish menu are young menhaden. Though anchovies and silversides are around, they don’t pack the protein Rock need as the water temps drop. Find a nice chunk of oysters or shell bottom, use your GPS/Sounder to work the depth changes (they’ll be subtle, relatively) and pay close attention to the tides. And when you hook up, not only should you mark that spot but take note of at what point during the tide cycle the Rockfish are biting best. That way, you can come back the next day or day after and expect similar action.
Til then, Rig Right, Fish Hard.
Capt. Chris Dollar
Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America