Trolling Boulders and Reefs for Striped Bass
Example: Fishing Reefs and Boulder Fields
There are a few things to look at here. For starters, is it deep enough to troll over? If yes, make sure you are fishing with light enough lures or short enough lines where you will avoid snagging the bottom.
- Lure Selection: If there is a lot to snag in the area, I will always use lures that are relatively slow-sinking and prefer those with the fewest treble hooks as possible.
- Tube and Worm: This method is ideal as it is so resistant to snags.
- Swimbait Rigged Softbait: A good choice if you are fishing a reef which has s surface contour that changes depth frequently, especially if it does so drastically, i.e.; from 20 to 10 feet below the surface, would be the unweighted softbaits on lead-core are the most under utilized lure for trolling for stripers. There are so many color choices available, too. My favorites around reefs and rocks are amber and pink. My hogy of choice is the Hogy Original with 10/0 unweighted soft bait.
- Large Slider: A large slider on lead core looks so much like a pogie, herring or scup that has lost it’s way.
- Work The Tells: Like trolling the shoreline beach, there are often very few above water tells on a reef. Follow the same textbook play. Eye glued to the finder.
- Wind: Definitely fish on all sides of the structure, but I find the down wind side to be most productive if current is not a huge factor
- Tide/Current: If it’s a shallow water reef, dead high tide is a surprisingly good time to troll her. You’ll catch fewer fish, but have the opportunity for a big fish. That said, this area is hottest during peak tides.
- Light: Sunrise and sunset hours are ideal for shallow water reefs but you are in play all day in depths over 25’ or if you are fishing low light, storming conditions.
- Depth: Your focus is on bottom dwelling fish. Have gear for the depths you’ll be fishing, say 10’ to 50’.
- Reef If current is a factor, then troll on the up-tide side of the structure and let your lures sweep over the structure as you pass it. It’s a very long area, you can implement an s-pattern to weave your lures in front, over and down tide of the reef. If no love, try all the possible angles.
- Mussel Beds: Hit the bed from all angles.
- Deeper Water Drop Off– No rips: Troll an S-Pattern a long a drop off. Periodically take your boat out of gear.
- Grassy Beds: Often stripers will cruise over the tops of grassy beds, but this type of structure is very easy to snag. For that reason, I like to troll along the edges.