Strategy: Trolling Channels for Striped Bass from a Boat #169

Trolling Channels for Striped Bass

Example: Fishing Channels for Stripers
Channels are tricky spots to troll. Not only do you often have super strong currents to deal with but you have boat traffic to contend to. Even though you are fishing, the boats traveling through the channel have total right of way. The burden is on you to move out of the way, even if you are hooked up to a very large fish.  There are a lot of moving parts at hand when fishing a channel, so it’s necessary to have one person who’s sole job is running the boat and watching for traffic and at least one other to work the rods. 

  1. Lure Selection: Due to the complexity of fishing in high traffic areas, I tend to select easy to fish lures that are snag and weed resistant.
    • Tube and worm: Ideal as it is so resistant to snags and catches huge stripers in every body of water
    • Swimbait Rigged Softbait: A good choice if the channel is less than 20’’.
    • 2oz and 3oz Hogy Pro Tail Paddles: Paddle tail baits will swim on their own. They’ll drop quickly if you take the boat out of gear, and with a jig’s hook up position, they are very snag resistant. These lures also come in a wide range of colors to match the hatch.
  2. Work The Signs: Often you’ll see gulls and cormorants drifting with the tide if there is some activity. Terns will circle above if the bait is small.
  3. Wind: Just make sure it’s not too rough to manage the channel.
  4. Tide/Current: If there are extreme tides in the channel you are fishing, the ideal time is 45 minutes on either side of slack tide. The water will be slow enough to fish it!
  5. Light: Also sunrise and sunset hours are ideal for stripers. Also, as importantly, boat traffic is at a minimum during these times.
  6. Depth: Your focus is on bottom dwelling fish. Have gear for the depths you’ll be fishing, say 10’ to 50’.
  7. Approach:
    • Troll with the Tide: Always. It will allow you the most control and the ability to drop on bottom dwellers. It also looks the most natural in strong current since most baitfish have no option but to ride the tide. Your lures, therefore, will look the most natural.
    • Make A Lot of Short Passes: Your best bet is to reel in and run up tide and repeat.
    • Change Lure Colors Often: Since you will be going over the same spot again and again, be sure to change colors. For whatever reason, I have noticed that stripers will often shut down on a color and fire back up on a new color. I’ve had days where I needed to do this very three passes or so.
    • Take a Break: Some channels are more heavily fished than others. Sometimes I’ll take a break to ease off the pressure in a spot I’m working. Repeated engine noise will eventually put down the quality of fishing in a channel. Periodic breaks can extend the good fishing.