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Small boat trolling in SE Florida

Old 02-15-2017, 10:39 AM
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Default Small boat trolling in SE Florida

Hey everyone, I could use some help since I've had a hard time finding answers while searching on and off for the last couple months.

A little bit of background:

I am a reasonably new boat owner but no stranger to boating. I bought a used Mako 192 from a friend for a hell of a deal and spent the last part of the year getting familiar with the boat, my inlet (Jupiter, FL), and doing some bottom fishing.

I bought a couple trolling rods that were on sale (6 foot MH rods with TLD 25's), set up some skirted ballyhoo last year, and gave trolling my first attempt. It wasn't long before I realized I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to trolling.

Current boat config:

Fishmaster T top with 4 rod holders
2 gunwale angled rod holders
Thinking about adding a removable rod holder in front of the engine for a shotgun rod

No issues adding more rod holders as needed, but current + planned I can handle 3 rods on the deck. Not sure if T top rod holders are really usable for trolling?

Now to the point:

I realize I'm going to need a few more rods to troll effectively. How would you guys recommend setting that up on a boat this size? I'm thinking 3 or 5 rods. Am I wasting my time trolling with 3 or can it be done effectively to start out?

Target species are Wahoo, Dolphin, Blackfin Tuna. Where should I be trolling? My best guess was following the drop off in about 150' of water.

What should I be pulling? There seems to be about a million different variations of every specific type of lure at x distance with downriggers/planers/etc. I'm not looking for perfect optimal setup right now, just something to get started and hopefully catch a few fish this year.

Any other resources you can point me to (threads/books/charter captains in the area) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:30 AM
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Take Captain Mike's Angler Management on the water seminar. You will get up to speed quickly.

LT
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:40 AM
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Go to the pakula website and read his tutorials or whatever he calls it. It's a book he wrote and he out it online. Then don't over think this. Buy some black bart minis or similar lures and get some pre rigged ballyhoo (an islander over one or two is a good idea) and pull them in 100' and deeper at 5-8 knots. Small feathers further back will have you sick of reelling in the little tunas.
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Anyhoo View Post
Take Captain Mike's Angler Management on the water seminar. You will get up to speed quickly.

LT
That looks awesome, but due to some crazy coincidence that's the exact day we leave for our honeymoon

Guess I will have to catch it next year.
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:46 AM
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https://www.amazon.com/Williamson-TC...lliamson+lures

I've caught tons of blackfin and mahi on these, and they're good quality and inexpensive. Troll one of those, one cedar plug, a skirted or naked ballyhoo, and then a diving lure of your choice like an X-rap or Bomber 30.

You will be able to catch all of your target species on either of these. The wahoo will prefer the diving plug, and the tuna and mahi will eat any of them. I drop them back 30-75 yards, and troll anywhere from 4-7 knots. The diving plug will only troll up to a certain speed, that will be your limiting factor. Don't worry about downriggers or planers just yet.

The TLDs you bought are a great start. Use 40lb hi-vis line so it's easier to track your baits. Start around the reef and troll through out to several hundred feet. Look for color breaks in the water (green to blue changes), weedlines and birds. I only troll the Atlantic a few times a year when I make Keys trips, but I have been very successful using the techniques described, and it's not too hard to figure out.

Keep a couple spinning rods ready with a bucktail jig and light leader and circle hook for pitching to dolphin, Cobia, or sails on the surface. Set the drags to 5-7lbs at strike, put your clicker on and crack a beer open. Nothing like seeing your rod double over and hearing the drag burning.

Also, make sure to keep your boat in gear while fighting fish on the troll. More often than not it wears a large hole in their lip, and if you get any slack in the line, your lure will fall right out. Trust me, I've done it and it sucks. If you're fishing alone, wear your kill lanyard if fighting a fish from the stern while in gear. You don't want to fall off and watch your boat idling away from you. Tight lines, you're in a great area.

Also take those seminars and read as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Lots of good resources here. Most will tell you tell you to be careful navigating your inlet. Are you experienced running in and out of it during different tides and winds?
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:47 AM
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Mike has a great seminar and you will learn a lot. However, here are a couple of tips. You need to get some outriggers. This will allow you to improve your spread. You can easily troll six maybe seven baits without an issue. As far as pulling, that will vary like crazy. You can't go wrong with ballyhoo, naked or skirted. You can mix it up with some lures too and drag something deep while you troll. My bigger dolphin last year were on my shotgun lure about 150 yards behind the boat. While I'm no expert, I have been doing this for a long time. Let me know if you need additional help. If you are willing to drive down to Broward, I'll show you how to easily rig ballyhoo. I'll also show you how to make the rigs yourself. All of this for $Free.95.
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_gator View Post
https://www.amazon.com/Williamson-TC...lliamson+lures

I've caught tons of blackfin and mahi on these, and they're good quality and inexpensive. Troll one of those, one cedar plug, a skirted or naked ballyhoo, and then a diving lure of your choice like an X-rap or Bomber 30.

You will be able to catch all of your target species on either of these. The wahoo will prefer the diving plug, and the tuna and mahi will eat any of them. I drop them back 30-75 yards, and troll anywhere from 4-7 knots. The diving plug will only troll up to a certain speed, that will be your limiting factor. Don't worry about downriggers or planers just yet.

The TLDs you bought are a great start. Use 40lb hi-vis line so it's easier to track your baits. Start around the reef and troll through out to several hundred feet. Look for color breaks in the water (green to blue changes), weedlines and birds. I only troll the Atlantic a few times a year when I make Keys trips, but I have been very successful using the techniques described, and it's not too hard to figure out.

Keep a couple spinning rods ready with a bucktail jig and light leader and circle hook for pitching to dolphin, Cobia, or sails on the surface. Set the drags to 5-7lbs at strike, put your clicker on and crack a beer open. Nothing like seeing your rod double over and the drag burning.

Also, make sure to keep your boat in gear while fighting fish on the troll. More often than not it wears a large hole in their lip, and if you get any slack in the line, your lure will fall right out. Trust me, I've done it and it sucks. If you're fishing alone, wear your kill lanyard if fighting a fish from the stern while in gear. You don't want to fall off and watch your boat idling away from you. Tight lines, you're in a great are.

Also take those seminars and read as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Lpts of good resources here. Most will tell you tell you to be careful navigating your inlet. Are you experienced running in and out of it during different tides and winds?
Thanks for the advice. I have 40lb hi vis momoi diamond on both.

I know the inlet decently. I know the when's, when not to's. It's a pretty finicky inlet though and I worry about needing to go in during a bad time. My my usual plan involves me being halfway between LWI and Jupiter Inlet so I can run back in via LWI if I need to. It's deep and wide and a cakewalk compared to Jupiter when it's snotty out.

I'm pretty conservative with weather so if the forecast reads more than 2's I stay in, or if it is swelly (4 foot swells @ 12s low wind) I leave out of LWI. Jupiter and swells at low tide can be nasty, which I learned the hard way.

Originally Posted by doublhook View Post
Mike has a great seminar and you will learn a lot. However, here are a couple of tips. You need to get some outriggers. This will allow you to improve your spread. You can easily troll six maybe seven baits without an issue. As far as pulling, that will vary like crazy. You can't go wrong with ballyhoo, naked or skirted. You can mix it up with some lures too and drag something deep while you troll. My bigger dolphin last year were on my shotgun lure about 150 yards behind the boat. While I'm no expert, I have been doing this for a long time. Let me know if you need additional help. If you are willing to drive down to Broward, I'll show you how to easily rig ballyhoo. I'll also show you how to make the rigs yourself. All of this for $Free.95.
Thanks for the offer! Might have to take you up on that as summer rolls around.

I'm kinda shying away from outriggers as it looks a little daunting. Do you think it is doable to manage all that as a beginner (with an extra hand or two on board)? I've been looking into how I might mount outriggers to my t top, but I haven't found anything that looks too promising.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:44 PM
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If you are going to troll, don't be intimidated by outriggers. I consider it a must. When you become a badass over time, then we'll talk center rigger. Again, I'll be more than happy to show you my set up if you can drive down.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:52 PM
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If you cannot hit the seminar-look into hiring e-money to come out on your boat and show you. Look him up on Florida Sportsman. Licensed captain and knows his stuff.

All good advice above. I am partial to chuggers and rattlejets if just trolling artificials. Victory Lures has a great dolphin 6 packs of chuggers. I have tried a bunch of different ones, but like theirs the best. Rattlejets in blue white and green will catch dolphin and tuna. Kingfish will hit them as well, but with only mono, catch rate is not very high.

If going after tuna, best lures I have found are from draggin eyes. single and chains are awesome.

I have outriggers, but often just fish 4 lines and do not use them. If you are by yourself, I wouldn't bother with them. Too hard to clear them all by yourself. My spread is usually a small rattlejet way back, a chugger on the port side, a rattlejet on the starboard side and a chugger down the middle. Yu can also add a diving lure down the middle and you have 5 baits.

Find the color change, birds or weedline. If you find a weed line, make sure it has bait on it. If not bait, keep moving.

LT
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:46 AM
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Tyler, I couldn't attach a picture in the msg I sent you; but here is a pic of my SeaBoss before I got rid of the worthless fiberglass outriggers and went to aluminum. the second pic is current setup in stowed position.

Steve
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:32 AM
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I'm not a seasoned veteran but can tell you what I've learned so far. First is that you really don't need outriggers. It can certainly be a plus to get more lines out and spread them out but unless you have a large enough crew to handle more, 3 or 4 lines out should be fine. Just keep your outside lines farther back and your inside lines closer in. It helps keep them from tangling. Another option is to run at least one of your inside lines on a planer or use flatline clips or rubber bands to keep those lines down.

As far as baits goes, what I have learned so far is to have a variety because it seems to be different every time. Some concave shaped heads, some bullet shaped heads, some sea witch or ilander over a ballyhoo, naked ballyhoo, small tuna feathers etc. Have a couple colors and you are good.

Next is where to troll. Blind trolling isn't the best tactic but sometimes I can't figure anything else out so I just go. We will usually at least catch a bonita so that goes in the box for bait. Otherwise, the obvious is look for weeds but don't troll right on top of them. Any color or texture change on the water is good, especially if it is a defined rip. Birds are always good too. Anything that looks different is better than just trolling along.

As with any kind of fishing I like to start with a plan and then let the conditions, the fish, or lack thereof tell me if I need to make an adjustment. Since I'm fairly new, I started with a couple of regular dolphin type lures and pulled them. Then added some smaller tuna lures. Then pulled some ballyhoo, then put them behind a lure. And just pay attention to what happens. Try different speeds. Do a zig zag pattern. Remember down here the reefs are what creates action so you really don't have to go out too far unless you want to. Note the depth that you are catching fish and mark them, especially if you catch more than one. Might be a reef there worth looking at. Try baits farther back, or closer in. Don't be afraid of way back.

Start simple and go from there.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Anyhoo View Post
If you cannot hit the seminar-look into hiring e-money to come out on your boat and show you. Look him up on Florida Sportsman. Licensed captain and knows his stuff.

All good advice above. I am partial to chuggers and rattlejets if just trolling artificials. Victory Lures has a great dolphin 6 packs of chuggers. I have tried a bunch of different ones, but like theirs the best. Rattlejets in blue white and green will catch dolphin and tuna. Kingfish will hit them as well, but with only mono, catch rate is not very high.

If going after tuna, best lures I have found are from draggin eyes. single and chains are awesome.

I have outriggers, but often just fish 4 lines and do not use them. If you are by yourself, I wouldn't bother with them. Too hard to clear them all by yourself. My spread is usually a small rattlejet way back, a chugger on the port side, a rattlejet on the starboard side and a chugger down the middle. Yu can also add a diving lure down the middle and you have 5 baits.

Find the color change, birds or weedline. If you find a weed line, make sure it has bait on it. If not bait, keep moving.

LT
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:50 AM
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George Poveromo has tons of great articles on his website archived over years. Good stuff. Also Youtube has everything.
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Old 02-16-2017, 06:03 AM
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You can troll effectively with just a few rods. Two simple set ups...

2 x rap 30's, one about 50 feet back, the other about 125 feet back.

3 rods, 1 on each corner with a feather, ilander or ballyhoo, and one way way back with something else like a tuna plug or spoon.

When solo you don't want to mess with lots of rods. And it's hard to beat trolling the edge from Lake Worth Inlet to Jupiter. Zig zag from 100 to 150.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:30 AM
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Keep your lines staggered , so when in turns they don't get tangled . Outriggers will give you a larger bait presentation .

http://www.georgepoveromo.com/content.php?pid=56

http://www.sportfishingmag.com/boats...shore-trolling

http://www.thehulltruth.com/sportfis...n-sails.html#b
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:44 AM
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It's pretty simple man, people love to over-complicate this.

3 rod set up. A rod holder in the center would be great for this (like you mentioned)

Make sure they are at different distances, Short/Mid/Long...will prevent tangles and also cover different areas

Find birds, weed lines, debris or a nice rip in the water...

/I've caught plenty of tuna and mahi with this setup...outriggers are nice but a not a necessity. Once you get the hang of 3, then you add another rod and then another if you have the room. Small boat makes it hard to put too many rods without outriggers.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by danmanswag View Post
It's pretty simple man, people love to over-complicate this.

3 rod set up. A rod holder in the center would be great for this (like you mentioned)

Make sure they are at different distances, Short/Mid/Long...will prevent tangles and also cover different areas

Find birds, weed lines, debris or a nice rip in the water...

/I've caught plenty of tuna and mahi with this setup...outriggers are nice but a not a necessity. Once you get the hang of 3, then you add another rod and then another if you have the room. Small boat makes it hard to put too many rods without outriggers.
x2 on this. keep it simple.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by wtractor View Post
x2 on this. keep it simple.
x3 keep it simple and build on it when you gain confidence.

op
ill troll my way way back lure off the t top rod holders. just keep the drag light so you can get it out of the rod holder.
use what you got!

once you get a hang of trolling 3 or 4 lines, outriggers should be your next purchase.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:56 AM
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x4 on keeping it simple. Work on your trolling game with 3-4 rods first keeping them staggered. Make sure your lures are running correctly - chugging or running subsurface - not flopping on surface or spinning. Once you find some success you can add outriggers later as you don't want to over complicate things. You may get 2-foot-asitits after you get good at it and want to upgrade anyways! You can always add some rod riggers/outrodders to give your spread some more width, but should definitely get outriggers down the road.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:30 AM
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Pbpilot1025, the pics I posted were right after I got the outriggers. I too am a lifetime boater/fisherman, but new to the ocean environment. There is SO MUCH to learn; the fish, the ocean, the setup, and on and on. Right now I am fishing alone most of the time so only running three lines at most. Boy did I have some tangled line messes recently. Learning how to stagger lines, etc takes a bit of learning. I found out quickly I really wasn't ready for outriggers after getting the cheap fiberglass ones as an experiment (lost money, they are worthless). Then I lucked out and ran into a guy who had just bought a new boat that came equipped with outriggers. He sold me his complete setup (poles, rigging & mounts) for less than half what they cost new. Boy what a difference it made. No more line messes so far (fingers crossed). I am only using them with three of the four sections extended while I continue to learn and get familiar with what I'm doing. No, I didn't “need” outriggers yet; but hey, what is a center console with T-top and no outriggers. Especially when the price is right.
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