Trolling….Not Just For Internet Creeps

Trolling in Maine has been a tradition for many years and I am quite frankly obsessed with this method of fishing.  For one it allows you to see more of a lake or pond and also in my experience this technique catches more fish.  This success is due to the lures, flies or bait staying in the water instead of being picked up and cast.  We also cover a lot more water, which give you many more opportunities to pass over willing fish.  With kids this method is much easier for them and myself.  I cringe with too many swinging hooks and lures flying around the boat so keeping the lines in the water is a major plus for me.  For many of the bigger bodies of water in the state it is almost impossible to cast and retrieve effectively in the depths that we have to go so trolling is the only effective method to target the fish we are looking for.

April salmon on Dan’s boat

Trolling also allows for a piece of a Maine tradition and that is the gift of gab.  Dan is really good at this and by not constantly casting and retrieving we have much more time to devote to this age old tradition.  By that I mean Dan has much more time to come up with great ideas while I listen.  That is probably why my Dad and Dan get along so well.  They both like to talk.  The first time they met I remember I took a nap on the recliner while they went on and on.  No worries for me as I needed the sleep and they apparently needed to talk.  Not sure what they were talking about, but it sure sounded important.

Love trolling in my square stern canoe on smaller ponds

Sometimes trolling is downright effective and when you are trying to reach a point on a lake or pond it may take a while.  Last summer I was on a lake in the northern part of the state with my brother and his boys.  We were using dace (a common bait fish found in a majority of Maine waters) that we caught on that lake behind a small dodger.  A dodger is much like a lure, but without hooks, that flashes in front of your bait to attract your target species.  At this point I was still sewing on each piece of bait and reattaching it to the line instead of using the sliding bait rigs I use now.  These sliding rigs are so easy I even have clients put their own bait on sometimes if the lake is getting too rough and I need to keep the boat straight.  So with the old method after every fish I had to stop and put more bait on by taking the hook off and sewing the bait on and reattaching it to the line.  The fishing was so good we barely went 50 yards before we caught another trout or salmon.  This happened repeatedly so I asked with a straight face to the boys “how are we ever going to reach that cove we wanted to explore if you both keep catching fish and slowing us down?”  I kept up the joke as long as I could and the boys couldn’t tell if I was being serious or not.  As long as we were catching fish I was happy.

Doubled up while trolling

There have also been times when just being out on the water is a challenge.  Dan and I trolled for over 12 hours straight one spring day and that was no small feat due to the bitter cold and wind that forced most others back to the landing.  I remember getting done that day laughing as no other sane individuals would have stayed out that long.  We had landed a nice salmon early, but for the duration of the day we did not have much action.  I think sheer stupidity or stubbornness, I’m not really sure which one kept us out on the water.  We still talk about that day and we will still for many years to come until the next time that we out do ourselves.

Alex was a trooper and got up extra early to start our day. He was happy with the outcome!

Peaceful end to the day


Jon Peterson

About Jon Peterson

I grew up in the small town of Sebec, Maine, wandering in the woods exploring the natural world around me. I had always been fascinated by water and my explorations seemed to lead me to water as that was where I felt most comfortable. Through trial and error, I honed my fishing skills over the years and learned many valuable lessons along the way. In 2014 I realized my dream and became a Registered Maine Guide. For more information: