As the water chills out this month, LTT (light tackle trolling) is a tactic many anglers in search of schoolie stripers should consider. Especially when you aren’t 100-percent sure where the fish are or you’re in an unfamiliar area and you need to cover some water, give this method a shot.
1. With jigging or relatively light tackle gear, tie on a half- or three-quarter-ounce jighead and dress it with a paddle-tail style soft plastic of four or five inches in length. White, pearl, chartreuse, and yellow are all good colors to try.
2. Set up three or four lines like this (more lines means more possibility of strikes but more possibility of tangles), and pick a course. Deploy the lines by casting them out as far as possible, then letting out another 20 or 30 yards of line; the biggest mistake many people make is trolling these light lures (which remain very close to the surface) too close to the boat.
3. Set boat speed between three and four mph (when it gets really cold out, back it off to 2.5 to three mph). Target areas of less than 10 feet of water, with structure or variations in depth. As a general rule, less is more in this case – often the best fall LTT catches will come from very shallow water, where the drop-off may be from just three or four feet of water to five or six feet of water.
BONUS TIP: Thus far this fall there have been small schools of rockfish in the 17- to 22-inch class meandering around the tributary mouths up and down the Chesapeake (slightly deeper than noted above; they've been in 12- to 14-feet recently). They often come up to the surface to chase peanut bunker for a minute or two, the disappear. This makes casting for the fish quite difficult, since the schools have been going back down after very brief attack runs - when you spot working birds and run over, the action is usually over before you can get there. This is a prime situation for fall LTT. Stop running to the birds, and instead start trolling through the areas where you've seen them recently.