You just went ahead and put that third downrigger on your boat and now you’re scratching your head wondering how to effectively use it without turning your trolling spread into a seagull’s nest. Trust me…I’ve been there and I’d much rather be catching fish than untangling a mess of cables and fishing line.
So, here’s a dirty downrigger trick that I picked up from the Outdoor Line’s in-house salmon trolling guru, Tom Nelson, that will help make that third downrigger produce fish.
Winter blackmouth and mature king salmon often hug the bottom to avoid predators and that’s where your gear needs to be to catch them. It’s fairly easy to drag the two side downriggers on the bottom and have them fishing effectively, but once you deploy the third downrigger it’s usually got to ride up in the water column 20 to 40 feet to avoid a collosal tangle.
Nelson and trolling veteran Derek Floyd of Reel Class Charters in Sitka, Alaska will run 15 pound downriggers balls on their side downriggers and then much lighter balls on the stern. Hanging a ten pound ball on the stern downrigger, for instance, allows that gear to drag back further than the other two riggers and then then it can be dropped very close to the bottom in back of the other two balls.
I would avoid using a flasher on this setup, but whole herring, strips, plugs, and spoons are all great lures to run off the third or even fourth downrigger in the spread. I’ve fished with Nelson on many occasions and we catch a lot of fish on the third downrigger because it’s getting downtown where it needs to be.
There’s a little trick that will hopefully put a few more king salmon in your boat this summer. I’m gonna be running this trolling spread on my Alaskan charter boat this summer and I’ll let you know how it goes. As of right now it’s been working great!
Give it a try and don’t be afraid to let us know how it works out for you by posting the results in the Outdoor Line forums.
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