lot has been written about trolling lures for trout. But little
is penned about the under utilized shallows of a lake. Fly fishermen
know about it - so why do so few lure trollers take advantage
of the shallows?
shallow margin of a lake is often where all the food is located.
This is because the light penetrates the water easier in the
shallower water, which is essential for aquatic weed growth.
This thriving weed provides food and shelter for insects and
small forage fish. So it makes sense for larger fish, such as
trout, to hang about these areas during times of hunger or opportunity.
Of course, midday on a sunny, dead - calm day nudging 40oC is
not the time to be looking in shallow water for trout that much
prefer water temperatures below 19 - 20oC. These are the days
of down rigging or deep bait fishing.
You need to pick your times carefully for shallow water trout
fishing. More often than not, these 'windows' of opportunity
last only a few hours during first and last light. You must
make the most of your time on the water by getting in the water
Best times of the year normally coincide with the cooler months,
but rules are meant to be broken!
During summer, dawn is when the water temperature is coolest,
so it makes sense to get out of bed early - the trout do!
Some of the best fishing can be had after a warm night when
there are mudeye shucks all over the tree stumps. This is a
good indication there has been a mudeye hatch recently and the
trout might still be in the shallows hunting about for an easy
Now many fly fishing enthusiasts will say the trout will be
focussed totally on mudeye and will never touch a lure. This
is not always the case. Trout can be just as much opportunistic
as well as selective as far as feeding goes and will quite often
slash at a lure that passes close by - no matter what they are
If a hungry fish is in the shallows searching for mudeye and
a small fish happens by, he will not pass it up!
time of year when it's a hellava lot harder to drag yourself
out of a nice warm bed and onto a freezing cold lake, the trout
can bite all day in the shallows. This can lead to fishing 'gentlemen's
hours' as some people refer to it. Basically, if the trout feel
safe enough, they'll stay in the shallow water and feed all
day. A good day to concentrate your trolling efforts in shallow
water would be cool and overcast with a slight breeze.
of the Shallows
Many unseen obstacles such as weed growth and fallen timber
can hamper trolling in the shallows. But this is what the fish
like, so get your lures amongst it!
Weed can be the worst obstacle because your sounder might be
showing 3 meters of depth, and then all of a sudden you are
onto a clump of weed stretching all the way to the surface!
Some times the first trolling run around a lake or along a new
shore can be a bit frustrating as far as stopping to remove
weeds or unsnag lures. Make a mental note where these weed beds
are and for the next pass take it out a few meters so your lures
run as close to the weeds as possible without fouling.
Some lakes are notorious for underwater obstacles of the worst
kind such as rocks and logs. These can be particularly damaging
to both boat and wallet, so if you're unsure, keep clear.
Trolling speeds are pretty much dictated by the lures you are
using. Run the lure beside the boat with at least 2 meters of
line out and watch how it swims while varying the speed of the
motor. This is the best way to get an idea of how fast you should
be moving while dragging along specific lures.
A lot of lures have a fairly broad speed range at which they
will work. Try different speeds for the same lure. For example,
try trolling extra slow so the lure is just wobbling or speed
up and move your rod tip erratically so the lure looks like
a baitfish that is desperately trying to avoid capture.
Trolling different styles of lure can narrow the effective speed
range that you can troll. For example, a Tassie devil works
well at a brisk walk whereas some minnow lures will 'loop out'
at this pace. Therefore, if you have a minnow lure out the back
alongside a Tassie devil, you may need to allow for this by
adjusting your trolling speed to one that is suitable for both
Best lures for trolling the shallows are, of course, shallow
divers. As a rough guide, lures that dive deep have larger surface
area on their 'bibs'. Now there is no need to hunt about for
a calculator when buying or sorting through lures. As you gain
experience, you will be able to tell approximately what depth
lures dive to just by looking at them!
A few good shallow-diving lures to grab next time you're going
to unload at a tackle shop are; gold and, silver wobblers (these
are great lures for super - shallow work), Rapala 3, 5 and 7cm
range, Knoll's native minnow, Attack minnow, Merlins, Downunder
Min Mins, Tassie Devils and Lofty's Cobras.
Both Tassie Devil and Lofty's Cobras make ultra small 5-gram
lures that can run in the shallowest of water. These should
be run back behind the boat at least 30 meters if you intend
to use them in water 2 meters or less.
The smallest of these runs very shallow indeed and are probably
best suited to around 3 meters unless you are trolling with
an electric motor.
Most trout trollers prefer 2-3kg breaking strain lines, as this
not only provides good sport, but the least restriction for
Braided lines give fantastic 'feel' when trolling. When trolling
using these 'super lines', it is possible to pick up a piece
of weed no larger than a 5C piece stuck to your lure - this
is simply not possible with monofilament lines and shallow running
But braided lines give terrible tangles when lures collide or
tumble. So if you're prone to turning tightly or run more than
2 lures out of a small boat, I'd suggest trolling with monofilament
When trolling shallow running lures, rods used should be a light
action so they have a gentle bend in them. If your rod is too
stiff, there is the added chance of hooks pulling from fish,
less 'feel' when trolling and more chance of line wrapping around
the rod tip. The most comfortable shallow water trolling rods
are around 2-3kg. Both bait casters and 'egg-beater' style reels
are fine and should be matched to the rod used - ie: reels that
hold around 100- 200m of 2 - 3 kg line.
There are many arguments for both. I recently spoke to well
known Werribee fisherman, John Didge about trolling lake Modewarre
near Moriac. He has had better success trolling there using
his electric motor, whereas I have had good success using petrol.
The lake margins of Modewarre are around 2 - 3 meters and can
yield some fantastic shallow water trolling this time of year.
There is no doubting the advantage of stealth the electric has
over the petrol. If you intend to cast lures, or troll water
shallower than 3 meters, an electric has a much quieter approach
than petrol driven motors.
Lakes for Shallow Water Trolling
Victoria is blessed with many lakes to choose from and most
of them can offer some spectacular shallow water trolling for
Some better-known ones are Lake Modewarre
near Geelong and Winchelsea. Close to Melbourne is the popular
Lake Eildon. Lake
Toolondo and Rocklands reservoir in the west are renowned
for their large trout in the shallows. Deep Lake near Derrinallum
and Elingamite near Cobden are shallow lakes that offer some
big fish during cold months. Cairn
Curran reservoir near Malden has some fantastic shallow
water trolling during winter. Lake
Hume near Albury doesn't put out a lot of fish, but the
trout that come out of here can be monsters. Pykes Creek reservoir
near Ballan has some nice grassy flats with little underwater
obstructions, which makes for some good shallow water trout
next time you head for a trout trolling session, don't discount
the fishing that can be had dragging some shallow divers in
close. It can be well worth your while!