The off-season brings the chance to purchase new fishing gear and lures for the upcoming year. The February fishing and outdoor conventions are always enticing us to upgrade. We purchased a new Lowrance HDS Gen3 chartplotter/fishfinder (now with tablet integration!) and a new Lowrance 4G braodband radar.
Another new purchase for this year is a custom trolling bar made by the wonderful guys at Traxstech. Along with mounting our new Cannon Digi-Troll 5 downriggers the bar offers us easy storage space for our planer boards, 8 additional rod holders (allowing us to run 24 rods, when legal) and several always-needed plier and bait holders.
A valuable part of trolling is knowing the temperature and speed of the lure at depth, which can vary greatly from the surface temperature and boat speed. Wasting your time trolling at the wrong temperature or scatter shooting is no fun for anyone. Our new FishHawk X4D gives us clear information by hooking on to the downrigger cable and giveing us accurate readings of the environment the bait. The new setup recently netted several spring coho and a few large brown trout. It is making great returns already!
April brings fish right along the still-cold waters of the Chicago shore. This can make for some really good hauls in a short period of time. We took the boat out for a few hours last weekend to test out some of the new gear and to get a feel of where the fish are schooling.
We trolled along a sharp color change about mile east of Belmont Harbor. Running surface boards with dodger flies, a couple of body baits, 2 Dipsys, a lead core, and a drop weight with a spoon, they all took fish.
We ended up with 10 coho salmon and a lake trout in about 2 hours of fishing. One of the coho was 10+ pounds, a rarity this time of year around Chicago.