How To: Open Water Trolling for Bluefish with Swimming Plugs

Normally, the Hooter is an end-of-summer fishing spot, known for it’s wide range of species from striped bass to scup. But, with recent reports of bonito making their way into the well-known area, Capt. Mike Hogan and the Salty Cape crew decided to make a mid-summer run to the popular grounds.

The Hooter, which is a bit south of the eastern portion of Martha’s Vineyard, is home to a wide variety of species, including sea bass and bluefish, which the Salty crew was able to catch while trolling the 5-inch Hogy Charter Grade Slider on lead-core line.

“There’s a deep side to the rip and a shallow side to the rip,” Capt. Mike said as he let out all but one color of his lead-core line. “The Hooter is a cool spot because you never know what you’re going to catch.”

Using lead-core over mono or braid allows you to fish various depths of the water column depending on how much line you let out. For example, with striped bass schooled up on the bottom, you’d want to troll with more line at a slower pace. With bluefish scattered throughout the water column, you can get away with a shorter amount of line while trolling at a faster pace.

“What I like about this lip-less lure paired with leadcore line is that I can put that lure anywhere in the water column that I want to based on how much line I have,” Capt. Hogan said. “For example, if I go over the fish finder and mark a nice fish on the bottom, I can take the boat out of gear and these lures are going to sink down with the leadcore.”

When the boat is put back in gear, they’ll emerge off the bottom. Compared to a traditional, billed lure-styled plug, when you take the boat out of gear, the opposite will happen and they will swim back to the top, where as, when the boat is in gear, they’ll dive. (see graphic below)

While fishing in deeper water, say on the deeper side of the rip at the Hooter, you’ll want to let out as much lead core as you can get away with. It’s absolutely worth the effort to mess around with the line length and the boat speed to figure out where you want your lure to swim in the water column, and what species you’re targeting!

Check out the full-length video to see how Capt. Mike and the Salty Crew made out!

Gear List

Rod: Offshore Angler 20 - 40lb Trolling Rod

Reel: Diawa Saltist Conventional

Line: Cortland LC-13

Leader: 40lb Fluorocarbon

Hooter Trolling Bluefish


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