TROLLING THE DITCH (inquiring minds want to know!)

I've received several PMs since my posts this past week about trolling the skyway ship channel. Let me start out by saying I am in no way THEE expert and the system I use is in no way THEE only way to troll for grouper in the ditch. However, the system I use I learned from one of the pioneers of trolling the channel, featured back in the early 90's in Florida Sportsman magazine, the late, great Captain Crunch (Bob Fazioli), who I met back then in one of the old AOL fishing chat rooms, of all places! He use to give seminars at local fishing clubs and tackle shops and would pass out a very detailed seven page "clinic" I still have to this day! He personally took me out on his boat, the Captain Crunch, on several occasions (sometimes as a mate to help show his system to others) as he and I became good friends. Believe me, he had specific reasons for every nuance of his system and I wont get into them here. You can modify, adjust, or hone to your own tastes. But here it is in a nut shell:

two 4/0 reels spoiled with 60lb mono (yes, mono, not braid). 10 ft of 130lb coated wire (steelon) ahead of the planer attached to a large BLACK swivel (silver swivel and you'll be losing entire rigs to mackerel!). Double crimp wire at both ends. Off the planer run 25' of 125lb mono leader(doesn't need to be flouro) attached to planer with a heavy duty stainless ball bearing snap swivel (not cheap!) and tie directly to plug at other end. That's it! I troll at 1000rpms, about 4-6knts. The #3 and #4 planers will stagger behind the boat so as not to cross each other and tangle. Set the planers back until you notice them digging, or until they trip. Then reel in five feet or so, reset, and mark the line with a sharpie so you know where to put them back out. Zig zag the channel edge from 30-36ft or so. Adjust line out if going against the current as the added pressure will cause the planers to ride up a few feet. Don't believe the claims that you must troll WITH the current, I catch plenty trolling against it. The key is keeping your bait near the bottom. I would also suggest you have a five gallon bucket next to each rod so you can feed the rig into it and hang the lure on the side when you change locations as that will save you tangles and lost fishing time. That's it. Good luck!
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Replies

  • LMKLMK Posts: 510 Officer
    Thanks for the post - good info and some things I have wondered about, appreciate the help.
  • swordawetswordawet 337 miles WNW of GTCPosts: 621 Officer
    :thumbsup
    "Today's the Day" .... Mel Fisher
  • SofthammerSofthammer Posts: 55 Greenhorn
    Fantastic. Thank you.
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 2,893 Moderator
    Well said, thanks for that. Good stuff for the up coming weeks, a lay down would be nice, it's been honkin'.
  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,009 AG
    Thanks Bill!

    Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk


    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
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  • keenerbenkeenerben Posts: 73 Greenhorn
    Thank you for taking the time to post that. Much appreciated. Tight lines!
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    Why mono over braid? Just curious, I've got reels spooled with both.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 9,219 Moderator
    Why mono over braid? Just curious, I've got reels spooled with both.

    You need the stretch. I did it for years up here using the same set up except no cable for depths from 11 to 30'.
    Difference was a #3 and a # 2 planer. Worked really good , especially using a 3 1/2 drone spoon and a bomber long-A .
    "You'll get your weather"
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    capt louie wrote: »
    You need the stretch. I did it for years up here using the same set up except no cable for depths from 11 to 30'.
    Difference was a #3 and a # 2 planer. Worked really good , especially using a 3 1/2 drone spoon and a bomber long-A .

    Ok thanks. I've got two setups, one Penn battle II with 30lb spiderwire, and one mash up combo with 30lb mono, I wasn't thinking of going up on the strength, as i'll use both to troll for kings this spring. Both are spinning outfits, what I need to do is get a set of levelwind trolling rigs, that i can spool with 60lb mono.

    we've caught Gags in the bay before drifting live pinfish, but i'm sure trolling would increase our catch.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 9,219 Moderator
    what I need to do is get a set of levelwind trolling rigs

    Levelwind isn't necessary. I use tld 20's with 40# nowadays due to plugs that can cover the shallow depths up here.
    6/0 senator or tld 25 should work with the 60# mono ?
    "You'll get your weather"
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    capt louie wrote: »
    Levelwind isn't necessary. I use tld 20's with 40# nowadays due to plugs that can cover the shallow depths up here.
    6/0 senator or tld 25 should work with the 60# mono ?

    I've always wanted a set anyway. Can always use them to catch reef donkeys if I ever get a boat big enough to get out there. I keep telling the wife to think of fishing tackle as shoes! Can't have too many and they all serve a different purpose!
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    I use the "Crunch" method specifically for trolling in Tampa Bay. If I'm up in Citrus County, Bayport, Hernando, etc...I would make the adjustments capt louie suggested, or even switch to deep diving plugs on heavy spinning tackle. But in T-Bay, trolling against a strong tide/current with a #4 planer, there's a tremendous amount of pressure on your tackle which Crunch's system takes into account. A 15lb gag can easily straighten 4x trebles, or rip them from the plug, WITHOUT the aid of non stretch line
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    winderbill wrote: »
    I use the "Crunch" method specifically for trolling in Tampa Bay. If I'm up in Citrus County, Bayport, Hernando, etc...I would make the adjustments capt louie suggested, or even switch to deep diving plugs on heavy spinning tackle. But in T-Bay, trolling against a strong tide/current with a #4 planer, there's a tremendous amount of pressure on your tackle which Crunch's system takes into account. A 15lb gag can easily straighten 4x trebles, or rip them from the plug, WITHOUT the aid of non stretch line

    curious as to what this crunch method is.

    80lb braid, a locked down drag and the strongest hooks and swivels you can get?
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 2,893 Moderator
    Capt. Crunch, AKA Bob Fazioli. He's mentioned in Winder's first post.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    Reel-Lucky wrote: »
    Capt. Crunch, AKA Bob Fazioli. He's mentioned in Winder's first post.

    i know what i did. and it was stupid!
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    curious as to what this crunch method is.

    80lb braid, a locked down drag and the strongest hooks and swivels you can get?

    LOL, hardly...read the original post
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    winderbill wrote: »
    LOL, hardly...read the original post

    i know i know. I read the 2nd paragraph like a dolt but not the first.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • captain johncaptain john Posts: 21 Greenhorn
    That is a very interesting system...
    I have never tried something like that before?
    Is there any video out showing it in actions?
    Thanks,
    John
    Captain John Baehr :driver:
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    floridadiveguy@aol.com :email
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  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    That is a very interesting system...
    I have never tried something like that before?
    Is there any video out showing it in actions?
    Thanks,
    John
    Never thought of shooting a video, difficult since many times I'm fishing solo, but good idea! Since there'll be no spring season this year it'll be until next October before I'm out there giving it a go. You can catch them in the summer, but there's just so many weeds from all the rain runoff and a lot of the fish have long since moved back offshore. The best time for trolling the channel is when the fish are in their migrating transitions, mid Sept-mid Nov and again late March-early May. There are fish there year round, but it's hard to get them to chase a plug in the winter and lack of quality fish in the summer combined with weedy conditions means you'll need a lot of luck and weed through a lot of shorts to get a keeper
  • jay825jay825 Posts: 287 Deckhand
    I will be trying this definitely:fishing
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]A BAD DAY OF FISHING! IS BETTER THAN A DAY HOME WITH THE WIFE!!
  • AZappiaAZappia Posts: 90 Deckhand
    I'm going to be in Anna Maria the 16th - 23rd of September and will have the boat down there.

    Are Gags in the ditch this time of year? If not where can I find them?

    thanks
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    AZappia wrote: »
    I'm going to be in Anna Maria the 16th - 23rd of September and will have the boat down there.

    Are Gags in the ditch this time of year? If not where can I find them?

    thanks

    yes
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,681 Admiral
    I plan on trolling the ditch this fall too. Going to use some plugs and jigs. I'm going to try a planer but i doubt i'll be successful at it, we'll see. I may end up bump trolling pins nose hooked to a jig head to keep them down deep enough.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • AZappiaAZappia Posts: 90 Deckhand
    Awesome. I don't think I have the technical ability to rig em up like Captain Crunch. Know your limits right?

    I have a TLD 30 with 30lb mono and a 100lb topshot and a 5/0 senator with 80lb braid. I could always wind on a heavy topshot of mono. Would you recommend me just staggering some deep diving plugs? Trolling them back and forth the 30-40ft line? Catching Gags on troll has always been something I want to do.
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    AZappia wrote: »
    Awesome. I don't think I have the technical ability to rig em up like Captain Crunch. Know your limits right?

    I have a TLD 30 with 30lb mono and a 100lb topshot and a 5/0 senator with 80lb braid. I could always wind on a heavy topshot of mono. Would you recommend me just staggering some deep diving plugs? Trolling them back and forth the 30-40ft line? Catching Gags on troll has always been something I want to do.

    anything is possible, wouldn't be my first choice. If you're in Anna Maria, I'd troll those plugs right there at Bean Point. That 30 plus foot channel holds good gags, from the pier out to the Gulf. In the ditch, planers are the ticket
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    I plan on trolling the ditch this fall too. Going to use some plugs and jigs. I'm going to try a planer but i doubt i'll be successful at it, we'll see. I may end up bump trolling pins nose hooked to a jig head to keep them down deep enough.

    I've always wanted to try pinners. I know many have success using them. I'm getting too **** lazy in my old age and just find it easier to put the hardware out and just kick back. I've caught some nice gags in SW channel just drifting whatever live baits I could sabiki up. Don't give up on the Crunch method too soon. It's deadly and not hard at all to master. Like anything, it just takes practice and patience
  • AZappiaAZappia Posts: 90 Deckhand
    Thanks for the intell man. I really do appreciate it. I will be sure to post some pictures if when I catch a couple.
  • grey_beardgrey_beard Posts: 28 Greenhorn
    I've been wanting to try trolling for grouper also; however, I can't decide which setup to go with. I would like to avoid having to hand wind the line after the planer so I'm considering either the bridle method or the planer attached to the cleat method. Is a planer rod necessary? or is it primarily for high speed trolling i.e. for wahoo?
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 255 Deckhand
    Got me there. I'm content to handline the last 25' or so. Look, I'm the first to concede that this system is not for everyone. It's basically a lazy man's way to put keeper gags in the box. The challenge lies in getting the lure in the zone and enticing a strike. Once the fish is on, it's simply a slow steady retrieve...no setting the hook and definitely NO pumping!
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