Troll ’em up
  |  First Published: April 2011

This month is probably your last chance for the season to tangle with the warm water speedsters that turn up every year.

The warm current pushes down a vast supply of food that hits the coast and flows into our bays and harbours and the action at times can be red hot as surface predators take advantage, ripping into bait schools.

Birds can be spotted diving and feeding and this is the sign that anglers look for.

Sydney has four main species of pelagic fish that hang along our coast and push into our estuaries.

Number one with all anglers would be the yellowtail kingfish. Many hours are spent targeting kingies around our waterways.

The second likely candidate is the Australian salmon and what a top sport fish they are on light tackle.

Bonito are small, toothed tuna and this season we have seen more bonnies than I can remember.

Tailor can turn up at any time of year and feeding on the bait schools over Summer and hunt down larger baits in Winter.

These four are our main smaller pelagics that all anglers frequently tangle with around Sydney over much of the year.

I start many days on the water by trolling because we get to cover a great area in search of fish. I call this prospecting and you never know when the hook up might come.

Due to tides, weather or time of day and location, you will not find action on the surface every day but by trolling we often have found good numbers of all the above species.

Over the past 15 years of guiding on Botany Bay and along the coast I have used many lures but keep falling back to the old favourites that produce over and over.

Rapala Magnum CD 7s and CD 9s are tough, troll fast and produce the goods. These little lures have been around for 20 years unchanged and are always in the tackle box.


With a lot of help from Shimano I have now designed Scotty Lyons Bullet Lures – minnow styles that are tough, simple to use and made for trolling. They come in six colours and three sizes, the 22, 222 and the 243.

The 22 is suited for smaller pelagics like tailor, kings, bonito and salmon; the 222 suits larger kingfish, mahi mahi, tuna, queenfish, trevally and small mackerel and the 243 is for larger species and I have had good results on big Mackerel around Weipa.

These Bullet lures troll fast. This is the most important thing to look for when buying trolling lures because all the species we have mentioned are fast predators, not ambush feeders, so trolling fast will bring results.

Small skirted lures like McGoos also have provided me with good results over the years and have hooked quite a few good kings.

Try a spread of bibbed lures on each side and run a skirt straight down the centre; it will work the surface while the bibbed lures swim deep, giving you a good mix.

Run your two bibbed lures back about 30m and keep the skirt in closer at 15m and troll at 6 knots. This is my spread when trolling along the coast on big straight runs.

In Botany Bay I normally just run two bibbed lures back around 30m because most trolling runs in the Bay are short.

When trolling, always look for birds feeding, a sign that fish may be feeding below. Troll in large circles or curving runs to avoid running over feeding fish, which will put them down and off the bite.

I troll structure most of the time.

This can be headlands, shorelines, sandy drop-offs, channel markers and around shallow reefs. Anywhere you think that bait may be holding is worth a shot when trolling.

So next time you’re out on the water, why not spend a few hours trolling – it works for me.

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