Trolling Patterns at Samsonvale
  |  First Published: October 2003

LAKE SAMSONVALE continues to produce good bass at present, although the catch has dropped off considerably since the peak period of mid-winter. For those prepared to experiment, good fish can still be caught and the varying your technique will produce results.

Last month I discussed trolling for deep bass with downriggers, including the types of lures to use and how to set up a downrigger on your boat. This month I’ll take you through the lure patterns to consider and tips for using these techniques.


In a typical setup when trolling a combination of lines with and without downriggers, we have two rods (A and B) at the rear of the boat set on downriggers, with another two (C and D) using deep running lures out either side of the boat. You are trying to get lures down to the depth at which the fish are holding, so consider setting this pattern up as follows:

A – a deeper running lure on a shallower rigger setting, set approx. 20m from the boat

B – a shallow running lure on a deeper rig, set 10m to 15m back

C – a deep running lure (7m+) running 30m back

D – another deep lure 30m+ back or a shallower lure if the bait schools are holding at varying levels

Remember that if you run lures on short lines the lure will run shallower than normal. You will need to take this into account when setting your downrigger depth.


To get your lines down with the downriggers, proceed as follows:

1) Set your lure out at the preferred distance from the boat.

2) Clip the line into the downrigger clip.

3) Lower the downrigger, ensuring you feed line out at the same time. This will require releasing the bail on a spinning reel, or the clutch release on a baitcaster.

4) When the downrigger weight is at the required depth, clamp the downrigger cord in a cleat or other restraint (see last month’s article for downrigger designs).

5) Retrieve sufficient line to create a slight bend in the rod. Here’s where a whippy rod is an advantage, as this will enable some ‘whip’ to set the hooks when a fish strikes and pulls the line away from the tension clip.

Your downrigger lines should be set out first to get them down and out of the way before getting the other lines out. Set out your other lures as you would for normal trolling, sit back, and wait for the strikes. Don’t be surprised at multiple hookups, as the trolling pattern described will maximise your chances when passing through a school of bass.


Running four trolled lines can have its share of problems if not handled correctly. Here are some tips for beginners:

• When a fish strikes, keep the boat moving ahead but reduce speed. This keeps the other lines taut and, in most cases, will allow the fish to be landed without retrieving these lines. A bow-mount electric with autopilot will help tremendously in this situation, as this allows unattended operation. The foot operated controls on these bow mounts also frees up hands for landing the fish.

• Avoid sharp turns as these can cause line tangles. Troll in large arcs to change direction slowly.

• Troll at 2 to 2.5kp/h. Use your fish finder or GPS to measure this and maintain a constant speed.

• Use a style of landing net which allows you to quickly and easily retrieve the fish, remove the lure, and return the fish to the water as soon as possible.

• Fish with a friend. Life is so much easier with someone to help you out with setting out the lines and landing fish, particularly if you have a multiple hookups.

Trolling is not for everyone but, for the one-eyed fishos who refuse to try anything else, the approaches I’ve described have proven successful on the deep holding bass of Lake Samsonvale.

Fish stocking of Lake Samsonvale is conducted by the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association under licence from SEQWater. Application forms for Boating Access permits for the lake can be obtained from local tackle stores, or by contacaing the PRFMA on 0417 742 023 or by email at --e-mail address hidden--

1) Expect multiple hookups when trolling Lake Samsonvale with downriggers. [Photo courtesy of Ross Cobb]

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