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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Has anyone tried trolling for trout in Lake Adger? I know sometimes someone catches a nice Brown while targeting other species but wondering if anyone tried specifically targeting trout, using typical trolling techniques?
Also wondering if it would be best to troll the deep end, down near Frog Rock and on down toward the dam, or just follow the river channel through the "goosenecks"? I think I'm going to give this a try during the summer doldrums and any info would be appreciated.
 

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In the heat of summer, I suspect that the Trout and Smallmouths would both be sitting deep. I think you'd have a good shot at both trolling 25-50 feet deep. Rainbows and Smallmouths behave quite similarly. Largemouth Bass establish a territory and defend it. Smallmouths roam like Trout do. They may sit slightly shallower than the Trout this time of year but presentations ought to be seen by both.
 

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Chilhowee is full of Smallmouths. That one was about 17". They get much bigger in there. They have to be 18" to keep. I've released most of them I've caught there. The only lakes on the Little T that don't have a good Smallmouth population are Cheoah, none, and Calderwood has a scant few. They're too cold but Chilhowee is just right. Chilhowee's Trout population was decimated by the draw-down to fix the dam a few years ago. It's yet to recover to the previous heights. It used to be one of my favorite places to fish. I caught a lot of Rainbows in the 3-6 pound range then. Back in 1999 I netted a 8 pound 14 ounce Smallmouth for a friend. He released it. I kept one about 10 years ago that was close to 6 pounds. It was hooked in the gill and bleeding badly. It inhaled a Berkley Tail Dancer spoon way too deep. It was a single hook spoon with a soft plastic minnow on it that they used to make. I figured I could eat it or a turtle would.

Smallmouths and Rainbows hit a lot of the same lures. Smallmouths will hit bigger plugs but will readily hit small plugs that Rainbows will hit. Both like hoochies. That green one is the same one I showed you a picture of on the other thread. It was fished on a 4 color lead line Okuma reel outfit I put together with Chilhowee in mind. Chilhowee isn't very deep, 65 feet at the dam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So today I made my trout trolling debut. It was a bit of a bust, but I didn't expect big results. I rigged a couple CF rods and paracord on a 35L drybag for a makeshift "driftbag" to slow down. Worked like a charm, slowing me at idle speed to about 1.5 mph.

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I trolled a gold Kastmaster spoon with an inline weight on one side. On the other I dragged a walleye rig-type spinner with a nightcrawler on the hooks. Also tried the one hoochie thing I had. I "charted" a fair amount of fish on the depthfinder suspended at various depths from about 10 or 12 ft down to around 20 ft., but typically only in water that was 30-40 ft deep. When I got in the deeper water, about 50-75 ft (75 is the deepest water near the dam) I found no fish. So I'm guessing what I was charting in the shallower water was warm water fishes, not trout. That's just a guess. I know this lake has trout, but maybe they move up the cooler river, or perhaps they are few in number, or scattered, or I just didn't pass over them. Regardless, I saw no fish on the depthfinder/sonar in the deeper water.
And of course, I have no idea really with this setup what depth I'm at. However...I hung up and lost several rigs in 15 - 18 ft of water, but not over 20 ft. Sooo...I suppose that means they were running around 15 to 18 ft. I may rig up some double snell hooks with lighter wire hooks with the hopes of straightening the hook if snagged, rather than break off and loose the whole rig. I'd speed up a little occasionally, and take it out of gear and coast to slow down, I zigged, and zagged.
Starting out, I added two additional rods with deep diver crankbaits but after a couple of horrendous tangles I gave that up and kept only two rods in the water at a time.
I did catch a little largemouth on the Kastmaster spoon, but that was the sole catch by trolling.

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After about 4 hours I gave it up and started casting Ned Rigs for bass. I picked up two more little largemouths doing that.

So I think I can lay my hands on a little Scottie downrigger this week. If so, I may head to Calderwood in the next week or two. I know there's trout there and cold as it is, I don't suppose I'd have to go too deep. Maybe drag a spoon with a little weight and a plug or something with a nightcrawler rigged behind the downrigger. (Troutgirl? Any advice?)
 

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Fontana has started it's fall release. There's plenty of current in all the downstream lakes. You might need your drag chute going downstream or before they start generating. I don't think you'll need it going upstream once the generating starts.

You can make a flasher/dodger out of spoon. The biggest Little Cleo would be ideal. Take the hook off and put about 2-2.5 feet of line for your hook/s. Now you have a swimming crawler rig, Make a wiggle hoochie with a pair of hooks spread out about 5 inches for a crawler rig. You can run that on a downrigger. In Cheoah, Calderwood, and Chilhowie lakes I use my downrigger to run light wiggle spoons at 3-8 feet. My favorite spoon is the Michigan Stinger Scorpion which is about 2.25". My favorite color is Bumble Bee. It's gold with several black spots. They come with silver or copper backs. I don't think the back matters. The Trout like 'em either way. This color has worked in every Trout lake I fish. Sometimes I fish the larger standard Stinger at Watauga in Bumble Bee. Spoons that mix blue and silver usually work well too. Mooselook makes some little spoons less than 2 inches. Blue and silver has been my favorite color.

The Rapala Ultrulight Shad is perfect for Calderwood. If you want to have a plug out for a big Brown, go with a gold Countdown Rapala. It might look like a baby Bown or Carp...??? Put out plenty of line, 70 or more yards. The big Browns are spooky! Trolling on electric might help too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I have some larger Gator-type spoons I've used to throw for bluefish at Hatteras. They may work as a dodger, some of the smallest ones that is. The larger ones may be too heavy, dunno. Also, one has to wonder why a spoon will act as an attractor/dodger for a crawler rig, seeing as how spoons are used by themselves to troll. Why do they not just hit the now hook-less spoon? (head scratch)

I hope to have some success at Calderwood. Even a small positive outcome stokes the fire to keep at it!
Okay Troutgirl, I really appreciate it. You've given me a wealth of information over several threads. You've been very kind to take your time. Thanks again!
I'll give a report when I get up there. (I suppose I should start another thread)
 

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The best time to fish Calderwood is usually the first 2-3 hours after Cheoah starts generating. Check TVA's Fontana schedule.

As far as spoon colors go, no color is too stupid to catch fish. Forget natural colors! I've caught many fish on Mooselook's white spoon with purple spots. UV spoons and plugs are good. Scents are good. If nothing else it will get the human scent off lures and keep the Trout curious and following.

Rebel's little Crawfish plugs are a good lure at Calderwood. I often fish them deeper with my 4 color lead line outfit. They'll work well shallow too. Use the two smallest sizes.

The big Browns can be anywhere in the lake. Often there's a concentration of Rainbows in the middle of the lake. Once you go past Slickrock Creek, the depth goes up rapidly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I get the impression trolling for trout isn't particularly structure oriented. Seems they can be located anywhere in open water and at various depths in the column. And who knows why on a particular day they are "here" or over "there"? Other than the presence of bait that is. Which is totally foreign to me & any type fishing I've ever done. The only thing I've seen mentioned, and I know, is they are temperature oriented, i.e. like all salmonids, a cold water fish. Which I would think is a non-issue in Cheoh or Calderwood.
 

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Browns hide more than other Trout. In streams they love undercut banks. It must be a behavior they picked up from the ice ages perhaps? When Europe was covered with ice and they were in barren streams on the continental shelf it was maybe to avoid birds and otters? If Rainbows hide it's only because a big Brown or Laker is present and they're scared. All Trout roam, including Browns. They roam looking for the best feeding spot. Smallmouth do the same thing. Largemouths stake out a territory and return to it unless a bigger Largemouth runs them out. I caught the same 4.5 pound Largemouth three times one summer. Twice in the same exact spot and about 20 yards away the other time. It had scars on it that looked like from a bird attack.

The only times temps are an issue below Fontana is the spring fill-up goes really slow and Santeetlah's water is getting warm. The other possibility is in late fall. Fontana has silted-in enough that sometimes the super cold water runs low towards the end of the fall drop-down. Before Fontana got silted-in a bit, it's generation water very seldom went above 50 degrees. I can remember summer days at Calderwood's upper end that were 48. That was last century. The water temp won't be a problem unless it goes above 65.
 

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So.....for what it's worth..... I've learned to "seriously" troll for Trout just recently over the last five years....and my experience is Very different from most other "Trollers"....including Troutgirl's. I have yet to install (or need) a Downrigger....though I've toyed with the idea and am intrigued with the possibilities. I generally run just two lines...and occasionally a third if I'm testing the waters to see what the fish want. Two lines is usually all I can keep track of.

I don't wander aimlessly looking for Trout. I no longer think they're nomads (maybe a few). I have learned to target very specific structures and areas....and can now return to them year after year. The Trout are almost Always there....though they are sometimes less active or more active......or I simply don't have the correct presentation. My Humminbirds are absolutely a Must! The shot below is a stationary "school" of Trout that I could troll through repeatedly last November.

I have honed in on the 15 to 20 inch "holdover" trout.....of which there seems to be a healthy population in All the Mountain Lakes. I like to troll just over their heads....and they seem willing to rise up to 15 ft to strike a lure when they're active. I now focus on the 20-35 ft range depending on the season and weather. I have no trouble reaching them with lead core line and a simple weighted rig.....which can also be trolled shallow to catch more "Stocker" Trout than than I care for..... But....if you're just getting started.....they're a confidence booster.

My Lure sizes have consistently increased every year and on my next trip up.....I will be focused more than ever on Trophy Triploids and Larger Trout with some New Techniques I plan to try. The things I'm doing work equally well on Fontana, Santeetlah. Calderwood, Bear, Wolf and Cedar Cliff.....it does not matter where I fish.....though some lakes are definitely better than others.

In short....it need Not be complicated. Once you spend the time trolling.....you will learn what works for you. You will also learn what works best for your boat. A Gheenoe has very little drag....and even a couple of rods out can change your speed. It's an excellent rig for our Trout lakes and you'll eventually catch plenty of Bass as well. On one lake I fish, there's a gentleman in a small older boat with a 1972 10 Hp Johnson motor. He simply trolls a nightcrawler with two split shot on mono and does well. Once you start catching some fish.....you'll want to learn more. This Forum has Plenty of Info from Many contributors besides myself....it's how I learned.

Best of Luck and Good Fishing to you!....D

218917

218918
 

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Chilhowee is full of Smallmouths. That one was about 17". They get much bigger in there. They have to be 18" to keep. I've released most of them I've caught there. The only lakes on the Little T that don't have a good Smallmouth population are Cheoah, none, and Calderwood has a scant few. They're too cold but Chilhowee is just right. Chilhowee's Trout population was decimated by the draw-down to fix the dam a few years ago. It's yet to recover to the previous heights. It used to be one of my favorite places to fish. I caught a lot of Rainbows in the 3-6 pound range then. Back in 1999 I netted a 8 pound 14 ounce Smallmouth for a friend. He released it. I kept one about 10 years ago that was close to 6 pounds. It was hooked in the gill and bleeding badly. It inhaled a Berkley Tail Dancer spoon way too deep. It was a single hook spoon with a soft plastic minnow on it that they used to make. I figured I could eat it or a turtle would.

Smallmouths and Rainbows hit a lot of the same lures. Smallmouths will hit bigger plugs but will readily hit small plugs that Rainbows will hit. Both like hoochies. That green one is the same one I showed you a picture of on the other thread. It was fished on a 4 color lead line Okuma reel outfit I put together with Chilhowee in mind. Chilhowee isn't very deep, 65 feet at the dam.

I have often wondered about chilowee snallmouth. I’ve never fished it but have fished the other lakes in the area a lot. I might have to make a trip back up there if it has that many in it.
 

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It' a good time of year to fish for Smallmouth in Chilhowee. The lake is full of bait fish and the Smallies will attack them in mass. If they've stocked enough Rainbows, you'll pick up some of them too. The bait fish are about 3". I always liked little plugs that matched their size. When the action gets going, it will be shallow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I don't wander aimlessly looking for Trout. I no longer think they're nomads (maybe a few). I have learned to target very specific structures and areas....and can now return to them year after year. The Trout are almost Always there....though they are sometimes less active or more active......or I simply don't have the correct presentation. My Humminbirds are absolutely a Must! The shot below is a stationary "school" of Trout that I could troll through repeatedly last November.

The things I'm doing work equally well on Fontana, Santeetlah. Calderwood, Bear, Wolf and Cedar Cliff.....it does not matter where I fish.....though some lakes are definitely better than others.

In short....it need Not be complicated. Once you spend the time trolling.....you will learn what works for you. You will also learn what works best for your boat. A Gheenoe has very little drag....and even a couple of rods out can change your speed. It's an excellent rig for our Trout lakes and you'll eventually catch plenty of Bass as well. This Forum has Plenty of Info from Many contributors besides myself....it's how I learned.

Best of Luck and Good Fishing to you!....D
Thanks for the info! The bold above about structure: I know trout in streams key to structure, and not necessarily "hard" structure. Oftentimes stream "structure" is current seams, eddys, the bottom, etc. Anything that breaks or slows the current but next to the current, which is their grocery store.
Specific to trout trolling, in lakes my thought would be, points, drop offs, creek/river channels and humps, perhaps mouths of coves, all underwater and unseen. (That is, with the possible exception of some points that are visible on the shoreline topography and extend underwater.) Anyway, it's hard for me not to think in the context of structure, goes against everything I know about fishing. So, is the "structure" you reference above these things I've listed, or one specifically, or something different?
I've wondered about Bear, Wolf, and Cedar Cliff. I've kayaked all three and spent considerable time kayaking Wolf and to a lesser extent, Bear. I've fished Wolf a little in the past out of a kayak but targeted bass. Also fished Tannassee which is close to Wolf but very small. Wolf or Bear is about 1/2 hr. to 45 minutes closer to me than Fontana/Calderwood area lakes.
Have you had good success at Wolf?
I've been reading older threads and read about your trip early this year to Bear and the great success you had, after some slow fishing on the other lakes mentioned. ( Every time I read a thread I think I need to buy another piece of gear or lure, or another color of something I already have! Lol!)

A line counter setup with some lead core line is on my current wishlist but will have to wait. I want to have some success and know this is something I can/will do often enough to justify the cost. Just sitting and trolling is totally new to me, heck, it may bore me to death. Though again, I've never been bored catching fish! I've spent the last 30 years chasing trout with a flyrod in cold water streams, here, out west, up north...

I bought the Gheenoe a little over a year ago and have targeted the warm water fish I grew up on, having to relearn a lot of stuff, and update some gear. Trolling has always intrigued me, I've just never had the tools to do it with, mainly a boat. The Gheenoe is a fantastic one man boat and a BIG step up from a kayak, yet still small enough for one person to easily load and unload, and two can fish reasonably comfortably from it. It's great in the lowland SC swamps and blackwater rivers where I've spent considerable time this past year. Just have to be aware, it is not a rough water boat. If the weather threatens or there is big boat traffic, I get off the water. With the 9.9 hp at idle speed I'm moving 2.5-3+ mph. I rigged a drift sock from a 3L drybag that slowed me to 1.5 mph. I don't think it will hold up long term, but did determine a small drift sock will work.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And by the way, I changed the title of this thread to more closely match the conversation which is no longer specific to Lake Adger.
 

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If that outboard is a relatively recent model, you may be able to get a module that would give you trolling speed control. Yamaha and Mercury offer them for many models.

I'm going to Watauga tomorrow. I need to get out of the house!
 

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I like that little boat. You have electric. You ought to be able to get whatever speed you want with it. The only thing I would change on that boat is I'd like to have a bottom that is log colored. If a fish glances at it, it a log not a boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I like that little boat. You have electric. You ought to be able to get whatever speed you want with it. The only thing I would change on that boat is I'd like to have a bottom that is log colored. If a fish glances at it, it a log not a boat.
Yes, with the electric motor I can troll at pretty much any slow speed. My rod holders are in the center. I have a front seat I can put in place of that cooler on the front bench. And just face rearward, occasionally reaching behind me to adjust direction. I have a pretty good capacity battery but I’m really unsure at this point how many hours it can be run continuously before unduly draining the battery. I can usually fish most all day and only use about 18-20% but that’s just holding and repositioning, not cruising for miles. It is of course a deep cycle, but still I hate to get them too low. I’ll just have to try it and see. That’s why I wanted to be set up to use the gas motor @ idle. It’s very quiet at idle speed but compared to electric, a huge difference. I often wonder if fish in lakes get acclimated to outboard motor noise, I’m sure they do to some extent, else they’d stay spooked and hidden most of their life. Sort of like deer or turkeys on the side of the road ignoring cars.
 

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If you want to catch a lot of Trout.....you simply cannot do better than the "Gems".....Cedar Cliff (currently closed), Bear, Wolf and Tannassee. ALL are stocked with Trout and have healthy holdover populations of larger Trout. Fontana, Santeetlah, Calderwood and Cheoah will take longer to learn, but, are also great choices. If I were using your Gheenoe.....I would Beeline First for Tannassee. It's Full of Trout.....you'll have it mostly to yourself......there's a long straight shot for trolling and learning how to do it....and you'll surely catch something. You also have the deeper waters by the Dam ....where you'll probably catch most of your fish. Look at NC Trout Stocking Info....and you'll understand why you should go to Tannassee.

There's time to work your way into wiggle hoochies, spoons and other lures as you learn. The One Major Thing I'll suggest....as Troutgirl already said.....is some sort of attractor (Dodger).... 2-4 ft ahead of your lure.....It Works! I grew up stalking Trout on streams in brown/olive clothing....Nothing White!.....and keeping my presentation as "Natural" as possible.....Forget all That! I remember the first time I caught a Brown Trout on Bear Lake on a "Ford Fender".....I was Astonished that this Great Lakes Monstrosity would catch a Trout in the NC Mountains! I've learned Much since that day!

Use a simple beaded trolling sinker....a foot of line .....a Dodger/Attractor of some sort.....2-4 ft of leader/line .....and a Rapala F7 or a Spinner tipped with a nightcrawler on your current gear to get started. It's not exactly what I use, but, will get you started. Shoot for 15-25 ft of water and 1.5 to 2 mph. If you tell me you got Skunked.....I'll assume you've figured things out and now know better than to share this type of information. Your mileage may vary.

Happy Learning (trolling)....D.. The Artisan (Artisanthe)
 
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