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Home Fishing Tips / Articles Stripers JP Rig - Anchovy Slow Trolling

JP Rig - Anchovy Slow Trolling

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Date Received: January 5, 2004 - Kent Jorgensen, Twin Falls, Idaho

This is my first post on this site - I don't really know why I haven't done it before this - I guess it's because as a kid my Grand Pa would say that if you tell anyone about your secret fishing hole then it's not a secret and pretty soon you will not have a fishing hole. I also have a problem with talking about myself and fishing because it seems like bragging - another thing that Grand Pa warned against. Oh well here goes.

Since so many have been willing to share their "secret fishing hole methods" I have felt more than a little guilty about just enjoying the stories and taking the information while not putting anything back. So here goes, I hope you will enjoy this and find the following information helpful

I have fished Powell for about ten years but it wasn't until the last four years that I began to focus some serious attention on fishing for Stripers - I have lived in the Northwest (Portland, Or) where I chased Steelhead and Salmon during the seasons. Before that I lived in Salt Lake City where I was caught up in spending many nights fishing for trophy Browns and the Big Lakers at the "Gorge", but it wasn't until a July family outing to Lake Powell that I was bitten by the Striper bug.

I have always believed that fish bite for only a few reasons, well really only two - they are hunger or their instinct is "triggered to bite". When it comes down to it there is really only one reason for a bite the "trigger". Now most of you know this already but how many of you know the best method for determining the "trigger".

My first recommendation if you are just getting started fishing for a new prey like fresh water Striper's - ask questions and fish with "old fishermen".

When I moved to Portland from Salt Lake City on the very first day in the office, I began asking questions about the fishing. The most important question I asked was "who is the best fisherman". I soon had two names John and Doug it didn't take long to locate John and after a week of me crashing his lunch break he agreed to take me steelhead fishing. I of course asked all the questions about gear and rigs so as to be as prepared as possible. I offered to drive and bring the lunch being careful to walk the fine line of respect and smoozzing.

It was standing in the water of the Sandy River that I realized that John deserved the title of "Best Fisherman" we where using exactly the same thing (sand shrimp, corky's and yarn). I was standing so close to him that you would have thought that we where sharing waders , and casting to the exact spot. John caught and released 6 steelhead that morning the largest was about twelve pounds best guess.

I watched with amazement as he repeated the process over and over again each time laughing with this deep barreled chest laugh of his that rolled up the canyon like thunder. He wasn't laughing because he had caught a fish, he was laughing at me because by this time I am saying audible prayers, crossing my fingers on each cast (all of them) not so easy to do.

We finished the day (John 6 - Kent 0) on the drive home John got into the fine details of the "trigger" - He said that the trigger is more often a combination of subtle methods applied to a given condition than it is any single one thing. However in my case on this day he thought that I was just holding my mouth wrong (again with the laugh).

Thus began a friendship that lasted many years until a heart attack took the wind out of the laugh and the spring out of the walk for old John, but not before he taught me how to define the "trigger" in many given conditions. I don't see John much any more, I miss his easy laugh and gentle manner, what I am about to share with you is a direct result of time that I spent with the "Best fisherman" I ever knew.

The "Trigger" for Stripers on Lake Powell

Like John said the trigger is most often a combination of subtle methods applied to given conditions than any one thing that triggers a bite. Some would argue that conditions on Lake Powell vary greatly but I would take exception to that . If you go to Lake Powell on any given week of a month those conditions will be pretty close the same next year when you return. Until lately even the water levels have been pretty reliable not that they are a factor for this trigger. So one thing that what we have going for us are pretty reliable conditions. Some of the things I am going to tell you will go against "accepted fishing norms" but hear me out cause they work.

When we fish Lake Powell we do not fish early or late in the day -why is that you might ask?

In July I was at Lake Powell on a family outing not a fishing trip - true fishermen know the difference.

We where staying in the rental units at Bull Frog Bay marine. I decided to wake early to wet a line but could not convince anyone to go along until about 9AM when my son Bryan finally caved in. We purchased a bag of frozen anchovies and pulled the boat out of the slip just past the Bouy field in Bullfrog Bay.

We began marking suspended fish at about 50 to 70 feet I quickly rigged up two poles with what we call a Herring rig, spreader and drop sinker (3oz) on about 12" of 8lb. We counted our baits down to 50 pulls and started trolling slowly just getting a slow roll out of the baits, it was not even a minute and we both hooked up. We fished about 3 hours and promptly filled the 105 quart fish box (cooler) on the back of the boat. The heat from the midday sun was getting to both of us so we quit, but I have been hooked on striper fishing at Powell every since.

Each year I go back to Lake Powell not in July but in May, I'm older now I fish with a friend who just happens to be my wife's uncle he is in his 70's . We enjoy the fact that we don't have to be rushed - we slip the boat and stay aboard at Bullfrog marine, each day we will leave by 9am and rarely fish past noon - we will generally catch 40 fish but have caught upwards of 100 before we quit for the day, my rule is how many do I want to fillet on any given day.

It is rare that we will go fishing in the afternoon because it is so hot. Instead we opt to take our time filleting the fish at the cleaning station while we toss back a couple cold one's. The reason I am writing this article is that so many people are amazed at how many fish we are catching. You would think that after so many years of fishing the same week at the same place we would run into somebody that was doing as well or better than we are, not so in fact not even close. From my observations the spring is pretty slow striper fishing for most people yet we consistently score big catches year in and year out.

I do share what we are doing and how we do it but I think that unless you actually see it done it is difficult for people to get it down. I have shown the rigs to dozens of people, in fact I even tied some up for other fishermen and I only know of one other couple that has had success. I am convinced that it is what John said about the "trigger" it's not anyone thing but rather a combination of subtle methods coming together in a given condition that produce results. So to the best of my ability I will try and share those subtle methods that seem to work for us.

First we troll - if you don't troll then move on, we troll slow .5 to .75 mph the speed is adjusted to fit the roll of the bait - the bait must roll in a slow wide roll like a "wounded fish" = "the trigger". Everything you do is to create this look of the bait, it is the instinct trigger that makes fish on the spawn bite. If it spins, swims or the mouth is pulled open because of the tie, or it is broken it will not roll and it won't work.

Be consistent - I use the same gear on all the stations - no one brings "their pole" they use mine, no one use a different bait - the only variable is depth.

For fun sometimes we will stack two and three well tied baits on one line and catch two and three Stripers at a time.

I use long poles because we fish out of a 23' cuddy - it's the length that is important in case you need to swing out of the way of the kicker motor or muscle a fish into the net. Once again be consistent - I use the same length poles because we count down our depth from the reels to the first eye. Here is the formula one pull from the reel to the first eye using a 3oz cannonball weight trolled at .5 to .75 mph will result in a one foot drop 50 pulls = 50 feet (approx) but more importantly it is consistent.

We will fish the same rigs at different depths until we begin to catch fish, not only just fish but the size of fish. Like most fishermen we want to catch the biggest fish we can so keep in mind Stripers are like Lake trout they will generally school in sizes. One other point almost always the larger fish are deeper.

You might ask why not use down riggers - you can but it will slow you down, the most important thing to know is what depth your bait is at when you pick up a fish, so you will be able repeat the process. I like fishing with down riggers for lake trout but remember you are going to catch 50 to 100 of these 3-4- 5-7 lbs stripers you can't keep up with that setting down riggers and tying baits.

I use the same reels on all the poles - I prefer Abu Garcia 6500 with clickers - I like the drags which should be set very loose while trolling. Stripers hit like a ton of bricks and will really make the reel sing. A loose drag let's you control the hook set and prevents the fish from tearing off on the strike. You can adjust the drag to the fish once you have a good hook-up.

If you miss a bite change baits cause chances are you are dragging a piece of anchovy. Never leave a bait out in hopes of a second strike it isn't going to happen. Sometimes you can open your bail and let you bait drop immediately after a missed strike and the fish will come back and pick it up but you have to be fast to make this work.

Once again be consistent same size line, length of leader, size of swivels, size of spreaders and weight size 3oz cannon ball on a drop leader from the spreader.

Be ready to fish - I will tie up 1 or 2 dozen leaders ("John Pauly Rig") before I go to the lake, once at the lake I will rig two poles for every fisherman - all but the sinkers, I pre-tie about a dozen baits and keep them sitting on ice in a cooler; again consistency counts, all the leaders are the same length, they all use the same size number 7 swivels.

If you do this right it will be non stop action most of the time you will be fighting a fish or netting a fish or tying a bait . If you are going to take a lunch break stop fishing but stay where you are at. Stripers will bring in other stripers - we cut up anchovies and chum a bucket of anchovies (about two bags) and drop them on our first pattern pass.

Once we get the stripers going the bite seems to just gets stronger so we go. Rarely do we break for lunch, we just slug down a beer or water on the fly. But boy have we sponsored some fish taco parties on the docks after the fishing is done, but that is another story.

OK the hard part is getting the bait tied right - Old John was a fanatic about the bait and so am I, if it is not done right you are just going for a boat ride. I like to have the anchovies not quite fully thawed I lay the anchovy in my left hand tail down toward the palm and head pointing toward my fingers. I pass both hooks of the herring rig hooks down and through both eyes try not to pop the eyes. Now you have a anchovy with the leader passed through from the top down bring the hooks under the belly side so the hooks are on top of the anchovy.

VERY IMPORTANT: The leader must pass under the anchovy or the mouth will flop open when it is trolled.

Put the anchovy flat on a bait table still pointing the same direction, now take the second hook from the end (you have two hooks the tail hook and the head hook) you want the head hook, it will be the one closest to the head.

You must hook the anchovy at or just behind the gill plate in a manner that allows the hook shank to lay flat with the eye of the hook towards the anchovy eyes. The curve or bend of the hook will be sticking out the side of bait.

Important that you hook deep enough into the anchovy to catch some ribs on the other side yet not all the way through the bait. Now take the second hook and hook it into the bait just forward of the tail try to catch some of the bones, if you go all the way through John would frown on it but it will still work ok.

Now you should have a bait with two hooks in the side of it and the shanks laid along side with the eye of the hooks toward the head of the bait. The leader runs back down through both eyes and under the gill plate. Hold the head hook at the eye and pull the slack out between both hooks this causes the bait to curl gently - gentle is the key word - if you pull too much the bait will break or it will spin when trolled, not enough and you will not have enough curve in the bait to make your bait roll like a wounded fish.

Now pick the bait up by the leader it should pass under the gill plate in such a way that it holds the mouth closed while trolled.

This is a method used to tie herring for salmon fishing. Other herring bait methods do not work as well, like plug cuts or nose clips. It is the slow wide roll of the bait that triggers the strike.

Do this right and you will have to be prepared to answer one question over and over and over - " What ya using?"

Your reply "whole anchovy".

Let's talk about the rig - The "John Pauly Rig" is a two hook rig with a slip hook - the bottom hook is shank tied and the second hook is tied directly to leader to enable it to slide down the line with enough friction hold the bait in shape. If it's too loose and it won't hold or too tight and it won't slide. It's not hard to do once you have seen it done - but nearly impossible for me to tell you how to do it.

It is important that you tie these rigs neat because you have to pass then through the eyes of the bait. Here is a best example of this not that I can think of - if you look at a commercially tied snelled hook with the line shank wrapped. That is the same knot that you want to tie for both hooks only with the second hook you will use a separate piece of leader to tie it to the shank.

Eagle claw does make some rigs you can buy I am sure they would work.

I just prefer to use rigs I tie myself, made up with 12 lbs green MAX , 2/0 GAMAKATSU Octopus nickel hooks, a medium sized bait spreader and eagle claw # 7 swivels.

The length of the leaders is 3.5 feet. I don't think that Stripers are leader sensitive. I use mono because I like the 12 lb for quick bait tie-ups in the boat and it holds up well to the rough tooth pads on stripers. If there is a problem with this rig it is that after a number of fish the second hook will come loose it. It will not fall off the leader as it is threaded through the eye of the hook but it will need to be tied again after the fishing is over. One thing that I've found helps the front hook from coming loose is to heat the tip of a pocket knife and slightly melt both ends of the leaders used to tie the hook. This eliminates the end of the leader from catching the chovy's eye and keeps the leader from working loose and creating the need to tie on another front hook.

I use swivels to facilitate quick changes of rigs and I use swivels on the line to spreaders as well. I use lighter leader on the drop sinker cannonball usually 8 lbs test and make it about 12" long.

We sometimes use a rig with three hooks - we use these when we have a lot of missed strikes. The third hook is fixed (does not slide) same as the second one. Top is the only slider hook - the trailer hook does not hook in the bait it just rolls along behind the bait - about 1 in 5 hook ups will be on the trailer.(Salmon)

The reason I sent this along was because we do catch some Walleye while we are fishing for Stripers (in the middle of the day) and often a missed hit will result in half an anchovy - I just read your fishing tips on Walleye and their nature of being tail biters and it sparked this rig into memory so I thought I would share one with you. I believe Walleye are a little more leader sensitive not sure? At any rate hook size and line weight can be modified I would be interested to know what you think so that I can tie up a supply of rigs to fish specific to Walleye.

Ok talk fishing - First thing find fish which is not hard at Lake Powell. Stripers can be found everywhere on this monster lake and there are millions of them. Speaking of millions I wish they would have the Million dollar fish contest again. - back to fishing - Well here is what you know: You know that you have to troll slow, using a rolling anchovy and you know how to rig, you know there are fish in the area. So let's fish

Once you locate some fish decide a trolling pattern and stay with it first pass chum a bucket of Anchovies. When setting your baits adjust your boat speed and the anchovy so the bait does a slow wide roll of the bait - count the bait down - one to upper depth range of the marking fish the other on the lower depth range..

Have handy least two nets on board. When a fish hits fight it, net it, hang the net on a pole holder outside of the boat (helps keep the boat clean) with fish still in it.

Change the bait, get your line/bait back into the water prior to removing the fish from the net. Use two pairs of pliers to remove both hooks from the fish, this will save your fingers although stripers don't have big teeth over time those little ones take a toll on your hands.

The fish goes into the box.

Tie a new bait to the now empty hook.

Hook and land the fish that is now biting your new bait.

Repeat above until exhausted.

We will be in Powell the second week of May as usual - Lord willing - maybe we will see you down there and we can swap stories eyeball to eyeball. If this helps you out - great - but don't thank me - all thanks to my friend John Pauly the "BEST FISHERMAN" I know.