How to Troll For Bottom Fish
Trolling paddle tail swimbaits in conjunction with downriggers can be a great way to cover water when bottom fishing! This is a simple yet effective way to target bottom fish that uses the same salmon fishing gear you might already have.
First of all, tie on a bead chain and duo lock to the end of your mainline, follow up with a 3–4-foot length of 60lb mono, then tie on your paddle tail. Personal favorites are Gibbs Power-paddles, or Lighthouse Lures Max Shads. Clip your paddle tail to your Power Grip clip and send it down near the bottom.
For instance, when trolling in 150 ft of water, drop your swimbaits to 150 ft. Since you are trolling, the blowback from current or your movement will raise your actual depth so you’re not hanging up on bottom. Blowback is the angle of the downrigger cable in conjunction with your boat speed. For example, if the downriggers are set to 150 ft, but you’re trolling at two or three knots, your actual fishing depth is closer to 120 ft. Generally speaking, with lingcod and rockfish, you want to be trolling 10-20 feet off bottom, around one to two knots, or have a cable angle of around 10-20 degrees.
On a side note, depending on which way the current is moving will change which way you position yourself in relation to the structure. You want to go with the current, not against it. Lingcod and rockfish are extremely structure dependent, focusing your efforts on pinnacles and ledges will greatly improve your chances.
This method of fishing is extremely simple, but you need to pay extremely close attention to your depth sounder and downrigger depths or you might lose your cannon ball. If you see the bottom start to come up on the sounder, adjust the depth on your downriggers accordingly.
Good luck out there and have fun!