Chasing The Radio

Chasing the radio. We’ve all done it while trolling on Lake Ontario for trout or salmon. Inevitably, someone will be getting bit and catching fish while we’re not, announcing it on the VHF radio.  A natural reaction would be to try to duplicate what you’re hearing on the radio in an attempt to get bites as well. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. Results, or lack of, indicate that there are a few problems with doing this. This article will attempt to shed some light on why chasing the radio may or may not be such a good idea.

Chasing The Radio

Typical VHF Radio used on Lake Ontario

The key word here is “duplicate”. Speed, direction, depth of water over, depth in the column, set backs behind riggers, diver lead lengths, etc., etc., can and will have an effect on lure presentation. The right lure presentation is what gets bites! Location on the body of water also plays an important role as you may not be over any fish and the report you’re hearing could be miles away from where you’re fishing.

Years of trolling Lake Ontario has taught me that chasing the radio will usually not pan out.There are just too many variables that can’t be duplicated. Equipment set-up alone is a major factor in and of itself. One important question that has to be answered is what kind of cable does the boat that’s getting bit have on its downriggers. Is it actual wire cable or is it power pro? What pound test or diameter is the cable? This will effect blow back and hence, the presentation. What size and type of downrigger weights are they using? We use sharks! Do you? Do they? What pound test wire line are they using on their dipseys? If any of these are different, how can you expect to get similar results?

We often get calls from friends looking for information on how and where to catch fish. Typical questions we get are,” how deep of water and how far down are your riggers?” If you think about all the variables that can and do exist, these are not the right questions to be asking unless you know for sure that your set-ups are exactly the same as the boat you’re talking to. There are much better questions to be asking that will lead you to success.

Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask is,”Where is temperature?” However, this in and of itself is not a panacea unless you know the actual depth in the water column. Let’s say, for example, that the target temperature is 100 ft. down actual depth in the water column. This is a variable that you can duplicate with the proper equipment or knowledge. We use the Fishhawk X4D and TD for this purpose. Knowing what you need to do on your boat to get to the target temperature and speed with your equipment eliminates most of the other variables that were mentioned in the preceding paragraphs that can affect your presentation.

The other really important question to ask is,”What speed are you trolling at?” Here is the second biggest piece of the puzzle.On any given day, the target species may want it fast or they may want it slow. It has been our experience that faster is better for generating bites but slower seems to produce larger fish. Either way, speed, and depth of target temperature are the two parameters that you can reproduce on your vessel and make all the other variables that much less important.

Many of the charter boats and recreational fishermen on Lake Ontario doctor up their rigs. They may tape an attractor or spoon a certain way that you can’t duplicate unless you have seen that rig personally. Another issue is that some fishermen will stretch the truth or just flat out lie about what they are catching or what they are using. Personally, I find no use for this but, I guess some people just have to do it to make up for their inefficiencies.

Learning how to ask the right questions and then knowing how to run your stuff to match it will take you a lot farther than listening to everyone else on the VHF radio. Chasing the radio is usually not the answer. In fact, most of the really good fishermen that I know do not broadcast what they are getting bit on, anyways! Unless you know them, they won’t tell you in person, either. Learning to network with people you can trust and building relationships with other good fishermen will put many more fish in the boat than chasing the radio will ever do!

For more information feel free to check out our Lake Ontario fishing info and tips page here