If we were going to play a game of name association it would start out something like this, Buck Perry (Spoon Plugging), Bill Murphy (Stitching), Bill Dance (the Tennessee hat), and then if we tossed out the name Al Lindner, he would have to be named as one of the most well rounded anglers for all species with small mouth bass at the top of that list.
This last winter I was fortunate enough to have the chance to fish a number of days with Al. He was visiting his son Troy who now lives out here in sunny California. With the winter months of Minnesota getting colder than Al could ever remember, the vacation was timed perfectly for targeting cold-water Southern Cal bass.
You may not know, Troy Lindner and I have been tournament partners in several Southern California team circuits over the last year. During many our pre fishing days Al would go with us and would help us put our game plans together.
At the end of Al’s stay he asked me to do a TV show with him. We started brainstorming about California fishing tactics and places where we could film on the water. Lake Casitas was shut down from the threat of mussels, and Castaic charges to make a film, which left Diamond Valley as a good alternative. After getting everything in place to shoot the show over at Diamond Valley Lake, Al and I started to talk shop about catching big fish.
Al asked questions about the big fish that lurk in the waters of Castaic Lake. His questions about these mighty green giants prompted me to ask him about his catches of large bass over his lengthy career. I was taken back a few steps when he said he has caught two bass over ten pounds with the heaviest just over 11 pounds. I couldn’t believe an angler of his caliber had only caught two bass over ten, wow. The more I thought about it, the madder I became that I did not take the time to get Al out on the water to target some monster bass. In the big picture it reaffirms that the size of a bass is relative to the area that the fish might live. The passion of the sport is the stuff that really matters in the pursuit of a true trophy. This gentleman’s desire and passion is what it should really be about, not a number on a scale that someone said a bass has to weigh to be a trophy. OK, it is still pretty cool to hit that magical 10-pound mark but don’t feel bad for Al, I don’t. The number of trophy sized Musky, Pike, Walleye, and small mouth bass that Al has caught are more than I can comprehend.
As we continued to talk my blood started to boil about the chance to hook Al into a lifetime fish; his time was running short because his vacation was near its end.
OK buddy, when I am home from the fire station and I think the time is right you have to get up here to Castaic ASAP. I could not even finish the sentence when he said “you give me a call and I will be there in 30 minutes with my boat ready to go”
Two days later after getting home from the station I could feel it in the air. I couldn’t hit the redial fast enough to callmy friend. As he answered I just said, “Are you ready to catch a pig?” And his first reply was, “can my kid come along?” I do not know about you, but that is just to cool and I said to bring him. The only bad thing about that was the technique I was going to usewould only allowtwo guys to fish. I guess I was going to be the guide for the day.
Within 30 minutes (not breaking any speeding limits) they were at the lake ready to go. I stepped out of my truck reached in the back and grabbed only two rods, one box of big baits, and my camera case. They both just looked at me as if Iwas joking or I had other rods still in the back of the bed.
I think one of themsaidwhen I got to their boat was, are we trolling for trout? The two sticks I brought were my LamiglasXC807 big bait specials teamed up with two Shimano Triton Mark IVs spooled up with 18lb lead line. I just gave them a big smile and said let’s go.
Within a few minutes I had both of them out in the water trolling 12” baits. You Bass Angler’s Guide readers need to put this stuff in your memory bank.
Trolling has been a proven technique for ages andBuck Perry has promoted “SPOON PLUGGING” in his book that everyone needs to read at least once. The key to trolling is precision depth control with a complete understanding of structure layout and lure capability.
Here are my steps for long line trolling with lead line with the use of the trolling motor.
I put a seat up front in my Bass Cat so I can sit down and dial in the speed I need to make the lure run the way I want it to (better to see it two feet under the water to give you a better idea of what it is doing 30 to 40 feet deep 100 yards back).
Next, understanding your equipment is just as important. Many bass anglers don’t know about lead line so here are some quick tips. The line has a continuous lead core that runs the entire length that is approximately 100 yards per spool, with 10 colors that change every 10 yards. It also has an approximate sink rate of 1 foot down with 2 yards out.
This is the sink rate when you are fishing for trout with small baits like a needlefish.
Big baits have different depth factors depending on lure design (billed or no billed baits), thermo clines and extreme water temperature change can affect the sink rate. So understanding these differences will help you when trying to hit the key spot-on area within your troll.
Now, to dial in the running depth of the lure for the speed you are going you will need to take several things into consideration. If you are using a billed swimbait that floats and you go fasterwith your trollingmotor thatwill drive you lure down, if you are using boot tail swim bait like a 8” Optimumthe speed and friction will drive your lure up in the water column. Let your line out, I call this “let back”, a calculated distance of line behind the boat. Every line has different factors from fluorocarbon, mono, wire; to braid each one will be unique in its capabilities.
This is easier that you think, it just takes a little time going through the motions to get a feel for it. To figure depth control, locate an area of the lake with a uniformed depth.Then get your bait, maybe a billed bait like a MS Slammer, or a non billed bait like a BBZ-1, or a boot tail style (all have different features that either drive the bait deeper or lifts the lures as speed is increased as stated above) out behind the boat at a known distance.
The color change of the lead line helps, if usingmono orwire amarks alot pen or reel counter is the next best bet. So, say you are 4 colors out and your lure hits the bottom at 25’, keep going at a constant speed for aminute or so. If your lure stops hitting the bottomlet somemore line out, if you start to drag the bottomand your lure is not deflecting properly then you are too deep, so bring some line in. I like 3 to 5 bumps on the bottomwith about a 4 second pause of free swimming before I hit bottom again.
After you have the right line, mark you trolling motor with a grease pencil and then glance at your fishing line for the right color. Remember that knowing how much line your reel takes up per revolution and understanding lure depth control with each lure you use will make you more precise when you move your lure up and down in the water column. Knowing this will help you hit the top of the ridge in 30 feet of water as you pass over it, or present your bait perfectly to individual fish you see on your graph, fish above or below moving schools of bait or pods of trout that the bass are keying on.
Similar systems can be used with mono,wire, planner boards, and down riggers. These techniques are deeply ingrained in the minds of the trolling anglerwho fish trout, salmon, walleye, and stripers. If it has worked for them for years thenwhy can’t it work for us in the chase for monster bass?
All of this really comes into play is when you are working inside or outside turns around points, humps, ridges, flats, and creek channels. Whenever you move the boat from a straight pull of the lure the line will do certain things, for example the weight of the lead line will start to fall as you make your turn. To keep your line from snagging on the bottomyou have to increase the speed of your boat 2 to 3 times faster than your original speed. Once you have straightened back out you can drop your speed back down to the mark you made with the grease pencil on your trolling motor. Remember to watch your graph and look for hard bottom structure to bang your bait against or do manual directional changes at key locations in the water column to trigger the followers.
Now that you have the basics for a proven fish catching technique I should get back to the story at hand.
After trolling for about an hour, I went past an inside corner of a subtle break line with a very small point at one end, the wind was blowing just enough to make it hard for boat control. I noticed four or five really good marks holding 2 feet off the bottom in 25’; I remember looking back at my two friends with a wicked grin and I told them the next pass was going to be money!
It took me about 7 minutes to reposition the boat for the right approach, I told themthis is what we had to do on the next pass. We have to come in at an angle with the wind from 38’ of water and I would go past the tip of this point 50 yards, this is going to put the boat in 6’ and should have the lures right around the 25’ mark. This is basic BBZ mindset on working “uphill”, creating a “funnel”, and then doing “directional change”. Then when I hit my “trigger point” (another mental calculation on “let back”, how far is your lure behind the boat and at what point do I need to increase my speed and make my turn so I do not drive the lure into the point and get stuck, that is my “trigger point”).
I will have to kick the boat hard right and put it on high to keep the lead line from catching the bottom and to get the perfect “course change” (changing the path of one’s bait at key structure or cover elements, creating the ultimate “illusion of realism”) of the lure right at the tip of the point. As we made the hard right hand turn I told them it should take about 20 seconds for the line to tighten up and then they should start to feel the big bait hitting the bottom. Well I was off a little because it took about 30 seconds and both the father and the son said at the same time that they could feel their lures bumping bottom.
Then there was a moment when nothing was said but the boat rocked hard side to side. Iwas hoping that one of themgot hooked up and as I turned around both of their rods where doubled over. Yes it was a double hookup on the troll; now you have to remember that the purpose of the trip was to get Al into a personal best bass. Well as Murphy’s Law would have it, Troy was the one that hooked the bigger of the two fish.
To say these guyswere a little excited would be way off mark. I have never seen two guys jumping back and forth trying not to tangle the lines of both of the fish they were fighting, screaming and laughing like these where the first bass they have ever laid a hook into.
The Lindner’s were out of control but totally in charge of the fish. The funny thing is that even though Troy Lindner is a professional sports trainer and is in better shape than most of us, I had to laugh a little watching him getting out of breath with that little green fish at the end of his line (OK, it was a big fish).
After netting Al’s 7 pounder I emptied the net as fast as I could and scooped up Troy’s big bass. At a whopping 11.50 pounds, Troy’s bass surpassed both his and his father’s largest bass to date.
With a handful of photos with Al and Troy I could truly see the love in Al’s eyes being in the boat with his son and watching him catching a fish of a lifetime.
I know if that weremy Dad and I, my Dad would be the first to say I just got lucky or he let me catch that fish because he did not want to hear me complain on the drive home. I felt bad for Al and I told him I was sorry for him not catching her, Troy and I are tournament partners and we will have our time on the water.
He looked right atme and said, “We not only got a double hookup trolling big baits, but I was here with my son as he caught his biggest bass of his life.Bill, this ismore than I could ever ask for, and it is A Day I Will Always Remember” Al Lindner.
Take care and Keep it in the BBZ
Bill Siemantel’s Accomplishments: Co-author BIG BASS ZONE (BBZ- the book), Bassmaster Tournament Winner, Lure designer and Inventor, Fishing Educator.