Trolling crank bait is an easy and effective way to fish in Minnesota

One of the things I enjoy visiting my northern Minnesota cabin is watching anglers crank baits by my dock.

You seem to be at peace.

They seem at peace because they are not constantly throwing, staggering, dropping anchor, lifting anchor, using socks, or otherwise messing around with this or that.

Instead, they mostly sit. And they enjoy the boat ride.

There is something to be said for it, and what to be said is “simplicity”. Trolling crank baits for pikeperch and other species is a simple and effective fishing technique that can cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. It’s also a great way to fish with fidgety children or older adults who are often just looking forward to a relaxing day on the water.

How do you troll crank bait?

Well, it can be as simple or as complex as you like. Complex means buying special planing boards, lead fishing lines, reels that measure how much line you’re letting out, and more.

Simply means buying some crank baits, throwing them behind the boat with your spinning rod, and then trolling slowly, usually about 2 mph. If you enjoy this type of fishing, here are some things to keep in mind:

What to buy

A crank bait is a hard plastic bait that looks like a type of blacksmith fish. It’s designed to wobble naturally when pulled through the water. The vibration and the lifelike appearance of the bait trigger blows. Crank baits come in many different colors, styles and shapes. You should buy bait that mimics the dominant forages in the waters you are fishing. Your local bait shop can help if you are trying to “adjust the hatch” so to speak. Typically anglers in the Midwest catch fairly small crank baits in the spring and early summer when young forage fish of the year are small. During the year, many anglers switch to larger baits. Many popular pikeperch crank baits are long and slim. These baits replicate certain species of minnows. Many others have chunkier bodies that mimick shade, perch, or other dominant prey. Crank baits come in both floating and sinking options. Instructions for use can usually be found on the packaging in which they came. In addition, some crank lures are designed to wobble a lot, others less. Again, check with your local sports store for the best options in your area.

Where to fish

Simple trolling usually means fishing in waters that are 15 feet deep or less. Basically, this means coastlines, the inside and outside edges of weed beds, over rocky spots and submerged islands, and the saddles between deeper holes. Trolling across flat sand is a good option in the spring when pikeperch feed in these warm waters.

Things to know

Watch the tip of your wand as you troll. The way it wobbles indicates if the boat speed is about right. If your pole tip doesn’t wobble at all, it likely means you have weeds on your bait. Depending on the bait you choose, you may need to let out 50, 100, or even 150 feet of line. The goal is to have your bait close to the bottom and even tick the bottom from time to time. When a fish hits, there is no need to create a powerful sweeper hook set as these types of lures will mostly hook the fish into themselves. Enjoy!


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