Fish are cold-blooded creatures. Water temperatures have an effect on their way of doing things. When the water is cold, the fish prefer a slow moving bait. Their metabolism is slower in cold water, so they don't move as fast.
When water temperatures warm up, fish will move around more, and they'll also be willing to smack a faster moving bait.
In the summer, speed-trolling is a good way to catch fish. You can cover the water faster while speed-trolling, so you're putting your bait in front of more fish. That increases your chances for getting bit.
A faster moving bait is also more attractive to fish in the summer. Maybe it's not more attractive; maybe the faster moving bait just makes the fish eat it. I've seen lots of times when we'll troll through a school of fish at, say a mile and half an hour and nothing bites. Then we go back through the school at two and a half miles per hour and the fish are all over it. That's our cue that, on that day, a faster presentation will do the job. The fish can look at a slower moving bait better and sometimes will refuse it. If the bait is moving fast, the fish must react quicker. Either they eat or they don't. Much of the time they do.
Speed-trolling appeals to a wide variety of Midwest fish. Muskies and northern pike willingly eat fast moving baits in the summer. So do walleyes. Pull a crankbait quickly along a weedline and largemouth bass will be all over it.
How fast do you go when speed-trolling? I've gone between three and four miles an hour with success. The Humminbird sonar that I use has built-in GPS, which displays speed to tenths of a mile. This is a big advantage. When a fish hits, quickly check the speed, then match it when you get your bait back in the water.
The Evinrude motor that I run is 150 horsepower, but it trolls at the necessary speeds very well, and the gas consumption at those low speeds is minimal. And it's so quiet you don't need to yell when a fish hits.
Crankbaits are usually used for speed trolling, but spoons and bucktails work well also, especially for pike and muskies.
When pulling crankbaits for walleyes at a fast speed, a medium action casting rod is the way to go. I really like a Lightning Rod for speed-trolling. You want the rod to have some bend in it as you troll. When a fish hits, the rod will just bend over. The medium action is more forgiving, so you'll land almost all of the fish that hit.
For walleyes 10/4 FireLine is a good size to go with. If you're going to use a heavier action rod, monofilament like Trilene XT is the way to go. Mono stretches, and that's usually a good thing with a heavier action rod.
If you go fishing in the next few weeks, and you should, try speed-trolling. It's fun and it's effective, and that's what we want from our fishing.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)