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Flats, creek channels, main lake points, break lines, rip rap, humps, weed beds, and open water.  So many spots, and only 1 day a week to fish.  This is a problem that so many fishermen face each and every Saturday or Sunday throughout the hot summer months.  The big question so many of us ask ourselves every Friday after work is, “WHERE’S THE BITE?”  Boy, don’t you wish you could find the answer to this question looking into a crystal ball?  Unfortunately, the local bait shop does not sell these magic contraptions.  Usually, the best answer most of them can give us is those words we so often here, “You should have been here last Wednesday.”  Man, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that one.  So that leaves us to break down the lake into as many spots we can fish until the jet skis and pleasure boats run us from the lake.  

Dan Vinovich prepares to release a Crank bait walleye
Dan Vinovich with a nice eye caught 
while crankbaiting with boards
Jigging and casting is far too slow to cover water quickly.  That leaves us one option, trolling.  Even though Illinois law states we can troll 3 rods per person, we still cannot cover vast amounts of water in our limited time frame.  But wait!  What if I told you it is possible to make a trolling pass that covers a section of water 100 feet or more wide?  That would mean we can cover 5 times the amount of water in the same given time frame.  It is simple.  The more water you cover, the better chance you have to intercept aggressive schools of fish. 
Yes, I said fish, not just walleyes, but crappies, stripers, white bass, large and smallmouth bass, and even a big cat on occasion.  Most fishermen have seen these weird devices trailing on the port and starboard sides of a boat that is trolling.  No they are not targets, although, you would think so if a person on a jet ski were to see them.  They are called Planer Boards.  When used properly, they are like adding a stick of dynamite to your fishing arsenal. 
A Offshore Tackle planer board in action A Planer Board works similar to a person on water skis cutting out to the side of the boat.  I am sure we have all seen this, so it works good as an example of how a Board looks cutting its way to the outside of the  boat wake.   
Not only does trolling give us the chance to cover the vertical water column by changing the amount of line we let out on a bait or by running a mixture of shallow and deep cranks, but trolling with Planer Boards allows us to cover the horizontal plane much like a rake.  For example, think of a few scattered leaves on the lawn.  Now run your hand through them.  If you are lucky, you might pick up one or two.  Now run a rake through them.  Get the point?  By saturating both the vertical and horizontal planes of the water column, our chances of finding aggressive fish are much better.  This may sound a little complicated, but it is not.  Planer Boards are easy to use. 

Lets go through the process of putting out a board line step by step.

 1. Choose the type of bait to tie on the line. 

 2. Run the bait by the side of the boat at trolling speed to make sure it is in  tune and is running correctly.
 3. Let out the appropriate amount of line for the depth you want to cover by  using a line counting reel or by counting the amount of times your level  wind pick-up moves from left to right on the reel. 

 4. Pick up the proper board for the side of the boat you want. (They are  labeled port and starboard, or left and right.)

 5. Snap the board on the line using the pinch style releases provided with the  board.

 6. Drop the board into the water letting out line slowly until it reaches its  desired position away from the boat.

 7. Set the rod in a rod holder and adjust it so the rod is setting up at least  at a 45 degree angle.  This is to keep the nose of the board up.

There are two ways to detect a strike or reading the boards as some people call it.  The first is fairly simple.  A board that has a fish on it will drop back out of its normal trolling path.  The only problem is it takes a good eye to know if a small fish has been hooked.  That is why I outfit all of my boards with the Tattle Tail system from OFFSHORE TACKLE.  The Tattle Tail system consists of a spring loaded flag that lays down if a fish is hooked.  This system is also great in telling you if your bait is fouled with leaves, weeds or other debris.  My number one choice of Planer Boards is the OFFSHORE TACKLE OR-12 Side-Planer, designed by professional angler Bruce DeShano.  It is the choice of countless tournament pros and guides and is the only board you will find in my boat. 

So when the dog days of summer move your fish from their springtime spawning areas or you don’t know where to look for them at your new vacation hot spot, don’t waste your precious time with traditional methods trying to locate them.  Just BOARD ’EM UP.  You can check out all of the Offshore Tackle line on the web at www.offshoretackle.com or by calling for your free catalog at 517-738-5700.  If you would like to give this technique and many more a try with me, call PREDATOR GUIDE SERVICE at 309-347-1728.

Until next time,

SEE ‘YA ON THE WATER!- trolling@mtco.co

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