Low Tide

Yacht Designer Tad Roberts' Web Log

The Trolling Cockpit

The Trolling Cockpit

Trolling is a fishing method utilizing hooks and lures being towed through the water at low speed. In BC trollers target salmon, mainly springs (Chinook) but also coho, sockeye, pinks (humpies), and Chum (Dogs). The work of setting out and hauling back these lures (hopefully with fish attached) is done from the safety of a trolling at the stern of the boat. As seen in the photo above the cockpit is a deep well, approximately hip deep on the fisherman, usually with removable covers to keep water out. The well extends completely across the boat and is often forward of the transom. This is because the lines and fish actually come up on the quarter rather than over the stern. Deck space aft of the cockpit is usually used for spoon and gear storage.

Aboard BC trollers the gurdies are outboard port and starboard directly forward of the cockpit. Gurdies are the hydraulically powered brass reels holding stainless fishing wires. At the bottom ends of these wires are cannonballs, the lead spheres seen resting in a holder outboard of the gurdies. Also note the metal davits with trolling wire lead through blocks to the cannonballs. When fishing the davits are swung outboard to lift the fishing lines and cannonballs out of the water clear of the boat. But also note the ironbark on the hull sides to protect planking from swinging cannonballs. Across the centerline between the gurdies is a penned off area called the “checkers” where fish are thrown as they come aboard.

The three separately controlled gurdy drums contain three mainlines per side. As these mainlines go out numerous shorter leaders with flasher, spoon, and hook attached are clipped to the mainline at different depths. Of course these leaders must be unclipped again as the lines come up. Tag lines run from the trolling poles to doughnuts on the main lines, a snap on the line will jamb the doughnut and the line trails from the pole tip.

The cockpit is set up for one man to fish and operate the boat from. So there is a steering wheel, engine throttle and clutch controls, often autopilot controls, and a depth sounder in that big box hanging from the boom midships over the checkers. A Loran or GPS receiver is also included to stay “on the spot”, in earlier days there was a compass.

Thanks to Don Macmillian for the photos.

Trolling Cockpit

Trolling Cockpit

Troller aft deck

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