How to Troll for Rockfish

How to Troll for Rockfish
Rockfish, or striped bass, are so called because of their penchant for hanging out beneath rocks. They migrate from the river to the ocean and are common in a number of bays. You can use various methods to catch rockfish, with trolling a viable option. Trolling for rockfish, which includes using several lines at one time, has its own tips and rules for a bountiful catch.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Several fishing rods
  • Lures
  • Hooks
  • Weights
  • Umbrella rigs
  • Binoculars
  • Radar (optional)
Step 1
Pick lures rockfish like. Rockfish are attracted to lures that are shiny, bright, sparkly and look like baitfish. Go for those that look like shad, parachute, mojo heads or bucktail. Pick colors that include chartreuse, pink, pearl, purple, sparkles or those with foil inserts. Keep the lures clean and neat, especially any lure hair.
Step 2
Use ideal rigs. Try an umbrella rig that is shorter than the typical 20-inch length. Go for one that runs from 12 to 15 inches in shallower depths so it's easier to handle. Stick to umbrellas with the traditional four arms and eight teasers. Stick to the 20-inch umbrellas in deeper waters. Stick with a single or double rig for larger fish so the line does not become too heavy if several bite. Use at least a 9/0 hook for larger rockfish.
Step 3
Find rockfish hotspots. Look for areas where gulls and other birds are feeding. Use binoculars and radar to further your search, honing in on spots where lots of fish and diving birds are feeding on dense areas of fish. Check out the tides by watching water levels, as rockfish bite best during a moving tide. Also pay attention to drop-offs and other underwater structures that have ledges, as that's another spot rockfish like to feed.
Step 4
Set your lines at different depths. Put at least one line near the top of the water. Stagger other lines into shallow, intermediate and deep waters. Shallow runs from 10 to 15 feet deep, intermediate from 20 to 25 and deep runs from 30 to 45 feet below the surface. Hold the different depths in place with weights.
Step 5
Stay within your limits. Run only as many lines as you can feasibly handle. Always troll with at least one other person when you're on a boat, so someone can stay at the wheel.

Tips & Warnings

Use darker lures, like black and purple, when the water is murky.
Don't crowd in on other rockfish anglers. Not only is it rude, but too many boats will scare away the fish. Use your own tools to find your locations.

Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.