Search This Blog

Boards on the Beach

By Mark Romanack
The author is becoming a big fan of using Mini
Boards early in the year when fishing shallow
water or close to shore.

In the spring one fact about fishing holds true most of the time. When the main body of a lake is icy cold, the warmest available water is going to be the skinny depths found near shore. This simple, but profound fact of nature has helped guide me into countless brown trout, coho, lakers, brook trout, walleye and pike in the spring of the year.

Shallow water warms more quickly because the sun can penetrate the depths. Submerged rocks, wood and even organic material on the bottom does a good job of absorbing solar radiation and warming the surrounding water. On a bright sunny day, I’ve seen water temperature start out in the morning at around 36 degrees and spike above 50 degrees in the afternoon!

When the waters near shore warm quickly baitfish invade the shallows and predator fish are sure to follow.

Pictured here the author uses Off Shore Tackle Mini Boards to present
small crankbaits near shore. This trolling trick has helped the author
catch brown trout, coho, lake trout, brook trout, walleye and even
pike during the spring of the year.
Trolling is for the most part the only practical way of covering large amounts of water. In some cases fish can be found in isolated locations like the mouth of a tributary that pours into a lake, but more often the process of catching fish requires covering massive amounts of water along miles of shoreline.

Trolling the shoreline with the help of in-line boards is perhaps the most efficient means of fishing the beach. Traditionally I’ve spent most of my trolling time with the OR12 Side-Planer board produced by Off Shore Tackle. This workhorse of the planer board world has produced countless fish for avid trollers.

Recently the introduction of smaller in-line boards has changed my spring time trolling strategy a touch. Off Shore Tackle now produces a smaller in-line board called the OR34 Mini Board. This pint sized board is perfect for fishing close to shore where rough water isn’t an issue. Mini boards are also made with the idea of fishing smaller lures, light action rods/reels and lighter fishing lines, which also fits nicely with early spring trolling strategies. 

Nick DeShano of Off Shore Tackle holds a nice spring
walleye he took trolling with the OR34 Mini Board.
The Mini Board can be rigged two different ways. Out of the package I like to set my boards up with an OR10 (yellow) line release on the tow arm of the board and an OR16 (red) snap weight clip mounted to the back of the board with a provided split ring.

Rigged in this manner, I simply set out the desired amount of trolling lead and then place the board on the line by putting the line between the rubber pads on the OR10 release and then place the line behind the plastic pin found in the middle of the rubber pads on the OR16 snap weight clip. Now that the board is on the line, I simply place the board in the water and let line play off my reel while slowly trolling. The Mini Board does an excellent job of planing out to the side with small to medium sized trolling lures like crankbaits, spoons and spinners.

When a fish strikes the board telegraphs the bite by dragging back in the water. The angler in turn gets the rod out of the rod holder and trips the line from the front release by giving the rod tip a little snap. Once the line pops free of the release on the tow arm, the board will swing around but remain on the line thanks to the OR16 snap weight clip.

Once the board is tripped the line starts making its way to the back of the boat quickly. The angler essentially reels in the board and the fish at the same time and removes the board when it reaches the rod tip. It’s practical to stack two, three or even four Mini Boards per side of the boat using this rigging method. Because the board can be tripped, there is never any need to clear lines to fight hooked fish!
While filming an episode of Fishing 411 on Lake Nipigon, Dan LaFond
caught this exceptional brook trout in shallow water.

Another popular rigging method is what I call the “trip and slide” method of rigging. An OR10 light tension line release is mounted to the tow arm of the board and a snap swivel is added to the back of the board via the supplied split ring. The line is placed in the OR10 release as normal and then the line also placed through the snap swivel. When the board is released, it is now free to slide down the line via the snap swivel.

Most anglers rig a “speed bead” or split shot on the line about three feet in front of the lure. This acts to stop the board from sliding all the way to the lure and potentially knocking off the fish.

This rigging method also allows anglers to stack as many as three or four lines per side of the boat without having to clear lines to fight and land fish.

The Mini Board is rapidly catching on with anglers who troll in skinny water and with light lures and light lines. Perfect for those ice out trout and also early season walleye, Mini Boards are yet another trick anglers can use in their spring trolling arsenal.