Ask Zimo: Back trolling is a sure-fire way to catch steelhead

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comNovember 7, 2013 

Q: I am a rookie at fishing, and after I read your column Oct. 24, I needed to ask what is “back trolling.”

ED WARDWELL, via email

A: Back trolling is a traditional way of fishing for steelhead from a boat on a river.

Basically, you put out deep-diving, wiggling plugs (lures) downstream and row to hold the drift boat in the current.

Normally people troll with a motorboat or canoe going forward with the lures out the back of the boat. The forward movement of the boat and dragging of the lures gets them to wiggle and dive, attracting fish, which is a common way to fish when trolling reservoirs.

With back trolling, the boat is held still in the water and the river current makes the lure wiggle.

Drift boaters use their oars to hold the boat in the current and sweep back and forth across the river. Jet boaters use their motors or smaller trolling motors to do the same thing.

As you let the boat drift very slightly downstream, you can position your lures in different spots in the river. Since the boat is not going the speed of the river downstream, the current makes the plugs wobble and dive.

It’s a fun way to fish, and a great way to get beginners into steelhead because all they have to do is watch the rod tip and reel in the fish when it’s hooked. Easier said than done, but they will have fun trying.


Q: Do you know if the Crooked River Trail is being maintained and what shape it is in?

MIKE FRITZ, via email

A: Although the U.S. Forest Service didn’t have a current report on the trail, which is located northeast of Idaho City, it is usually well maintained and a really easy hike.

There may be an inch or so of snow on the ground, but that shouldn’t hamper hiking. In fact, it should add to the scenery.

The trail follows Crooked River, and in the past, it has been maintained for about 4 miles. The problem in nippy fall weather is that there are stream crossings and that means wet feet and legs.

Of course, you can hike to the first crossing (about 1.2 miles) and double back to the car.

It’s a pleasant hike, because it’s mostly flat with a slight downhill as you go downstream.

The creek, fall colors and snow could make this an intriguing hike this time of the year.

Just watch the weather. The trail head elevation is about 5,000 feet. You don’t want to get in there with a snowstorm coming in.

Also, do a mid-day hike. It’s in a slight canyon and shaded most of the day in the fall.

Get to the trail head by driving 17 miles north of Idaho City on Idaho 21. Take the road to Atlanta near the Edna Creek Campground. Drive a mile to the trail head.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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