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Long Mike

Do fish fear trolling motors?

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Over the Thanksgiving Holidays I had the opportunity of fishing a 5 acre pond in the Arkansas Ozarks.  The pond is roughly shaped like a pear, going from about two feet from the narrow end to about twelve feet at the wide end.  The pond is about six years old and is stocked with bass, bream and catfish.  There is very little structure.  The water is stained

In my three days of fishing that pond I got no bites whatsoever.  I tried everything in my tackle box, from T-Rig plastics, to Carolinas, to top waters, to spinners, to jigs.

I was fishing from a 10' Jon boat with a trolling motor.  Prior to my visit, no boat and/or trolling motor had ever been on the pond.  My locator never indicated that there were any fish beneath me.

Given the above background info I am beginning to question if my boat and trolling motor were spooking the fish, which meant that everywhere I went, the fish went elsewhere.

I would appreciate any comments..

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Thats a possibilty....did you fish from the bank at all?

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If you have the trolling motor on high and you tend to start and stop the trolling motor a lot then it might spook fish. If you have your trolling motor on low and you have it running on content it will spook the fish less.

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My take is that as long as you have the motor running the motor at a constant speed fish don 't bother at all, but speeding up then slowing down and speeding up again may have an effect on the fish closest to you making them spooky.

The point is, I say it for this reason, I troll with the outboard on when I move from spot A to spot B that may be anywhere perhaps 5 or 600 yards away and most of the times I catch fish when trolling, I may even use trolling with the outboard as a way to find the fish.  What can be more scary, the humming of a trolling motor or having a gas outboard passing over their heads ?

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Guest avid

I try to be as stealthy as possible.  Too many people have caught too many bass with trolling motors on for me to say it spooks fish.  But the quieter the better.

For me there is the added benefit of hearing the natural sounds of the wind, the lake, and all it's critters.

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Guest the_muddy_man

Hey Avid I would imagine the noise in your canoe is worse than any thing under it

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I was reading an old Bassmasters magazine on the throne a couple weeks ago and remeber a sidebar article that asked pros if the sound of the trolling motor affects fish.  The response was the same, "Yes".  This is just what I read and I have no boat of my own to have any first hand experience.  I know if I am fishing and come across an elevated bank or little bridge, bass and baitfish spook real quick beacause of my shadow.  Must think im a great blue herring or something.

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If you have the trolling motor on high and you tend to start and stop the trolling motor a lot then it might spook fish. If you have your trolling motor on low and you have it running on content it will spook the fish less.

That makes sense. They are made so they don't spook fish as easily but they still can. Go back and fish from shore and see what happens.

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After reading the above replys, and upon further reflection, I have come to the firm conclusion that my boat and motor were the problem.  This is a pond that has never had a boat on it, much less a trolling motor.  Any time I used the motor it was on dead slow, but the pond is so small that I had to keep turning it on and off.  Add the shadow of the aluminum boat and the fact that it transmits sound like a church bell and it seems to me that I created the perfect scenario for a bass fishing disaster on that particular pond.  BTW, I did fish from the bank about ten percent of the time.  The ONLY strike I had was from a dink who jumped and threw the hook.

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Now that you have convinced yourself that the boat and motor is the or was the problem, you have an excuse each time you go fishing in a boat with a motor. Perhaps next time it will be the sun, the moon, the rain, or the wind.

It was not the boat and motor.

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Now that you have convinced yourself that the boat and motor is the or was the problem, you have an excuse each time you go fishing in a boat with a motor. Perhaps next time it will be the sun, the moon, the rain, or the wind.

It was not the boat and motor.

If a trolling motor spooked them you would not catch anything in Ky lake. I have caught fish with the tolling motor running wide open.   I also don't believe a Depth Finder spook them

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Oddly, the proof that motor sound "attracts" fish is greater than proof to the contrary.

In saltwater, we used to keep the lures at the edge of whitewater on the second or third wave.

Many bluewater species gravitate to propeller disturbance and propwash,

just like whitetail deer that gravitate to the sound of a chainsaw.

            In freshwater as well, when trolling for northern pike I always keep one lure about 20 feet abaft,

and this isn't an electric motor but a gasoline engine.

As for depth sounders, mine goes on as soon as the motor is started and invariably stays on all day long.

Every fish I ever caught has most likely passed through my transducer cone.

Roger

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Actually I have proof that is does spook the bass. I was fishing the delaware river last summer for smallies and I was in a cove when, I know this sounds ridiculous but it is true, a smallmouth came to the surface, peaked his head out of the water and asked me if I could turn off my trolling motor because his kids were trying to sleep. Like any decent man would do I apologized but I did ask him if all bass were bothered by trolling motors and he said " Get lost loser!!". This is a true story.

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Actually I have proof that is does spook the bass. I was fishing the delaware river last summer for smallies and I was in a cove when, I know this sounds ridiculous but it is true, a smallmouth came to the surface, peaked his head out of the water and asked me if I could turn off my trolling motor because his kids were trying to sleep. Like any decent man would do I apologized but I did ask him if all bass were bothered by trolling motors and he said " Get lost loser!!". This is a true story.

You know. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time too and no one ever beleives me. Glad to see I'm not the only one. :-? I was beginning to think I was a little weird.

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Out here we had a new lake open up a few years ago, Diamond Valley. A few had fished it and had incredible days. When the lake had its grand opening and there were tons of boats on the lake hardley anybody caught a fish. The lake went from 50-100 fish days per man to 1-2 fish per man. It took a little while for the fish to get used to all the boats and now the lake is normal. My point is if those fish have never seen or heard a boat in a small pond there is a very good chance it spooked them. It is very easy to test your theory though. Fish from shore and if you still cach nothing or get any bites all your fish died or you suck.  :)

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I would also have to say that considering the small size of the pond(5 acres) and fairly shallow water that a 10 ft jon boat with a trolling motor whizzing over their head would definately put the fish on edge. Especially in an aluminum boat. I have a little 12 footer that I use occasionally, and if you drop a little  1/8oz. jig on the deck it sounds like bomb going off, let alone tackle box lids opening and rods slamming around.

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In some instances I say yes in the ultra clear water lakes as both sound and shadows spook fish. In shallow water anything constant should not spook fish. I try to come in from farther away with the trolling motor to the area I really wabt to fish to try and get the fish accustom to the noise. With the motor on low and constant I have caught more bass than on high in short burts. However the 2 biggest bass in tournaments this year came off of weed mat with the trolling motor on. I believe they will be spooked but presenting the right lure and tactic you cann get them to bite.

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i dont think the trolling motor alone will not spoke the fish if it is run on low and constant. I think that a sudden noise such as dropping something in the boat or hitting the side of the boat with a jig is as bad as a trolling motor. If you watch baitfish near the surface they will scatter at the least little bumping noise in the boat. Regardless i try to be as quiet as possible when fishing shallower areas.

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OK, I think many of you have confirmed my hypothesis.  I'll never put another boat in that pond.

To George Welcome - Thank you for providing me with a list of potential excuses.  I assume that you have used them extensively and successfully, otherwise you would not be recommending them to me.

Thanks to All,

Mike

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My point was that noise is just another excuse but you take it the way you want to.

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What you need to do in clear water is just back away from your target that you want to fish. If your right on top of your fish adjust your trolling speed to slow or just fast enough to get by on. If you are fishing heavy thick cover the fish are not move much because they will feel safe but the strike zone will be small. In stained to muddy water I wouldn't worry about it much unless you tend to bang the prop on the bottom a lot. Try to fish in front of the boat and not to the side if your just buzzing around with crankbaits or other moving baits. When you have a small body of water a noisy trolling motor is either going to make the fish hunker down in cover or head for an escape route to deep water. If you back off in the deeper water casting to the shallow areas your not going to bug the fish that much. If your trolling motor has a small ninja prop change it to a normal sized prop because it takes less power to move the boat. If all else fails position your boat and drift through the area. If the area is real shallow invest in a push pole.

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Hey Avid I would imagine the noise in your canoe is worse than any thing under it

The noise from Avid's creaky shoulder is enough to scare any fish away.   ;)

I believe that fish in a lake or pond that aren't familiar with the trolling motor sound would be skittish until they became used to it.  If fish are in heavy cover I don't think it is too big of a deal; otherwise, if you use a trolling motor to move in close to cover, flippin' and pitchin' would be much less successful.  I think Chris had some good points, as usual.  Just use common sense and try to make as little noise as possible under the water.  

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