Before now I have owned a leaky jon boat (the previous owner named it the “Happy Hooker”) a hobie kayak and now the “Reel Stupid” a well worn 20 foot center console that my wife was super pissed about me buying. Whatever she’ll get over it but now I have all this fishing to do and all this ground to cover. With that new found freedom comes the ability to employ different techniques to get fish in the boat. Trolling for me meant pedaling my kayak as hard as could while pulling around a deep diving plug not without success I might add but I was limited. Now I have the ability to troll popular lures like umbrella rigs, stretch plugs, bunker spoons, and the new crowd favorite Mojo Rigs I just have to figure out how…
The spring bass run in the Raritan Bay has been great so far this year and I had a chance to try out some of these techniques in the past few weeks with some success but not to the level I had hoped. My first trip out was successful as we were able to bring a few fish to the boat in the middle of the Saturday parking lot but the fish would only take an umbrella rig that felt like I was dragging around a cinderblock. I kept hearing how well everyone was doing fishing Mojo rigs and I was determined to get in on the action. At this point these rigs have quickly become the go to trolling rig for just about every striped bass fisherman
on the east coast. The Mojo itself is basically just a giant bucktail head, a heavy swing hook, and skirt tied inverted so the hairs flair out more giving it a larger profile in the water and they range in size from 2oz to a 46oz cannonball. There a broad range of options in rigging these oversized jig heads some people rig them as single Mojo usually a larger sized heads of 20+ oz with a large rubber shad or soft plastic added to the trailing hook. By far the most popular is the tandem rig consisting of a heavy duty 300lb 3-way swivel tied to your main line and 2 lengths of 100lb mono, a 12-15ft length on top and a 4-8ft length on bottom. Tied to the short bottom line is a heavy mojo head ranging from 10-460z depending on the depth and what you choose to use on your trailing line. On your longer trailing line you can pretty much experiment with anything but the most popular choices are swim shads, diving plugs, bunker spoons, and a second lighter mojo head. Keeping in mind that the lighter your trailing lure is the heavier Mojo head you will need to use to keep your line down. I prefer to troll with 2 S&S Rattlin’ Mo heads rigged with 9″ rubber shad bodies with. You can use any combination of Mojos like 12oz/6oz or 18oz/6oz but the lightest combination you can use to get to your desired depth is going to be the most fun to fish.
On my last trip to the Raritan Bay I finally found the success I was looking for trolling these Mojo rigs. It was a sloppy windy day and I was fishing by myself so I decided to start out fishing one line with a chartreuse tandem rig 16oz/4oz. After a while of poking around I finally found some serious concentrations of bunker in 38ft of water and shortly after my rod went down and for the rest of the day it was fish on every time I passed through a school. It sounds simple and really it is the hardest part is getting your lure in the strike zone but once you find that spot its game on. As a point of reference I was fishing a rig that weighed a combined total of 20 ounces in 38 feet of water and I found that with 175-185 feet of line out (not including the rig) my lures were right were I wanted them to be just about 5 feet off the bottom. I have found the best way to start is to drop your rig to the bottom while the boat is either stopped or barely moving and then lock up your reel, bring the boat to trolling speed 2.5-3.5kts and drop the rig to the bottom one more time. If you see your rigs are bouncing off the bottom than give the reel a few cranks and keep repeating the process until you find that spot you are looking for which is typically just a few feet off the bottom. This is where reels with line counters and metered braid can help you find that spot and get back to it very quickly without having to slow the boat down. I use Power Pro Depth Hunter braid which is color coded and marked so that I can remember exactly how deep I was when I got a strike and I can reset to that exact depth without question. If you find the fish moving up in the water column give the reel a crank or two until you get hit again and before you know it you will have a very good feeling for how deep that Mojo rig is running.
Some days the fish want one thing and other days they want another but I think more often than not if there is bunker present a hungry Striped Bass will not hesitate to take a well presented MOJO rig. If am going to be trolling there will always be a MOJO in the spread to get the day started and it will probably stay in the spread. Good Luck finding your “MOJO”