What is Power Trolling?
Trolling, simply put, is the art of dragging baited hooks or lures through the water in hopes of attracting feeding salmon. This has been a method of commercially harvesting salmon in Alaska for over 100 years. Early trollers used only a few hooks and small boats rowed or sailed to propel the bait through the water. While the equipment has evolved and we no longer have to pull each single hooked line in by hand, the basic principles guiding those early fishermen to their catch are the same principles we practice today.
As more efficient methods for catching fish were developed, such as seining or gill-netting (net fisheries), trolling was left behind in much of the world as an ineffective and low volume fishery. However, here in Southeast Alaska, trollers have remained an integral part of the commercial fishery due to the low impact nature of trolling and the quality of fish our catch provides for our customers. Most troll-caught fish are captured on the open ocean, during the salmon migration, just before the fish begin moving inshore to their spawning grounds. During this time salmon are in their full vigor and feeding heavily, which allows us to take advantage of this feeding activity. Alaska accounts for nearly 40% of the world's wild salmon market and troll-caught fish make up only 10% of the total Alaskan catch of all salmon species. Trollers can best target king and silver salmon by these methods, but the other three species (pink, chum, and red) can also be caught by troll gear. Each species, and every new day, requires trollers to test and vary baits, lures, and habitats to catch their fish. Because of this, trolling in particular requires an intimate knowledge of the feeding behaviors and habitats of these species. By catching individual fish on hooks, trollers avoid the bruising and injuries that may result from net fisheries and that may reduce the quality of the fish provided to customers.