Nearshore trolling is one of the best ways to acclimate kids to fishing on a boat in the ocean.


One of the best aspects of nearshore trolling is that you don’t have to go far! Typically, trolling for bluefish and spanish mackerel is done within site of the beach and usually fairly close to an inlet.

The tidelines created from the dirty inshore water coming and going out of the inlet is a great place to start! This water is typically very nutrient rich and full of bait. The predator fish (blues, spanish, kings, cobia, etc) will usually be on the edge of this tide line waiting for their prey (bait fish). Trolling in and out of this tideline is a great place to start searching for a bite on the troll!




By far the most popular method for trolling for both spanish mackerel and bluefish (chopper blues) are using Clark Spoons. These are small, spoon-like lures that come in a wide variety of colors. The most popular Clark Spoon is probably the silver, followed by the gold Clark Spoon. Now they have all types of combinations with pink flash, green flash, blue flash, etc. Keep it simple and start with a few silver and a few gold Clark Spoons.



Two methods of getting the Clark Spoon to ride under the water include using a trolling weight or small (#1) planer. Either will be productive, try one or two of each and see what is working best on that particular day when trolling for spanish mackerel and bluefish.

If your trolling weight does not have some sort of swivel mechanism attached, tie a snap swivel to your mainline and then attach the weight. When using a planer, also attach a snap swivel to your mainline and then connect to the planer.

Once you have either a trolling weight or planer attached to your main line, you will need a 20 to 30 pound mono leader. You will need to experiment here, but it should be between 10 and 30 feet long. In very clear water with a bright sun, the longer leader may be needed to fool the spanish mackerel especially, but also the bluefish. On a cloudy day or with dirty water, you may be able to get away with a leader on the shorter end of the spectrum.

The end of your leader that will attach to the planer or trolling weight should have a snap swivel to connect to the weight or planer. You can then simply tie the other end to the Clark Spoon of your choice!

What speed to troll for spanish mackerel and bluefish? It depends! Your best bet is to vary your speed and trolling pattern until you find what is working on that particular day. Somewhere between 4 and 7 knots should be a good starting point.

Be sure to have some sort of landing net on board, because these fish are typically a little too small to gaff.



The best advice here is to use what you have! You can use small spinning set-ups up to larger conventional set-ups like a Speedmaster or Shimano TLD-15. Your mainline could be anything from about 8 pounds to 20 pounds. Keep in mind that a planer will put a lot of drag on your set-up, so you may want to stick to trolling weights for lighter tackle.


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The techniques and setups discussed here are not the only way, this is just what works for us!