June 20, 2011

Trolley Fishing at Montrose Pier, Chicago

Editor's Note: We've had a number of readers curious to learn more about trolley fishing in Lake Michigan. Ron of Knotmyline.com, who fished from Montrose Pier as a kid, has given us kind permission to reprint this post, which includes an illustration of the setup.

Trolley Fishing at Montrose Pier

Some of my early memories are of fishing with my dad and brother on Montrose Pier. In those days it was a common practice to fish from the pier with a “trolley”. That practice is far less common these days. The last time I was there was in the 70s, and even then I saw only a few trolley anglers. A trolley was quite a complicated setup. You needed a spider anchor, about 100 yards of anchor line, a 2-3 ounce trolley, a 6 foot long sturdy wood pole, a 6-8 foot long piece of fish line with a snelled hook every foot or so attached to 100 yards of fish line, and a “bell’.

The spider anchor is thrown out into the water as far as a person can fling it. The arms of the anchor catch on debris on the bottom and the angler tightens the attached anchor line and ties it to the top of the pole.  The pole is fitted into slots in the concrete at the edge of the pier.  The weighted trolley is attached to the anchor line.  It has two wheels that sit atop the cord and its weighted body hangs under the line. The wheels roll along the anchor line as the angler raises or lowers the trolley.

The trolley is a good device that allows the angler to fish at varying depths in the water column depending on the spacing of the hooks and how far the trolley is permitted to ride down the anchor line.

The bell is screwed into the pole or some times into a weighted block of wood adjacent to the pole. The fishing line is attached to the bell and when a fish bites, the bell will vibrate and sound a “fish on” alert to the angler. When a school of fish – mostly Perch in those days – pass by they will be attracted to the baited hooks and it is not unusual to catch two or more fish on a single drop to the bottom.


Anonymous said...

Trolley fishing: It was still in use for smelt in the early 80s. For smelt we would use a net hanging from the trolleys, rather than hooks.

sturgo said...

I never tried this trolley approach on fishing. I think this is similar to a boating trip for fishing.


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