DECATUR — I wouldn’t characterize Denny Hettig as a mad scientist, but the guy is always experimenting. Like the other day, when we met up for one of our typical bluegill-trolling expeditions on a smallish Van Buren County Lake and he handed me a rod with an unorthodox (for him) bait tied on.
Unlike Hettig’s typical offering — his own (Bo’s Bluegill Buster) down-sized crawler harness — the bait he handed me had just a single hook behind the beads and spinner. He told me to put a half of a red worm on it. And we started moving slowly with the electric trolling motor, I caught four bluegills before he even had a hit on his two-hook rig.
“There’s a big bed of mayflies here and when the mayflies are hatching, the fish are keyed into them,” Hettig said. “They don’t want anything else and this is the closest thing to resembling those mayflies coming up off the bottom.”
Turns out the single-hook rig he’d handed me was simply one of his harnesses that had broken, but he decided to try it when he noticed the mayfly hatch. It worked.
Hettig’s trolling approach is so simple it’s almost hard to believe it isn’t a standard go-to technique for everyone once the ‘gills have finished bedding for the year. Hettig trolls open water, ignoring the weed beds or changes in bottom structure that most fishermen live by. He rigs up with a pencil weight — anywhere from 1/16th to 1/4th ounce on a sliding snap swivel above the swivel on the end of his line to which he attaches his worm harness. He drops the trolling motor and starts off moving slowly — around 1 mile an hour — as soon as he gets the boat off the launch ramp.