Stealth Fishing with Electric Trolling Motors

by Holly Dukeson

The benefits of using electric trolling motors and electric engines for anglers, with their reduced noise on the water, avoiding spooking fish, is priceless. Writer Mat Hewetson now considers them a must have for any boat angler.

There are many new exciting electric outboards and motors coming onto the market for boat propulsion, but electric trolling motors such as Minn Kota and MotorGuide have been around for a long time with American anglers the leading market for using them. Kiwi anglers have been relatively late adopters of the technology for fishing, especially in saltwater but they are now becoming a standard item on new boat builds, just like a chartplotter is a given. Several years ago, I saw their benefits immediately when I was invited to fish aboard a 6m Surtees that had a Minn Kota mounted on its bow. We had shot out off Tauranga to fish a couple of marks for bluenose and the electric motor held us exactly over the spot in 300m of water and we almost instantly pulled up three bluenose on just one drop! It really opened my eyes to what they could do and since then, I have been a big spokesperson for using them fishing.


Being a keen softbaiting and lure angler almost exclusively when on the boat these days, I deploy a Minn Kota on my Oceanpro centre console for stealth. Venturing into the shallows (under 10m) around offshore islands or the coastline to work softbaits for fish is a successful approach. It produces even better results when you limit your noise levels. This is why kayak anglers catch a lot of big fish, they have almost no noise and can quietly work their softbaits or lures along the coastline. I like to cut my outboard from 50-60m out to drift in and then use the electric motor to move around stealthy and cast around the area, until I find fish. Then I spot lock the boat to land fish and/or keep casting in the general area where I just had strikes. This means you aren’t starting the outboard up to move about and the noise can really put fish off in the shallows. When fishing in shallow harbours I also like to deploy the electric motor as we drift along, and spot lock our position once we get interest in our lures. Recently on a late spring trip to the Far North to fish off Rangiputa in the Ranganunu Harbour, I was fishing with local Craig Jenkins, and we found a good patch of big trevally in under 5m of water that were feeding right up on top of a sand bank and out of the deeper channel. The strong wind gusts and 4-5knot current that day was pushing us along too quickly, so we used the Minn Kota to hold us over the sand bank and keep catching trevs on our softbaits. Even if you aren’t a keen softbait or lure angler, you can use an electric trolling motor to lock your position over a reef or a mark to berley on and drop baits back. The motors are so quiet, and they don’t have the same sound as an anchor rope and chain in the water that can spook fish. Remember sounds travel up to four times faster underwater than in the air!


The wireless systems used on trolling motors are incredible with many options and functions. Using my Minn Kota as an example – with i-Pilot it helps to deliver speed, steering, Spot-Lock, and your ability to record and retrace paths on the water. With new Bluetooth connectivity to provide a fast, secure connection and allow for easy software updates via your Apple or Android device to add new features to your system. Spot-Lock is a GPS anchor hold on your fishing spot, using state-of-the-art algorithms to provide an accurate hold on the water. With i-Tracks a hardware and software algorithm that allows you to hold over spots more accurately, while Go-To feature will return you to your i-Track or Spot-Lock position automatically by activating your motor. Minn Kota’s CoPilot function also means you can control speed, steering, prop on/ off and high-speed bypass from your i-Pilot wireless remote, so you can keep on fishing anywhere on the boat. While I have been most familiar with using Minn Kota’s with our fishing, there are now many more options now available for kiwi boaties worth considering. There are specific electric trolling motors and many brands distributing electric motors, offering the stealthy reduced noise option, not spooking fish on your arrival. Do your research online, ask questions to any boat owners you know who have an electric trolling motor and talk to your local boat dealer for helpful information about sizes and installation.

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