This month we pose some questions about early summer trolling for rockfish to Captain Billy Gee, of Ebb Tide Charters based in Deale, MD.

charter captain billy gee and his favorite lures
Captain Billy, one of his best buddies, and one of his favorite hand-tied lures.

Q: What are your top two or three trolling lures for rockfish in June?

A: I tie my own and I do have some favorites. My one-ounce black head/white mouth Pac Man with a green glow skirt, and a one-ounce purple head/yellow mouth chugger with a chartreuse skirt. Both are rigged on umbrella rigs with Tsunami Shad. I also throw in a white and pink one- or two-ounce Pac Man with a white “fish scale” skirt early in the season. And when fish are loading up on May worms be sure to throw out a few red hoses, they will never let you down.

Q: Do you pull planer boards at this time of year?

A: We all know they are a pain and a nuisance so I try not to, but some days the fish get finicky or aren’t schooled up the way you want them and they do catch fish. I shorten up how far I put them out and only run five to eight lines off them (as compared to 10 to 12 historically, for trophy season). The go-to setup is one- and two-ounce tandems with four to 12 ounces of weight. But again, if its May worm time don’t hesitate to drop a few hoses out there.

Q: What portion of the water column are you focusing on?

A: The one that has fish in it—with today’s electronics we know where the fish are, and then it’s a matter of speed up, slow down, or make a little turn to put your baits where they are. Don’t be afraid to turn when you mark fish, it speeds up the outside lines and slows down your inside lines so you can cover different depths.

Q: Since you mention speed, just what speed are you shooting for?

A: I’ve had days when you can forget about it if you’re not doing less than two knots, but in general 2.5 to 3.0 knots is a good starting point. The tide and wind dictate it some days. Just watch your lines and they will tell you if you’re doing something wrong. You don’t want them stretched out like a banjo string but you also don’t want to be cleaning off sea grapes every 10 minutes. This is something you’re going to have to play with on your specific boat to get dialed in.

Q: Open Mic – if you could say anything to all the anglers out there what would it be?

A: This isn’t a spring tactic, it’s an all-time tactic: Make friends and join a fishing group. Most people have full time jobs and can only get out once or twice a month, so you can’t keep up with where the fish are (Editor’s Note: and sign up for the FishTalk fishing reports!!) Go to a fishing club meeting like the Pasadena Sportfishing Group, make friends, and get phone numbers. That buddy you meet might one day put you on the fish of a lifetime — or become a friend for a lifetime.

You can reach Capt. Billy and Ebb Tide Charters via the website, on Facebook, or call (410) 703-2549. This winter look for him at the local fishing shows, where you can find his custom hand-tied lures.