Lake trout are a popular catch for many reasons. They are notorious for putting up a good fight, which is always appealing. Also, lake trout that feed on other fish have the potential to grow quite large, tipping the scales with weights over 25 pounds quite often. If you have aspirations of landing one of these trophy fish, then take these lake trout fishing tips with you on your next outing to try out.
Lake Trout Characteristics
This species of trout live their lives in the cold waters of deep lakes, mostly in Canada, Alaska and Northeast America. Lake Trout can be found at depths to 100 feet, but the rule of thumb is that they will be found where the temperature is between 40 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Because this zone changes with the season, so does the strategy for finding and catching these trout. For example, as soon as the ice leaves the surface of the lake, the fish will be found in the top 15 feet of water. However, in the middle of the spring season, they will have moved down to a 30 to 50 foot depth. In the summer, as the water temperatures continue to rise, the Lake Trout will drop down to where the colder water is, between 50 and 100 feet below the surface. However, they will also be found in that 50 degree layer of water also, primarily if they are feeding. This is because the bait-fish that make up much of their diet are at this level. Furthermore, as the seasons change to fall, and the temperature begins to drop, the trout will move back toward the surface, staying in their 40 to 52 degree comfort zone. In September and October, these fish will spawn, depositing up to 20,000 eggs! Interestingly, they usually spawn only every other year, one reason it is so important to protect these beautiful fish.
Proven Techniques for Success
Many fishermen have good luck catching Lake Trout by trolling. Some bottom-fish with jigs or bait-fish, others prefer to use large spoons attached to down-riggers. The largest Lake trout results usually come off of herring or smelts from deep in the lake. Fishing techniques change some with the weather, so be sure to be prepared with the best method for the time you are out.
For example, in the spring, just after ice-out, Lake trout are moving along the shoreline, in the shallows between the surface and about 15 feet. Until the water temperature begins to rise, this will be where you can find them, and using cut bait or minnows with a float will give you great results. If you prefer to use a lure, long-line trolling with a spoon or minnow type plug or crank-bait works great, especially along break-lines, points and bays. Trolling in low light conditions is ideal. This would include rainy, cloudy or foggy days, or early morning and evening times.
As the calendar moves into summer, the water warms, and the trout drop deeper. Along the rocky bluffs, points and drop-offs, you will find them in the 50 to 100 foot depth. Use trolling down-riggers and 3-way swivels to show off your best spoons and crank-baits. A 3-way swivel is standard practice for Lake trout fishing, and is not as difficult to set up as you might think. It involves a swivel with 3 different lines attached to it. The first is the main line, which joins the swivel to the reel. Use 10-12 pound test line for this part. The second line going off from the swivel is called the drop line, and attaches to your sinker with a 3 foot length of 8 pound mono-filament line. You can vary the weight depending on how slow or fast you are trolling, and how deep you want to go. The third, and final line that is attached to the swivel is the one you secure your lure to. Use a leader made of fluorocarbon, about 4 or 5 feet long, and attach a good snap swivel, which will allow you to remove and replace lures quickly and easily.
Moving on To The Fall Season
Once the temperatures begin dropping in the fall, you can expect the Lake trout to start to come back up to the shallow water in preparation for spawning. Lake trout fishing season closes as spawning season begins, because they are easy to catch during this time, and care is given to protect them. Your methods for the fall will be the same as during the spring, and often with better results.
Your choice of which lure to use will depend on a number of factors. Depth, size of trout, time of year and what bait-fish are present, all contribute to your decision. Asking the local tackle shop, fish and game staff, ranger or fellow anglers often is rewarded with key information about what lure is hot at the time.
One piece of equipment that is highly recommended when fishing for Lake trout is a depth finder. You don’t need this for other species of trout, but being able to spot where the schools of bait fish are located is key for Lake trout. You want to target the waters just below the area the bait-fish are in, because that is where the trout will be found. Start by looking in the 40 to 60 foot depth zone.
Final Lake Trout Fishing Tips
If your personality is one that is known to be stubborn, persistent and patient, you have all the makings to be a great Lake trout fisherman! These fish require you to stick with it, because their feeding times can start and stop without warning. You can be fishing for days, without any luck, and all of a sudden, they start hitting like mad. A couple hours later, they completely stop again. This is part of the reason that Lake Trout have a reputation as being harder to catch than other trout species. But if you keep at it, it is all worth it when you catch these wonderful fish!