Icing Lake Trout!
As in most species, it pays to be mobile when trying to find active fish. It’s not unusual to try at least ten different areas in a full day on the hard water. Locations will change depending on time of year and the type of lake that you are fishing. On a crystal clear Canadian Shield Lake with plenty of deep water there are a number of different areas to try and variety always increases your chances of contacting active fish. I usually fish a medium sized Shield Lake that holds a decent population of lake trout and plenty of deep water which helps produces some large fish as well. Over the years I have tried a multitude of spots but have had the most success in three different types of structures.
• extended flats in thirty to fifty feet of water
• shoreline points that drop off into deep water and
• sharp dropping granite bluffs that lake trout use to herd ciscoes.
LAKE TROUT LURE SELECTION:
Having fished lake trout for about thirty years now through the ice, there are always things to learn and new lures to try. According to my friends the Koppers Live Target lipless rattlebait in the gizzard shad pattern has been catching some fish . It has been one of the best lures for big walleyes on Lake Winnipeg and this has been transferred over to the lake trout box.
On my second last trip for trout a couple of years ago I had tried a number of lures which included a Berkley Power white tube jig, a Lindy Walleye Flyer jig and a small Swedish Pimple spoon until I finally hit upon something that worked!
Tying on a silver three-eights ounce Fire Eye Minnow from Northland tipped with a Berkley Platinum Sparkle Nugget I started aggressively fishing the lure with a three foot lift and drop. I was using a little longer ice fishing rod than usual, a luxury of fishing outside. Over the years of ice fishing lake trout, I have found that if you can flutter a spoon for a longer period of time as you jig it, the chances are better to trigger a bite. Big lake trout love to pick off injured ciscoes and tullibees that flutter towards the bottom after being attached by aggressive schools of high riding lakers. About ten minutes after tying on the lure my line started to leave my spool of my spinning reel at a rapid rate. This fish had grabbed my spoon on the drop and was heading away from my ice hole at a alarming pace. In fact, it was so sudden and solid that I didn’t even have a chance to set the hook.
Last year on Clearwater Lake, I learned another critical piece of information for catching lake trout through the ice. A key piece of information that I learned on this day came from Dale, a guy that not only caught the most trout but did it using a hockey stick. Yes that is right a hockey stick, or at least the handle of one. He used it to store his line, while jigging his tube bait by hand, the same method he used to land his fish. Dale explained to me how he made sure the bait would glad forward and not spiral, the key element in catching lake trout on this particular lake.
Further to that, most of my success in catching lake trout through the ice over the years has been with baits that glide and dart through the water column. Baits like the Walleye flyer jig from Lindy, tipped with small Berkley power grub with the tail cut off, then tipped with small slice of sucker cut in a thin triangle (belly piece is always the best) . The key when rigging your jigs is not to overpower the lure so it becomes unbalanced. Smaller airplane jigs still catch trout as do jigging spoons but these are aggressive presentation for aggressive trout. On Clearwater on this particular trip, the fish were anything but. A fluorocarbon leader and finesse techniques were required to put fish on the ice.