Ontario’s pristine lakes offer world class fishing for a variety of fresh water species. The Ministry of Natural Resources has a soft spot for one species in particular, lake trout. Ontario lakes are home to 25% of the world’s lake trout populations. This is not the only amazing fact about lake trout from Ontario waters. Lake trout are definitely a true rarity. In fact they represent only 1% of all Ontario’s lakes. Since lake trout are a prized catch and my surrounding area (Sault Ste. Marie) has the highest concentration of lakes with populations of lake trout, I get the opportunity to fish these very plentiful fisheries.
Trolling is my most consistent method for catching lake trout. During the spring when water temps are still cool, lakers will be roaming the shallows looking for easy meals. During this time of year on some lakes, flat lining can be the easiest way to fool a lake trout or two. For the most part, I am using fairly heavy equipment for lake trout.
The reason for this is because of the lures and baits used. Gang trolls are a staple for many anglers when targeting lake trout. Although extremely effective they must be used with a heavy rod with heavy line. The resistance on these lures is extremely heavy which is caused by the multiple, large blades spinning. A quick fix to downsize your gang trolls for a presentation that can be used out of a small boat or canoe with light tackle is a simple task. Remove one blade and clevis off your gang troll and tie it onto a piece of 20# monofilament with a barrel swivel above and a snelled hook followed by a treble on the business end. Often times, I will add different colours of prism tape on my blades either at home before I head out or even in the boat during the day.
Even though downriggers are not always needed, I always have them on the boat. This is because even during ice out conditions, I have found and caught good numbers of fish in the 40-80 foot depth. Often these fish are tight to bottom and a downrigger will give you the opportunity to run your bait directly on or slightly above bottom. Another great asset for using downriggers is the added ability for tight, boat manoeuvres. Power turns, neutral drops and speed bursts are always incorporated in my trolling pattern for lakers, let alone any other species. Often these speed changes will trigger following fish into striking.
A day on the water chasing lake trout with a jig rod almost always entails deep water. Because of the deep water, braid or fused lines that offer no stretch is an absolute must. The advantages of these super lines are that they put you in direct contact with the fish. A three foot fluorocarbon leader attached to your braid with a small barrel swivel will help with stealth and line twist.
Jigging lures come in many different shapes, sizes and profiles. Typically, I will begin working a heavy vertical lure such as a swedish pimple or buzz bomb. With these heavy baits and braided line, I can keep direct contact with bottom, pounding the Swedish pimple looking for an aggressive strike. Dressing the treble hook with small plastics like a micro tube jig offers lake trout a bulkier presentation which quiet often is exactly what they are looking for. Other times when the fish are there but not responding to this presentation a fluttering jigging spoon such as a Williams can’t be beat. I like to work these methodically throughout the entire water column starting from the bottom and working up, ten feet at a time. Surprisingly enough, tackle more commonly used on the ice such as a jigging rapala can be just as effective from a boat. Either worked bare or tipped with a minnow head on the treble a jigging rapala often triggers even the most docile fish.
Take advantage of amazing lake trout fisheries Ontario has to offer. Contact your local MNR office and obtain a stock sheet for a complete list of the stocked lakes and give Ontario lake trout a try!
Lake Trout Tips and Tricks!
By…..: Tyler Dunn.