What’s not to like about a mid-winter adventure? Last weekend found us far north, nearly to Canada! We were fishing the boundary waters targeting Crappies, and my favorite, Lake Trout.
When you get this far in the northwoods, almost all boundary water lakes contain Lake Trout. There is no shortage of lakes to fish here in Ely, Mn. The lake we were fishing this trip was a lake we had fished this year and many previous years, and the great thing about fishing the boundary waters is not only the beautiful country, but also the fact that you will probably be fishing alone.
During the summer months, most lake trout will be found in deeper, colder water below the thermocline. During the winter months however, you may have more success fishing lake trout in shallower, overlooked water. Fishing shallower water in winter months may be more efficient, too. You will have the opportunity to fish smaller, low profile baits. From experience, I have caught lake trout in all depths. During this trip, all of our fish but one came from 60ft of water or less. To locate lake trout, fish structured area or sharp breaks. The area we fished this trip contained a very sharp break. In fact, the vexilar would not mark bottom clearly because of the sharp drop.
As far as tackle goes, we were using 38-42in medium ice rods. Fishing lake trout will require a bit heavier tackle, and a 42in medium ice rod is absolutely heaven. Your going to keep the strength you need for reeling in trout, while keeping the sensitivity you need to jig and set the hook. For reels, use baitcasters rigged with 10-12lb test.
You also can be very effective using set lines while trout fishing. More often than not, I find set lines to catch more fish than jigging. It all really depends on the fishes mood, but this tactic can be crucial to your setup. Using tip-ups can be used as a set line, and if you watched our video, my dad set up one of his new favorites, the “Ice-Rigger”. If your going to use tipups, make sure you have a lot of 30-40lb line on the spool. While using set lines, it doesn’t really matter how deep you put them, but try to keep them above the 40ft mark. We put our set lines down 20-30ft in the video. Use a sucker minnow and hook a plain hook through the dorsal fin, but make sure to not kill the sucker because you will want him swimming like crazy down there just asking to get eaten!
Since you will find these fish in deeper water, 20-80ft, lures that sink fast will be very efficient. Larger lures, such as the airplane jig, work very well for lake trout. Another jig that we have come to fish heavily now is the River-2-Sea. This jig has a very attractive presentation with the rattle it makes and the action it provides to attract Lake Trout to your jig. While using an airplane jig, tip it with a minnow head. The River-2-Sea does not need to be tipped with anything. Another classic lure is the Blood Red Tube jig. Those should be tipped with a full minnow or at least minnow head. Jigging for lake trout is my favorite, especially when you see the red mark on your sonar screen appear just 20ft below your jig! Get ready and hold on! Lake trout will SMACK your jig, and thats probably why I love catching them. It’s almost like they have an attitude!
Fishing lake trout has become a very popular fish to target. Including myself, even at a young age, I began fishing lake trout just a couple years ago. They are a fun fish to catch, and also serve well. There are many ways to catch lakers, but these couple tactics have worked best for me and my dad. If you have any questions, PM me here! Check out the Lake trout/crappie video here on the site too!