Lake Trout Facts – Fishing For Lake Trout
Lake trout are one of North America’s largest growing freshwater fish. The fact is that not many people fish for lake trout because most anglers don’t know that much about them. Lake trout must have cold water in order to survive, and this relegates them to Canada and northern United States in deep lakes. Lake trout are a mystery to many because unless you’re fishing for them in the deep waters, you won’t begin to sniff them. Many fishermen believe that you need downriggers and heavy tackle in order to fish for lake trout. That’s simply not true, in fact, lake trout can be taken on light spinning tackle and fly rods in the spring when they are shallow. It’d behove you to learn a little about the lake trout, and add them to your angling repertoire.
Lake Trout Fishing Facts
|Nicknames:||laker, salmon trout, mackinaw, gray trout, togue|
|Range:||Canada , northern United States in and around the Great Lakes , New England and states to the west around the Rocky Mountains and in Alaska|
|Habitat:||deep lakes with cold water, 40-55 degree water temp, cold, still, well oxygenated waters of oligotrophic lakes below the thermocline|
|Spawn:||early fall during the nighttime hours over larger rocks and boulders in which the males clean prior to females releasing their eggs|
|Baits& Lures:||shiny spoons, jigging spoons, bucktail jigs, large minnow-like lures and live/dead fish bait such as ciscoes|
|Primary Prey:||adults eat other fish, including ciscoes, alewives, smelt, sculpin, kokanee, tullibee, whitefish, sticklebacks, grayling, herring while younger smaller lake trout feed on zooplankton, insect larvae, crustaceans, snails, freshwater shrimp and other aquatic invertabrates|
|Supreme Fishing Times:||early spring shortly after ice out and during the fall season when water cools down again|
|Size Range:||2 to 3 pounds all the way up to 50+ pounds, the average lake trout life span is 25 to 30 years, but can live as long as 60 years. 20 pound lake trout are generally considered “trophy” lake trout in most angler’s opinion. 17-27” is typical|
|Table Fare:||oily skin and flesh and is often baked, as it is naturally marinated with its own oils, therefore it stays moist through the cooking process. Tastes much like rainbow trout.|
|Difficulty to Catch:||moderate to difficult during the summer when waters are warmer, easy to moderate in the spring and fall when they follow the colder waters closer to the surface|
|Initial Investment in Equipment:||low to medium. Light tackle can be used to get started, but down rigging equipment to fish larger lakes with heavier rods and reels will increase the cost.|
Lake Trout Basics – Fishing For Beginners
What Do You Need to Start Fishing for Lake Trout?
Medium action spinning rod and reel combo with 6 to 8 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line. Jigging spoons, bucktail jigs, Storm jigging plastic paddletails, trolling spoons and in-line sinkers.
If you’re fishing for the trophy lake trout, you should have a little heavier equipment. In this case, you may want to invest in a medium to heavy action casting rod and reel combo with 12 to 15 pound test fishing line. The lures will be the same, but you may want to increase the size of the lures as were mentioned above.
You can get started fishing for lake trout on the bare necessities by fishing with live or dead bait. Your fishing rod of choice with a slip sinker and barrel swivel setup with a bare hook with a frozen or salted cisco/tulibee on the end of a three to four foot leader will do just the trick.
Depending on the time of year you’re fishing for lake trout, you may need heavier sinkers to get the lure or bait down to the depths that the lake trout are occupying. Downriggers may be helpful depending on your situation, but not necessary to initially begin lake trout fishing.
Where to Fish for Lake Trout?
You need to fish for lake trout in deep lakes with cold water in Canada or northern United States. Make sure you confirm that the lake you plan to fish does indeed harbor lake trout, because it takes a deep lake with access to cold oxygenated water for lake trout to survive and thrive.
All of the Canadian provinces have lake trout, and most all of the lakes in Canada meet the water temperature requirements of a lake trout, but not all meet the maximum depth requirement. In general, a lake must be at least 60 feet deep or so in order for lake trout to be present and survive.
Fish for lake trout in deep water during the summer next to steep rock walls and dropoffs. Most often the lake trout will be near the bottom, and most definitely below the thermocline.
During the spring and fall however, lake trout can be caught in much shallower water…20 feet or less near shorelines on reefs and rock piles when the surface water temperature is colder.
When Should You Fish for Lake Trout?
Spring lake trout fishing is generally the best because you can troll in shallow water with diving crankbaits imitating minnows and other fish that lake trout naturally prey on. It’s easier to troll in shallower water and takes less equipment and you can cover a large section of lake in short order when the lake trout are up shallower.
Fall is another good time to fish for lake trout as this is when they come to shallower water again after the warmer summer. As the water temperature on the surface begins to cool in the fall, the lake trout come up from their deep water summer haunts to spawn in the 20 to 40 foot range on rocky substrate around large boulders and rubble. Fishing becomes slightly easier when the lake trout are shallower, and therefore a good time of year to fish for lake trout.
Summer lake trout fishing can also be great, but you must know how deep you need to fish in order to find them.
The season will dictate where you fish for lake trout, and to a certain degree, what lures and bait you use to catch them.