Authored by Douglas Mefford in Fishing
Published on 03-08-2009
Fly-fishing for lake trout is an ancient sport and a distinctive method of both relaxing and bringing in food for the table. Some of the angling technology has changed over the centuries but the basic techniques still apply. Unless your fishing area has frozen over, lake trout can be fished year-round.
Lake trout are known by many local nicknames; paperbelly, char, humper, grey trout or simply ‘fat’ all refer to this highly prized freshwater inhabitant. They can be found across the North American continent in all cool water locations such as Canada and the great Lakes region. The northern states of Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington are well-known lake trout locations as well as most of New England. There are some specific locations in such southern reaches as Colorado and Utah to the west and Tennessee and Kentucky in the east that can also support lake trout.
Hunting for lake trout requires knowledge of the waters you are fishing. While the lake trout generally prefers deep water, there are conditions that will bring it much nearer the surface. A spring-fed lake, for example, may draw them closer to the surface to make use of the new food sources being brought in from upstream. Areas of water plant growth as well as obstacles such as shoals, rocks or submerged debris will also draw the lake trout to these areas of higher baitfish concentrations.
Fishing for lake trout can be done from the bank but for best results one should hunt them from a boat. This allows the angler to get in close to water weed formations without becoming entangled. Investing in an underwater depth finder will help you troll along-side underwater barriers rather than risk your gear by crossing over them. Warm weather will usually drive lake trout to deeper areas as they follow baitfish. Generally they stay deep during the summer unless a warm rain has obscured the direct sunlight and brought the baitfish to the top. You can then find them sometimes right on the surface. Colder, windy days that chop the water are not good days to hunt lake trout as they avoid such conditions if at all possible.
The preferred lures for lake trout include the weighted-body jig. Since lake trout are predators, they are most interested in lures that can be manipulated to imitate their preferred food. The lure can be designed to offer some motion of its own but it takes manipulation of your rod to give the full effect of a wounded minnow. Live bait must be used the same way. If you are fishing with minnows, attach them to your hooks in such a way as to allow the fish to move about. Placing one upside down is most efficacious for this purpose. In deeper water alongside submerged barriers, a slower, steady swim effect can help attract your prey to the lure.
Whether afoot or in a boat, trolling your lure slowly across the bottom of the fishing area needs practice to find the best speed at which you can imitate the movements of live bait-fish. Once hooked, the lake trout provides an exciting battle and once in the larder, makes for a very high nutrition meal to top off this ancient traditional experience.