Fishing Canada for Lake Trout
Just the idea of battling a huge lake trout lures anglers to all the remote lakes as far north as the Arctic Circle in Canada. These areas yield many 30 to 40 pound lunker lake trout each year.
In some areas in Canada, the lake trout are also called Mackinaw or grey trout, but the most common nickname given lake trout is simply lakers. Lake trout resemble brook trout, except the tails of lake trout are deeply forked, while those of the brook trout are nearly square. Lake trout in the Great Lakes are silvery-grey with white spots. Elsewhere, they have light spots on a background that may vary from dark green to brown or black.
Lake trout prefer water from 48 to 54F, colder than any other game fish. They will die if unable to find water under 65 degrees F. During summer month’s lake trout will descend to 200 feet in search of cooler water.
There are many lakes with water cold enough for lake trout, but lack oxygen in their depths. And as a result lake trout are restricted to mainly the cold, sterile lakes of the Canadian Shield, the Great Lakes and deep mountain lakes of the west.
Lake trout grow slowly in these frigid waters. In some lakes in Canada, a 10-pound lake trout might be 20 years or older. The age of a trophy lake trout may be 40 years or more. Because they grow so slowly there is always the danger that they could be over harvested.
Unlike most other species lake trout spawn in lakes rather than in rivers. Lake trout spawning occurs in the fall over a bottom of baseball to football sized; rocks. Water depth varies, but is usually 5 to 25 feet.
Lake trout have excellent vision, but because of the poor light at the depths they live, they rely on their sense of smell and on their lateral line to find food. In some water, they feed mainly on aquatic insects, worms and crustaceans. In other lakes they eat only fish, mainly ciscoes, smelt, and sculpin.
A lake trout, brook trout hy-brid, called splake, has been stocked in some northern lakes including Lake Huron. Splake mature earlier than lake trout and grow faster so they are less affected by fishing pressure.
Early spring just after ice out, is a great time for lake trout, they crowd into warmer water to feed closer to shore and remain in water 20 to 30 feet deep.
When lake trout move into shallow water in the spring and in the fall just before spawning, the best methods are casting with flashy spoons or still fishing with natural baits like smelts and strips of sucker meat.
Lake trout shy away from dark heavy lines, so use clear, low diameter line from 8 to 12 pond test is best. Most fishermen prefer medium action spinning tackle.
In years past heavy reels and wire line was the standard for catching lake trout in deep water. But now with the new equipment and techniques it is possible to fish deep with much lighter tackle. Downriggers, sonar and technology has made fishing for deep lake trout a lot easier.
Deep lake trout are frequently scattered and sluggish, so adding an attractor, such as a dodger can improve your success while trolling.
Vertical jigging for lake trout is also a popular method in fishing Canada’s north, works best with a lead head jig or vibrating blade. Simply lower the lure to the bottom; then reel it back up rapidly to get that strike.
Casting with heavy gold or silver spoons for lake trout is a proven technique when lake trout are concentrated off points, in narrows, along islands or over spawning reefs. Cast from a long distance away to prevent spooking the lake trout.
In the Great Lakes the lake trout have made a remarkable come-back after they were nearly wiped out by the sea lamprey and commercial fishing. Lake trout populations have been rebuilt by lamprey controls and restocking programs. These programs have been put in use both in Canada and the United States, both countries have been doing this for some time now and the lakes and anglers are enjoying the fruits of their efforts.
There is nothing like the feeling when you hook up with a nice sized lake trout on medium action fishing rig. So get out there and just enjoy nature and catch the trophy lake trout.
About the Author: Jack Phillips has been an avid Canadian angler for over 50 years. Fishing Canada provides solid advice for walleye, bass, pike, muskie, a variety of lake trout, arctic char bass and more. Idea's on when and where to go on your next trip to Canada. Ice fishing tips. Delicious fish recipes also!