Hook into an ice out lake trout this spring

Ice-out lake trout might not be your grandpa’s fish, but even grandpas like to fish them.

by the Ontario Fishing Guys

Nothing gets our fishing juices flowing more than the thought of ice-free lakes after a long cold winter. For many, targeting lake trout is the last thing on the must fish for list following the long winter months. We are here to tell you that you are missing out.

These are not your Grandpa’s lake trout

These lake trout are not the summer, 100 feet down, head shakes twice and fights like an old rubber boot lakers. These are spunky, hard pulling and pretty easy to catch trout. Spring lakers are less fatty, and when you know how to clean them properly, are very good on the plate.

As soon as the ice leaves the lake and it is safe to launch the boat, it is all hands on deck for some hot lake trout action. Lakers like water to be about 10°C, so you only have two to three weeks’ worth of action before the lake trout go too deep for your flatline.

Troll the shoal

Finding these fish is straightforward. Troll the shoals that are bordered by deeper water. Do not be afraid to fish under 20 feet of water. The lake trout will be feeding on the baitfish that have returned to the shallows as it warms up a few degrees. Just off the mouths of a creek or river that have a smelt run is also a must-fish. These trout, following a long and cold winter are all about one thing in the spring—feeding.

Nothing fancy about trolling for these ice-out beauties. We like to keep the speed up a bit over what we would do if downrigging for them deep during the summer months. Between 2 and 2.2 mph is what we have found to be the ideal speed to entice these feisty trout to strike. Just as you would flatlining for other fish, troll an ‘S’ pattern to give your lure the best chance at clean water. Lake trout are not as easily spooked as a rainbow but why not keep up the good habits.

Pull a plug

Most lures that resemble what the local lakers are feeding will work, but we have the most success by pulling a plug. The Rapala J9 or J11 is an old standby and can catch almost any fish. The J9 is our absolute favourite and its fluorescent goodness just can’t be beat.

The once famous Lyman in tiger pattern green has also served us very well. On a sidebar, Lyman is back, albeit with a plastic version of the brilliant wooden plug. We can’t wait to get our hands on some and test them out in comparison to the older model.

Like trolling for most fish, don’t fall into the cycle of using the same lure over and over. If you go 20 – 30 minutes without a strike, switch things up, try different colours, sizes and lures.

Most importantly, get outdoors and enjoy a beautiful spring day. Catching a few spunky lake trout along the way will make it that must sweeter.

Good luck, keep your rod bent and save a few for someone else.