Have you always wanted to fish for lake trout? Maybe you just don’t know how to get started. Either way, this is the guide for you.
What is a Lake Trout?
The lake trout is actually a Canadian freshwater fish. It’s more prevalent in North American lakes and it’s highly recognizable. It’s got a long and rounded shape and its tail is deeply forked. The lake trout family are not actually true trout, and the closest relative is actually the arctic char. Trout that live in different environments are known for having various color patterns or colorations. They usually try to camouflage themselves according to their surroundings. Lake trout often have pronounced markings and more vivid colorations. This usually signifies that the animal is ready to mate. Lake trout have fins that do not have spins, and all of them have an adipose fin that runs along the back. The pelvic fin sits well back on the body as well. The swim bladder for the lake trout is connected to the esophagus and this allows for rapid expulsion of air. Trout do not use their bladder as a device for oxygen, and instead, rely solely on their gills. Lake trout show no significant differences to other trout.
Where to Fish for Lake Trout
The lake trout is one of the biggest freshwater species out there and it prefers to live in large, deep lakes. You’ll often see trout where there is an abundance of insects, and where the water quality is high. Lake trout are native to Canada, Alaska, New England, Montana and the Great Lakes. They are native to American waters but they have been artificially stocked in South America, Asia and even New Zealand. Even though trout are continually moving around and looking for food, they will not usually stray far from a place that gives them some level of protection. Aquatic vegetation is often home to trout, with stumps and downed logs being popular hiding places. Lake trout tend to prefer cooler waters as well. This is usually around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that drop-offs and deep waters provide an excellent habitat for them to thrive in.
The great thing about lake trout is that you can fish them all year round. You will need to adjust your fishing method according to the season, but this is not difficult to do. When at a lower elevation, lake trout are far more active in the spring and the fall. The water is cold during these months and the fish like to be on the move. After the ice has melted, the trout will move closer to the surface, as the open surface will be cooler.
In the summer, lake trout gravitate towards the depths. This is the most challenging time to fish them.
Lake Trout Fun Facts
Over the last few decades, the Yellowstone National Park has become a hotspot for lake trout fishing, and they have since become a problem species. If you do hook a lake trout, it’s illegal for you to catch and release them. They are a threat to the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.
The lake trout has hybridized with the Brook trout, creating a fish called a Splake. The fish however is sterile. Fisheries often stock splake in bodies of water that are specifically designed for sport, providing an abundance of opportunity for anglers.
Another thing that you should know is that size isn’t everything when it comes to a trout’s brain. Even though they have very small brains, they are very much adept at being able to outwit an angler.
Some species of trout also have double the chromosomes as humans. Trout can have up to 42, whereas humans only have 23.
Lake trout are very sensitive to environmental changes, meaning that the best time to fish for them is the calm before the storm hits.
Lake trout are also known for developing their skills when they are around a month old.
Lastly, trout can live for a very, very long time. They do not meet sexual maturity until they are 7 years old. It’s common to see a trout live for more than 25 years, and some have been recorded as living for over 60 years.
Top Lake Trout Fishing Lures & Tips
There are a lot of time-tested tools that you can use to try and target lake trout. Some of them are very effective as well. A lightweight rod with a 6lb monofilament line will usually suffice if you are fishing for lake trout. Some anglers much prefer to use live bait when they are fishing. This is very effective when it comes to targeting lake trout. Small minnows tend to be the main go-to option as well. In their normal habitat, lake trout will usually feed on bait fish. It’s not a surprise to see that minnows are a worthy option when it comes to bait. Like any other fish, nightcrawlers and even worms can be fine choices. If you would much rather fish with a lure then you should know that there are a huge amount of options available. Some of them happen to include spinners, jigs with a large tail and even jerk baits too. These can all help you to fish for really big lake trout. If you want some more options then spinnerbaits, spoons and even flies are decent options.
If you are using spoons the try and drag them at a slow speed. Their slow and steady wobble makes the trout opt for a ferocious strike, and this is exactly what you want. The great thing about spoons is that they give you a great deal of versatility when it comes to targeting the depth as well. This gives you the chance to slip your lure into the target zone, with very small changes in the overall speed. A lot of lake trout reside in darker waters. For this reason, you’ll want to opt for a brighter jerk bait if possible. Blue, orange, chartreuse, silver and pink are all very good options. Jerk baits work very well when the target trout are around 10 feet underwater. If you want to try and attract trout from much further afield then using a lure and creating deep ripples will really help you.
Can you Eat Lake Trout?
Lake trout is very similar in terms of taste, to other species of trout. The meat tends to be firm, but it is also very oily. The taste is also rich with a medium fish flavor. Lake trout can have a red-colored flesh but it can also be white. This depends on the fish’s diet. If you want to cook lake trout, then you should know that it is best when served smoked or grilled. The flavor of the fish is usually determined by the food that it eats. The lake trout’s ecology has changed quite drastically over the years. Although the changes are subtle, they certainly impact the flavor of the fish. So, it’s been decided that trout has a medium-strong flavor, but it’s not as refined as a whitefish and it’s not really similar to salmon either. It’s stronger, certainly stronger than pike. Some say that lake trout is also one of the greasiest fish that they have eaten. As the ecological changes have taken place, the flavor profile has changed quite a lot as well. When alewives happen to invade a lake, the trout will then feed upon them. The problem is that they are very low in thiamine.
Thiamine really does matter because if lake trout isn’t able to get any thiamine then this could harm the health of the fish. The lack of thiamine causes the trout to lose its taste. The lack of this essential nutrient can also cause the fish’s flesh to become pale. This promotes that potent, fishy taste that causes a lot of people to stay away from this fish.
If you can make sure that you are getting your trout from a very healthy lake with a good ecosystem then you can be sure to get a way better flavor from any fish that you catch. You can also rest assured knowing that you are going to get a way better result from the cooking process too. If you want to make sure that your fish tastes the best that it can, then finding a healthy fish is crucial. When you have made your catch, try and make sure that you are grilling the fish and that you are cooking it with lemon and herbs. This will bring out the best flavor of the fish while also helping to make the dish, very tasty.
So, trout is a great fish to be catching if you are a keen fisherman. If you have never caught a lake trout before then you should know that it is very easy to do if you fish during the right conditions. If you have made your catch, then cooking the fish as soon as possible is key if you want to get the maximum flavor. If you can do this, you’ll soon find that your whole experience is completely transformed, and that nothing quite compares to grilling a fish, right off the line.