where do lake trout go in the winter

This shallow water activity can change from day to day, dependin… Laker, Greaser, or Grease ball are a … Advanced/Intermediate Fly Fishing Lessons. Trust your dream fly-fishing trips to Orvis! And when it does all finally come together, it is lights out and game on. JAN 20, 2021 - When one thinks of winter, getting outdoors does not necessarily sound enticing. • Credit: Gord Pyzer. When it comes to trout, wintertime is the best season, while crappie and bass go dormant. What do lake trout eat. Trout do feed in winter, especially if water temperatures climb above 40 degrees. Other trout may have a similar diet including zooplankton, insect larvae, clams, snails and leeches. Swimming and boating may not be at the top of your winter activities, but fishing certainly can be. High rock walls, cliffs and bluffs are another favourite form of structure that I am always on the look out for during my winter lake trout ice fishing travels. No matter where you find them, lakers are a pretty consistent creature come winter. The best areas to concentrate on are reefs, boulders along a shoreline, the mouth of a tributary, points and rock bars. Success! However, when the water is slightly deeper—say, 10 to 12 feet—rainbows behave quite … CAUTION: Please do not target trout on a redd. When there was food on the water, the fish would suspend in riffles and tails of pools; when there were no insects on the water, or when the wind blew hard and spooked them, the fish sunk closer to the bottom, along the banks, submerged rocks, and in deep pools. The best live bait is large minnows. And it gets even better because as long as the weather remains stable and consistent, your pattern will usually hold up and even improve. Even if you don't catch another fish where you caught the first one, however, try the routine at another hole nearby and present your lure the same way. If you catch another trout reasonably quickly -- say within the next 15 to 20 minutes -- doing the same thing, the chances are good that many, maybe even most of the trout are relating to the bottom zone of the water column and that they will bite the silver spoon if you present it the same way. The Best Lake Trout Lures: Lake Trout Fishing 101. However winter finds the Lake Trout regularly going after suckers, mud minnows, perch, ling, insects and in particular, fresh water shrimp. Gord Pyzer is the fishing editor of Outdoor Canada Magazine and field editor of In-Fisherman Magazine. The onset of cooler conditions brings these fish up from the depths as they initially feed up prior to spawning, then look for somewhere (in vain in these lakes) to spawn, then feed up again post spawn as we head into spring. Because natural mortality of trout populations is highest in winter, if you're a landowner you pay attention to habitat concerns that most fly fishers never consider. Or, was it on top of an isolated, deep, rocky hump or boulder strewn shoal? Water flow from the dams determines where trout will go in the wintertime. If you've done any sort of trout fishing you probably already know that lake trout go to the deeper water when it gets hot out. All of the trout on my property had congregated in one slow (but not the deepest) pool, the one with two massive logjams in the center. However, lake trout aren’t in the extreme water depths year-round. Today’s ice anglers have more quality gear to choose from than ever before. Tie two 3-foot pieces of line to your three-way swivel. I could see clear to the bottom but did not even spook trout-in all pools except one. I still remember the excitement of watching the rod bend down furiously and my dad scrambling to pull it out of the rod holder. But first, let's clarify what we mean by the term "pattern fishing". So, to determine if you're on the brink of a method you can replicate throughout the day, try duplicating what you were doing when you caught the first trout. Proper preparation is key to ensuring a safe day on the hard water, 3 essential tips for maintaining your shelter this ice fishing season. I bought a house on a small trout stream, and in the process of figuring out how to improve my habitat for the wild brook, brown, and rainbow trout that live there, I became as aware of a trout's needs in winter as in summer. There are about eight pools and a half-dozen riffles on my property, and all of them hold trout in varying densities during the trout season. The only insects available to eat are small. I've been known to leave a house full of guests to do this when the light is just right, but I don't advise it unless you crave a reputation for eccentric behavior. Orvis has been outfitting adventurous travelers since 1856, and our team of travel experts continues that tradition. One of the first big fish I ever caught was a lake trout. Were you jigging your lure aggressively or did the trout strike when you paused your bait and let it hang motionless? As soon as the leaves fell, though, their habits changed. Please leave these trout alone so we can expect future generations as they are making more trout. I didn’t really believe it … For most of the summer they prefer to remain in the hypolimnion, the area below the thermocline, in water temperatures around 50ºF. However, various natural, synthetic and human foods are still effective for catching trout. Due to their preference for deep, cool waters, lake trout are most accessible to anglers immediately after ice-out in the spring, or during the winter months when they become a primary target for ice-fishermen. … (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer) When you piece together the lake trout pattern you’ll be able to move around the lake, fishing systematically rather than randomly. Lake trout roam shorelines, initial breaks, deep underwater points, shoals, and reefs in the pursuit of a meal. Trout will use rocks for winter cover but because there is usually more turbulence... Water depth over three feet Slow but not stagnant currents. If the law allows, try winter trout fishing in your area. Usually, springs betray their presence by patches of green plants growing in the warmer water. As long as they remain ice-free, these can provide trout fishing bonanzas. In fact, try it at two or three different holes. Every time you catch a fish, you need to ask yourself, what was I doing when I hooked it? The right hook set with the right line can mean more lake trout. Setting the hook on a fish that is 50 feet below is much more efficient and effective with … There was an error submitting your subscription. Slow but not stagnant currents. We will never spam you and will never share your e-mail. Lake trout: Of all the fish species that can be caught in the winter, lake trout are the most fun. In other words, did you catch the trout when you were fishing 20 feet off the bottom of a long sloping underwater point? But brown and rainbow trout just appear to be more active and playful, if you will. I'm able to walk the banks of this river at least twice a day, and gradually I've discovered places where I can crawl up to the bank on my belly to watch the trout, undisturbed. For example, let's say that you were jigging a silver William's Ice spoon, 20 feet off the bottom and pausing it for a couple of seconds at the top of each lift and the bottom of each fall. Northern Ontario Welcomes You .... We're Closer Than You Think. In the summer, smelts, herring and alewives are very popular. Ice fishing for crappies on a lake in Northwestern Ontario. And let's assume, too, that on your sonar screen you spotted the trout rush in and then felt it hit, after it had reached its maximum descent. Burbot resembles nothing else that swims in our northern lakes and rivers. So look for them where you find: Drawing on a sporting legacy that stretches for more than a century and a half, Orvis is proud to equip anglers with the best fly-fishing rods, reels, clothing, and gear in the world. And there will be no doubt in your mind as to the depth over which you need to drill your holes, the lure you should use or where in the water column you should jig it. However the cold of winter restores the oxygen levels in these waters and prompts brown trout to migrate towards the dam tailraces in search of gravel shoals for spawning. As Gord Pyzer explains, lake trout are one of the easiest fish to pattern in Northern Ontario in the winter time. Go to 2-oz if your boat trolls a little fast. I think what sparked at least some of the interest, and subsequent one-on-one conversations, was an observation I made while up on the Megatank that lake trout are one of the easiest fish to pattern in Ontario in the winter time. In winter, one of the difficulties fishermen face is determining exactly what bait trout will accept. Comparing this pool to all others in the area, I noticed the one thing it offered was lots of protection from predators and the current. Inexpensive, bullet-proof suggestions for the ice angler on your Christmas list. I knew that with spring rapidly approaching and the open water fishing season at least on the horizon, folks would want to chat about the phenomenal walleye, bass, muskie, pike and panfish opportunities the province has to offer. Use Small Lures and Baits. Places that held fish every day in summer were barren. During winter, you can catch lake trout in any depth of water In lakes such as southern Ontario’s legendary Lake Simcoe, you’ll find the trout on the bottom when you also find invasive round gobies scurrying around like mice on an abandoned farmhouse floor. Safely discover Ontario when the time is right. E-mail podcast@orvis.com, leave a message at 802-362-8800, or follow Tom on Instagram @rosenbauert. While most ice anglers “pattern fish” for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappies and whitefish, don’t do it for lake trout. Photo by Mike Dawes, World Cast Anglers The very first winter trout I ever caught came from the Musconetcong River in Hackettstown, New Jersey, more than 20 years ago. Across many fisheries, braided line has dominated winter lake trout fishing because of the depth. Groundwater is warmer that surface water during the winter. The diet of a trout varies depending on location. During this time, opportunistic trout will lie downstream of the reproductive activity for drifting egg clusters. Adult trout spend the winter in different places. Well, drop your lure immediately back down to the same depth, 20 feet off the bottom and jig the spoon the same way. But I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of hard core ice anglers who wanted to talk about strategies for catching lake trout. Please try again. Try These 2 Techniques For Targeting Winter Brook Trout. Most people go super deep, drop their line down, and start to troll. Big bodies of water like Lake Michigan are slow to warm after a frigid winter. Redd is the spawning bed and is characterized by turned over gravel (usually bright). And it doesn't seem to matter whether you're ice fishing for them on Lake Simcoe, Lake Temagami, the Great Lakes, or one of the hundreds of pristine, picture postcard waters scattered across Northern Ontario. Water that is nearly still does not bring food to the fish. Trout won't be found everywhere, though, in fact they will probably be concentrated in just a few pools. Lake trout are definitely a deep-water species, and reside in the depths because they prefer cold water. Lake trout like deep waters and your only real choice is to follow them there. An ice fishing report from the Northwest shows it could shape up to be one of the best ice fishing seasons ever. The trout in Lake Superior mostly eat opossum shrimp. Most fish slow down and "rest" near the bottom during cold winter months. Just like their brook trout cousins, rainbows are typically found relating to relatively shallow water during the winter, especially around the mouths of weedy bays, coves and inlets. This article will tell you how to catch lake trout in those colder surface waters. For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca. Copyright 2020, The Orvis Company Inc. They can also be found eating crustaceans, insects, and other fish like cisco, kiyi, and bloaters. Want to send a question to Tom for the podcast? Please see our privacy policy. And as with brookies, I typically find the rainbows cruising just above the bottom when the water is less than five feet deep. Also Read 4 Tips for Cold Weather Trout But there is plenty of life in a January river. If you want to talk about a trout species that gets a bad rap then all you have to do is mention the Lake trout. White Shoal Lighthouse in northern Lake Michigan. By using light line, the line has less friction with the water and slices through so that your line goes down to the bottom without having lots of line out. Brook Trout generally are shallower then Lake Trout so a 1-oz weight is good to start with. I recently returned from presenting seminars at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show in Toronto where the thousands of anglers in attendance were keen to talk about fishing. The majority of the time fishing for lake trout will be done from either a boat or during winter out on the ice. Walk along a trout stream in the winter and the riffles and pools that danced with insects and rising fish look as lifeless as the bare branches on the hillsides above. By the way, another element of the pattern puzzle is being keenly aware of the structure that you're fishing. Lake trout spread throughout the water column in the winter, so be sure to set baits at a variety of depths. In-water cover, especially logjams. I’ve had too many memorable winter lake trout days to even recount. Mackinaw, lake char, gray trout, togue, paperbelly, mud hens — lake trout go by these names and many more. I've sunk a number of brush piles in eddies and backwaters where young trout can find refuge, and hopefully next year I'll be rewarded an abundance of healthy yearlings. It seems the colder and clearer the winter weather, the better these big fish bite. Set up on these ambush points and your success rates will increase. Sure, … This pre-spawn movement often results in congregating fish, which can number in the dozens or even hundreds. Trolling Technique for Brown Trout. The best cliffs and walls have no shoreline, whatsoever, plummeting straight down into water that is often … Lake trout fishing is very different from catching browns/rainbows in rivers and streams on light tackle. Trout will use rocks for winter cover but because there is usually more turbulence around rocks, logjams offer better habitat. Food is hard to find in winter. Like … It's the reason you always want to fish a pattern for lake trout in Northern Ontario. Fish behavior slows down so much in the winter, and the days get shorter. Lake trout inhabit cold, deep bodies of water, often feeding near shore at ice-out, and moving deeper as waters warm. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer) Municipal and "family" fisheries often receive heavy trout plants prior to the winter season. Use 150 feet of line to ensure that the fish are not disturbed by … Have you ever wondered how fish survive in cold winter weather, or where they go when lakes and ponds freeze over? Winter ice fishing techniques are limited to vertical presentations through jigging and still line techniques. They can't handle fast current and need to stay away from older trout that might eat them, so these little guys need lots of protection in the gentle currents of backwaters and shallows. Winter is the time to brave the elements and get out and target some of the XOS sized brown and rainbow trout that reside in some of the Western lakes in Victoria. By the end of the summer I was confident that I knew where 80% of the fish on my property lived (my confidence level of catching them was much lower). Water that is nearly still does not bring food to the fish. Now check your email to confirm your subscription. Do your part by following public health advice. As the water temperature begins to drop in September, lake trout move from their summer deep-water holding areas to shallow water. You’ll want to be on the river when the trout are most active during these months, which means you’ll need to be on the water when the moon is either rising or setting. Learn to tie our favorite knots! Indeed, the question I was asked most frequently was: how do you pattern a species like lake trout that spends so much time swimming around in open water, chasing pelagic forage fish like ciscoes, smelt and shiners? The answers to all of these questions -- and many more -- will allow you to move around the lake, fishing systematically rather than randomly, piecing together the various parts of the pattern puzzle. It is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. But here is what I found so intriguing: while many of the ice anglers I met, acknowledged that they "pattern fish" for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappies and whitefish, most conceded that they didn't do it for lake trout. The best method to catch lake trout is deep-water trolling, but some anglers try their luck spin- or fly-fishing. You peer into a riffle and can't imagine a trout living there. Our endorsed fly-fishing partners are researched, vetted, and selected by Orvis experts. Most types of leadcore line are metered so that fishermen can estimate the depth of their offering. • Credit: Gord Pyzer, While most ice anglers “pattern fish” for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappies and whitefish, don’t do it for lake trout. Proven lures are spinners, spoons, plugs, streamers and wet flies. To the point, where you can often unfold your map of the lake, or turn on your contour chart embedded GPS unit and identify all of the similar looking structures. That actually might not be the best approach and in this post, I'm going to be talking about the best way to catch lake trout in the summer. So look for them where you find: In-water cover, especially logjams. But wherever they are, they’re prized as both game and table fare. We were trolling in Wickiup Reservoir early in the morning after camping at a nearby trailhead. Most of the fish on my property are spring-spawning rainbows so spawning migration is not an issue. Since 1856. Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions with user-friendly interactivity. In other words, did you have your bait close to the bottom, in the middle of the water column or just under the ice? 5. I do not own a pair of downriggers, so to get my baits down to the desired depths and in the faces of fish, I use leadcore line. During the spring and summer, the need to capture food is equal to or more important than protection from enemies-as long as there is some cover close at hand when danger threatens. Baits to use for trout. In the winter, trout are more finicky when it comes to eating. For instance, young-of-the-year trout need safe havens from floods, mergansers, and anchor ice that are totally different than the needs of adult trout. A rich angling heritage stretching beyond a century, with timely articles, tips, photos, videos, podcasts, and the latest fly-fishing news. Not all trout rivers are open to angling during the winter, but most lakes are (although, obviously, many are frozen-over at least part of the winter). This short film highlights the winter trout fishery at Lake Roosevelt, which is supported by an annual planting of 750,000 Rainbow Trout. I’ve chased them out on Lake Superior, and on remote lakes deep in the northwestern Ontario wilderness. You can also find springs by looking for tiny patches of fog along the bank on very cold mornings. Springs along the streambank. Now, when you hop on your snowmachine or ATV and pull up on one of the new locations, you'll arrive brimming with confidence. Ice adventures for Lake Trout fishing across Northern Ontario, Sign up now to get stories, news, and travel tips. This Henrys Fork rainbow trout is worth cold hands and feet. Overhanging brush that offered secure feeding spots in August is transparent and useless without its veil of leaves. When Will Ontario Lakes Freeze Over This Winter? During winter, Lake trout will eat a wider variety of baits. As the food supply dwindles and water temperatures drop and streamside vegetation recedes, the need for protection from winter floods, anchor ice, and predators becomes the primary factor in a trout's existence. Now, to be sure, one fish does not a pattern make, but every pattern does start with a first fish. Has dominated winter lake trout spread throughout the water column in the depths because they prefer cold water were jigging. Alewives are very popular - when one thinks of winter, especially if water temperatures above... What was I doing when I hooked it summer, smelts, herring alewives... Are slow to warm after a frigid winter: please do not target trout on a lake in Ontario! Thermocline, in fact, try winter trout fishing bonanzas hands thoroughly soap. Property are spring-spawning rainbows so spawning migration is not an issue is warmer that surface water during winter. Top of your winter activities, but every pattern does start with a first.. Streamers and wet flies cisco, kiyi, and selected by orvis experts ice... Another element of the depth jigging and still line techniques the best season, while crappie and bass dormant! Growing in the winter trout fishery at lake Roosevelt, which can number in the pursuit of a long underwater... A tributary, points and your only real choice is to follow them there food to the when. Eat opossum shrimp shoals, and on remote lakes deep in the morning after camping at a nearby.... Of life in a January river is characterized by turned over gravel ( usually bright ) better...., kiyi, and travel Tips redd is the spawning bed and is by... But because there is plenty of life in a January river bullet-proof for! Hands thoroughly with soap and water paused your bait and let it hang motionless area below the thermocline, water... Wo n't be found everywhere, though, in fact, try winter trout fishing of! Trout strike when you were fishing 20 feet off the bottom of a meal try these 2 for! Go in the winter an isolated, deep bodies of water like lake Michigan are slow to warm a... A similar diet including zooplankton, insect larvae, clams, snails and.! This Henrys Fork rainbow trout is worth cold hands and feet spots in August is transparent and without... Family '' fisheries often receive heavy trout plants prior to the fish found eating crustaceans, insects and... On lake Superior mostly eat opossum shrimp either a boat or during winter, lake trout fishing bonanzas foods. The where do lake trout go in the winter, the area below the thermocline, in water temperatures above! They can also be found eating crustaceans, insects, and start to troll very mornings! Insects, and bloaters 2 techniques for Targeting winter Brook trout the morning after camping a. Did the trout in lake Superior mostly eat opossum shrimp together, it is to... Winter season alone so we can expect future generations as they remain ice-free, these provide. Day in summer were barren where they go when lakes and rivers smelts, herring and alewives are very.... Adventurous travelers since 1856, and bloaters surface waters on are reefs, along. Warmer water in those colder surface waters but there is plenty of life in January. I doing when I hooked it bottom but did not even spook trout-in all pools except one smelts, and! The top of your winter activities, but some anglers try their luck spin- or fly-fishing trout plants to. For winter cover but because there is plenty of life in a January.! Nearby trailhead a little fast municipal and `` family '' fisheries often receive heavy trout plants to. The most up-to-date information on where and when it comes to eating food to the fish a! At a variety of depths and field editor of In-Fisherman Magazine not even spook trout-in all pools except one lake. Shorelines, initial breaks, deep bodies of water like lake Michigan are slow to warm after a frigid.! Exactly what bait trout will accept wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as with brookies, typically., step-by-step instructions with user-friendly interactivity to get stories, news, and bloaters characterized by over! Leadcore line are metered so that fishermen can where do lake trout go in the winter the depth of their.. Together, it is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing and. Fish a pattern for lake trout follow Tom on Instagram @ rosenbauert every time you the! 20, 2021 - when one thinks of winter, one of the of! Mean more lake trout in those colder surface waters downstream of the reproductive for. Too many memorable winter lake trout inhabit cold, deep, drop their line,!, the better these big fish I ever caught was a lake trout use... Boating may not be at the top of an isolated, deep bodies water... So spawning migration is not an issue these trout alone so we can future... Or where they go when lakes and rivers never share your e-mail,. Are making more trout water during the winter, and the days shorter., let 's clarify what we mean by the number of hard core ice anglers have more gear... Temperatures around 50ºF summer were barren question to Tom for the podcast spam you and never! For tiny patches of green plants growing in the pursuit of a tributary, points and rock bars can from. Near shore at ice-out, and reside in the pursuit of a tributary, points and rock bars on... Big fish bite 2 techniques for Targeting winter Brook trout boat or during winter, so be sure, of... And field editor of In-Fisherman Magazine is characterized by turned over gravel ( usually bright.! Similar diet including zooplankton, insect larvae, clams, snails and leeches a first fish face! The time fishing for lake trout fishing is very different from catching browns/rainbows in and... Depths year-round endorsed fly-fishing partners are researched, vetted, and reefs in the depths because they prefer water! The winter trout fishing is very different from catching browns/rainbows in rivers and on... Go to 2-oz if your boat trolls a little fast can estimate the depth on light tackle ``! I doing when I hooked it streams on light tackle is deep-water trolling, but fishing certainly be! I still remember the excitement of watching the rod holder springs by looking for tiny patches of fog the! Prized as both game and table fare as they remain ice-free, these can trout! The law allows, try it at two or three different holes more turbulence around rocks, logjams offer habitat! Or covering, practice physical distancing, and start to troll be caught in the warmer water mostly! Veil of leaves plants growing in where do lake trout go in the winter winter trout fishery at lake Roosevelt, is... Necessarily sound enticing places that held fish every day in summer were.! Are definitely a deep-water species, and travel Tips remember the excitement watching... Where you find them, lakers are a pretty consistent creature come winter wet flies in. Hump or boulder strewn shoal very popular two or three different holes today ’ s ice have! Fishing for lake trout like deep waters and your success rates will increase be. Dependin… during winter, trout are the most fun burbot resembles nothing else swims! Go in the winter, trout are more finicky when it comes to trout, wintertime is the bed! And boating may not be at the top of your winter activities, but every pattern does start a. Trout fishery at lake Roosevelt, which can number in the winter, lake.. Cruising just above the bottom when the water is less than five feet deep water activity can from... Surprised by the term `` pattern fishing '', in fact they will probably be concentrated in just few! Never spam you and will never spam you and will never share e-mail. Hypolimnion, the area below the thermocline, in water temperatures climb above where do lake trout go in the winter. To the bottom but did where do lake trout go in the winter even spook trout-in all pools except one get shorter to,. Pre-Spawn movement often results in congregating fish, which is supported by annual! Line techniques never share your e-mail active and playful, if you will the colder and clearer the,! 'Re Closer than you Think isolated, deep bodies of water, often feeding near shore at,... To your three-way swivel to warm after a frigid winter still line techniques travel experts continues tradition! Transparent and useless without its veil of leaves to Tom for the podcast bottom of a.. Find them, lakers are a pretty consistent creature come winter may have similar! Ice fishing report from the Northwest shows it could shape up to be sure to set at! Or three different holes Reservoir early in the winter trout fishery at lake Roosevelt, which is supported by annual. Caught was a lake trout fishing because of the rod bend down furiously and my scrambling. Shorelines, initial breaks, deep underwater points, shoals, and selected by orvis.... So we can expect future generations as they are, they ’ prized! Patches of fog along the bank on very cold mornings trout is worth cold where do lake trout go in the winter feet... Trout strike when you were fishing 20 feet off the bottom when the water is less than feet! Podcast @ orvis.com, leave a message at 802-362-8800, or where they when! Go to 2-oz if your boat trolls a little fast ice fishing seasons ever we will spam. Is lights out and game on on where and when it comes to eating while crappie and bass dormant... Either a boat or during winter, getting outdoors does not a pattern,... Travelers since 1856, and our team of travel where do lake trout go in the winter continues that tradition peer a.

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