Chasing Lake Trout

A couple of weeks back I was supposed to be fishing in a bass tournament at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee, the second stop of the 2020 season on the Bassmaster Elite Series. The tournament was scheduled the week after our first event down in Florida but while I was driving up to Tennessee from Florida I got word that the tournament would be postponed until later in March due to heavy rains and flooding of the lake creating an unsafe environment.
My initial response when I heard the tournament was cancelled was that I was fine with the decision because the fishing probably would have been really tough in the cold, muddy, high water. After thinking about it a while later, I realized that I had several ice fishing guide trips booked at home during the week of the tournament that I would not be able to do. Then I realized that my plan to be home for three weeks in March was probably not going to work out at all with the tournament placed smack dab in the middle of it. It was disappointing because I love the mid-March ice fishing and I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends who were planning to visit Sunset Country to do some fishing. The consolation is that at least I’ll be fishing in a boat that week. No complaints there, although as I said, I am a fan of ice fishing, especially when the weather gets nicer, the days get longer and the fish are biting.
I was able to reschedule one of the trips I had planned this past week when two of my friends from Northland Fishing Tackle, Jack Kons and Sam Larsen, made the trip up to Kenora from Bemidji, Minnesota. Northland has been a sponsor of mine for many years and it has turned into an annual tradition for these guys to make a March ice fishing trip to Lake of the Woods to do some fishing and test some of the new baits that they are bringing out the following year. We’ve had a lot of fun over the years and have discovered the effectiveness of some good baits, including the Puppet Minnow, the Macho Minnow Spoon and the Rippin’ Shad, amongst several others.
One of the challenges for a fishing tackle company is that they must constantly release new baits to create consumer interest and keep up with the demand that anglers have for new tackle that fish have not seen before. There have been some baits that didn’t work out that well and never caught on with anglers. They simply go away, even if they catch fish.
It was a last minute “put together” trip last week and the guys came up before the warm weather showed back up so we were out there in some nasty wind and cold weather. They were conditions that I probably wouldn’t even have left the house in but since I had guests to entertain we went. Thankfully I have a good portable shelter that I was able to hide out in.
The new baits they brought were mostly designed for walleye so we had to put some time into catching some walleyes and getting a few photos with them. It was Jack’s first trip to Canada to ice fish, while Sam has been to the Kenora area several times and his main goal of the trip was to catch a lake trout. Jack said he talked about wanting to catch a lake trout the whole ride up from Bemidji so I figured we better try and get them on a lake trout. After catching a bunch of walleyes on the two new baits that they brought up, we got to spend a few hours on the last day of their trip chasing lake trout.
Usually in fishing when there is some pressure to catch fish, it often doesn’t work out. Seen it happen plenty of times trying to film TV shows, in tournament situations or when an angler I’m with has their heart set on catch on catching a musky or a lake trout. Fortunately, it was a good day to lake trout fish as we hooked up with eight fish and landed five in only a couple of hours. These were all nice fish in the five to twelve pound range and one of the ones we lost was a really big one that we couldn’t quite coax into the hole. It made for a fun day on the ice, some great memories and a couple of anglers who will be back in March next year.