Gearing up for trout opener

Since I was a little kid, there always has been one day that I look forward to fishing more than any other in the winter and that is Jan. 1—and most ice anglers probably would say the same thing.
This is the annual opening day for lake trout season, which will remain open until Sept. 30 across Sunset Country.
The reason we like to fish for lake trout so much is that they are a cold-water fish that is more active during the winter than any other time of the year. Although fishing certainly can be good for other species during the winter months, lake trout often are in the mood to bite all season long.
They also are the toughest fighting fish we have in our part of the world, hands down. Hook into a 20-pound plus fish and you are going to be busy for a while, especially if you are using light tackle.
Oh, and lake trout are pretty good to eat.
For many years, a four-inch white tube jig has been a tough lure to beat for trout anglers. The reason for its success is in its seductive, spiraling fall and the white colour is easy for trout to see from a long distance in the clear waters they inhabit.
They always are on the lookout for an easy meal and a tube jig does a good job of grabbing their attention. The same can be said for other classics like bucktail jigs and jigging spoons.
Although I grew up always using meat (either a minnow or a piece of sucker meat on my trout lures), I seldom use it anymore. Many soft plastics today come preloaded with scent or salt and they catch fish just fine on most days.
Adding meat to your soft plastics usually alters the action of the baits in a negative manner. The exception to this is that I do like to add a minnow head to my jigging spoons on most days, just like I do for walleyes.
Northland Fishing Tackle has some new soft plastic minnow heads that are scented with their Impulse scent and they should work well.
Part of the attraction of lake trout is that they are a unique fish that is not available everywhere. Although they are found in many lakes in our area, we are at the southern edge of their range, with a few exceptions in U.S. waters.
For me, when I think about lake trout, I think about those remote back lakes with a Canadian Shield backdrop of rocks and pine trees. Although Lake of the Woods has a good population of “lakers” and some big ones, most of the best lakes are remote with little human activity.
Lakes that are accessible only by plane in the summer and snowmobile or long walks in the winter.
Some lakes certainly are better than others for a shot at big fish. Generally, these are the biggest lakes while many of the smaller waters kick out big numbers of fish.
Before you keep a large lake trout, keep in mind that these fish are slow-growing, only about a half-pound per year on many of our lakes, so try to release those bigger fish and keep the smaller ones to eat.
We are lucky to have them in as many lakes as we do in our part of the world.
All the best fishing in the New Year!

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