Last chance for lake trout

Bass fishing takes up a good chunk of my time, especially later in the summer and into fall when we have tournaments going on just about every weekend.
I really enjoy competing in these tournaments as many readers who follow this column already know.
That being said, I am pretty happy simply catching fish most of the time and that is why you’ll find me fishing year round, both out of a boat and on the ice.
The lake trout season across Sunset Country closes every year at the end of September and opens back up again Jan. 1.
Lakers are a fall spawning fish so the closure protects them when they move up shallow in October to do their thing.
Like most fish, lake trout go into heavy feeding mode before the spawning process takes place.
There is a lot of energy that needs to be saved up and once their minds turn to spawning, eating becomes secondary. That means some good fishing for anglers right now as these fish are in the mood to bite.
It’s probably a combination of kids getting back to school, the end of summer coming in hot and open seasons for pretty well all of the fish we have in Northwestern Ontario but not that many anglers target trout in mid to late September before the end of the season.
It is a great time to get out on the water, especially if you get one of those really nice fall days.
Finding fish is the most important element to success. Most trout are going to be moving from the deep holes where they spent to the summer to shallower pieces of structure, close to the deep water.
I like to focus my efforts in the later part of September on the 40 to 60 foot range. You can certainly find lake trout shallower and deeper than that but that is a good range to spend your time in.
I like to look at points and humps, especially if they have a ledge or sharp break in this depth range.
My favourite spot is a hump that tops out at around 40 feet but quickly drops into over 100 feet off the side of it. When I first found this spot on a guide trip years ago I drove over it first to look with my electronics and it looked like a huge school of walleyes on top of the hump, there were a bunch of fish.
I had never seen lake trout grouped up like that before so I thought maybe it was something else, except that most of the fish marks were large, they looked like lake trout.
I turned the boat around after marking all the fish and then got on top of them with my trolling motor.
Once I started to see fish on my sonar again my friend and I dropped our baits down and before they were halfway to the bottom, there were fish racing up to intercept them.
Both of us were hooked up with double digit lake trout within seconds of dropping our jigs in the water.
Since then I have found a bunch of spots like this on a variety of waters around the region.
While you can catch lake trout with a number of techniques and different baits, I seldom use anything but a five inch soft plastic minnow bait rigged on a jighead anymore.
It’s just a good imitator for what these fish are eating this time of year.
My bait of choice is a Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ in the Shiner or Smelt colour and I like to use them on a 3/8 ounce jig head.
I’ll move to a ½ ounce jig if the fish are deeper but for the 40 to 50 foot range a 3/8 jig is perfect.
Finding the fish is the most important thing and then you can use whatever your favourite technique or bait is to catch them.
Trolling spoons or crankbaits through these fish will work, so with the trusty white tube bait or a big bucktail jig, they really are in the mood to eat.
I will be missing most the hot September lake trout bite this year because I am back on the road this week for my final two Bassmaster tournaments of the year in the U.S.
I’m in Oklahoma this week at Lake Tenkiller then we head up to Lake St. Clair on the Michigan/Ontario border next week for the final event.
Look for the reports on those tournaments in my upcoming columns.