A few secrets for catching lake trout

Now a couple weeks into the 2010 lake trout season, most hard-core anglers have put in a shift or two on the ice chasing these winter beauties.
Arguably the most fun of all fish to chase during the ice season in Sunset Country, “lakers” often are aggressive and hard fighting.
Lake trout trips are fun, too, because they usually include an outing to get on the best waters. Snowmobile trips deep into the woods, across lakes and portages, add to the experience.
Let’s have a look at some tricks and tips that will help you catch more lake trout this winter.
Dave Bennett told me about this trick last week and said it has been working great for him the past couple weeks.
Many of the best trout waters have special regulations that do not allow the use of live bait or fish parts for bait—waters like Dryberry Lake and Whitefish Bay on Lake of the Woods, to name a few.
As such, Bennett loves to use spoons like a three-quarter oz. Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon. And what he’s been doing is melting down some Gulp or Trigger-X—some of the popular water-based, highly-scented products that have become hugely popular among anglers in recent years.
He melts this stuff to a liquid and then dips his hook in it. A couple of coatings leaves you with a highly-scented element to your spoon that does not need to be tipped with bait and will have some great natural action.
If you have some bags of Gulp or Trigger-X left over from the summer, try this trick (it will work). It will work for walleyes, crappies, and perch, as well.
The reason I say to look for leftover bags from the summer is the lifespan of these baits generally is not very long. Baits in packages that have been opened will become stiff and unattractive over the winter, so they are not really worth saving anyway.
Meanwhile, the rod and line combination you choose can affect your catch rates, as well.
For instance, longer-than-normal rods and braided line will help you ice more fish (32”-36” ice rods matched with braided line like Power Pro are great because this combination will improve your hooksets dramatically in deep water).
The braided line has no stretch in it, so that alone makes for much better feel and hooksets in deep water (traditional monofilament stretches like 30 percent on average).
If you have never used braid, try it—it will blow your mind how much better you feel strikes and improve your hooking percentage.
The longer rod adds an advantage because it creates a bit of shock absorption with the no-stretch line. This is important when you are fighting fish because it will help to prevent hooks from pulling out of the fish’s mouth.
If you use a short, stiff rod, you’re likely to pull hooks out, especially when trout fight extra hard close to the hole like the typically do.
Finally, don’t be afraid to move around and find the fish. Many trout anglers camp out on traditional spots and just wait for the fish to come to you.
On most outings, I’ll use my Strikemaster auger to drill upwards of 100 holes per day. The more water you cover, the more likely you are to run into fish.
I’ll usually spend five-10 minutes jigging a hole. I watch my bait on the Humminbird flasher the entire time and look for trout on my screen that may be interested in my bait.
Over the course of covering water for a couple of hours, take note of where most of the action is occurring: how deep are most of the fish, are you seeing more fish close to a drop-off or on a flat, and are they biting or following your lure?
Use this information to your advantage and put a little pattern together. If fish are following and not biting, try changing colours or try a whole new lure.
It looks like we have some awesome January weather coming in the next week, so get out there on the ice and take advantage of it!
I spent all of last week outside when it was really cold, so I can tell you I’m sure looking forward to it.

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