Top-Water Tactics For Lake Trout
Top Water Tactics for Lake Trout
By now most fly fishers have heard how effective a fly rod is for lake trout. This is remarkable in itself when you consider that not too many years ago a fly rod was not considered practical for this species. Down riggers and deep running lures were the tools of the trade.
Thankfully, a few pioneers took fly fishing for lake trout mainstream. Grizzly Creek Lodges’ own Doug Skanse was at the forefront of this movement. Hundreds of hours out on the water convinced Doug that lake trout would take a fly as reliably as any other species. This is especially true early in the season right after ice out.
The typical method involves casting big streamers over shallow feeding areas. Make no mistake, this method is extremely exciting and very effective; but there is another way. Top-water tactics. Big trout are opportunistic predators. They just can’t seem to resist an easy meal. A top-water pattern skating overhead drives them crazy. Believe me a 20-pound trout breaking water after your fly is as good as fishing gets!
Lake Trout Patterns
I’m often asked about my favorite top-water patterns for lake trout. My answer is always the same; mice patterns. Others, like the famous Dahlberg diver, and plain old cork poppers work, but the mouse pattern is king with lake trout. Old style, deer hair patterns are still a favorite among the traditional crowd, but foam patterns work equally well.
Locating Lake Trout
Water temperature is the golden key to finding feeding trout. Lake trout are most active in water that is 52 F or colder. Stream inlets are always good places to start. Depending on the volume of water coming in, a cold creek can cool off a sizable area of warmer lake water. I have measured differences of as much as 10 degrees in areas where large creeks come in. Shallow shoals close to deep water are another good spot to look. Lake trout can often be found feeding on schools of ciscoes near the edge of these shoals.
There is nothing quite like the anticipation of waiting for a big fish to explode out of the water and inhale your fly. It is intense, and addictive. You quickly become aware of every bubble or splash around you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath or trying to set the hook anytime you hear a splash. You might even develop a ‘twitch’. I know I have!
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