As we walked the shoreline of this tiny Northwestern Ontario lake, we had visions of the last trip here; although the last time we were on this lake we were standing atop two feet of ice, and had one of the most epic days of ice stocked trout fishing I’ve ever experienced.
We got to the edge of the picture perfect brook trout lake; gin clear water with fallen trees littering the shoreline, begging for a jig or spoon to be pitched at them. We slipped into our waders, and stepped into the lake, slowly walking along and casting from the shoreline. After covering nearly a third of the lake, and casting into idyllic trout habitat, we had zero action. Going in with such high hopes, I began to get slightly discouraged, and decided to mix things up, casting a decent sized Cleo into the depths, letting it settle before retrieving it. On about the first crank of the reel, it got smashed by a hungry brookie, and I soon landed the first fish of the day. Repeating this technique, casting into the middle of the lake, using a slow sweep/pause retrieve, we soon landed a number of beautifully coloured brook trout.
This trip was shortly after ice out, with snow still littering the shaded shoreline, and I was surprised to find the trout in the depths, initially expecting them to be tucked in close to shore. Several months later in early June I revisited this lake, and despite the success previously found in the depths, couldn’t resist casting to the timber littered shoreline. It took about three casts to hook the first brookie, which shot out from under a fallen tree, slamming my jigfly nearly at my feet. As we worked our way down the shoreline, there seemed to be a seriously aggressive trout under every piece of wood, making for some seriously exciting action, watching these coloured up trout chasing jigs in crystal clear water. With ice out trout hiding in the depths, and early summer fish hugging timber along shore, it just goes to show how unpredictable, yet exciting, stocked brook trout fishing can be.
Stocked trout can offer some great opportunities for anglers, with a variety of species in countless numbers of lakes; from roadside lakes accessible by car, to remote backcountry hike in or ATV access only lakes. It’s also an opportunity for anglers with minimal gear, offering those without a boat or multitude of gear to get out and enjoy a day on the water; come summer, all one needs is a rod, a few spoons or jigs, and they can wade the shoreline casting for trout in nothing but a pair of shorts.
Boats and canoes certainly open up more opportunities, and allow anglers to further explore lakes, trolling shorelines and covering more water. When trolling, a go to bait for me is a Hildebrandt spinner in front of a worm, which can be trolled along shorelines, or across deep portions of the lake, and are a great bait to cover water and find fish. Trolling smaller spoons or spinners tipped with a chunk of worm can also be a simple and effective tactic. When walking, paddling, or boating along a shoreline, I’ll slowly work my way along, casting spoons or jigflies into shore, working areas around fallen trees and structure. The beauty of most stocked lakes, at least in Northwestern Ontario is their size; many are small and can be covered in a short period of time by canoe or even on foot with a bit of effort.
Another option for access is using a float tube; they’re reasonably priced, portable, and a simple means of accessing a lake. They can be carried in with ease, and depending on the weather can be used with waders to keep you warm and dry, or you can brave the elements, and hop in in a pair of shorts. Only having to carry a tube and pair of fins can be worlds simpler than carting a canoe into a backcountry lake. Stocked trout can be finicky at times, but if you’re up for a bit of an adventure and like the idea of exploring, finding and fishing stocked lakes can be a great way to spend your summer.