Lake Trout: Trolling vs. Jigging
Many anglers give lake trout a break in the summer with the excuse that they are “too deep”. Across Northwest Ontario we have some great lake trout waters and while it’s true that they can be found in deep water in the summer, the good news is that you know where to look for them. They still bite, you just have to get your bait in front of them.
No matter what species of fish you are targeting, if you are fishing new water then trolling is a great way to make contact with fish. With lake trout, trolling is a great way to find groups of fish in the summer because they do have a tendency to school up somewhat.
If you have access to down riggers, they make trolling in deep water super efficient. Cannon makes downriggers that can be mounted to any boat simply and easily to get your baits down in deep water. For years I have used three-way rigs to get my baits down. This is done by using a three-way swivel with your main line attached to one end, a heavy sinker with a short amount of line to one end and your lure with eight to ten feet of line attached to the third end. Usually I’ll use a jerkbait or a spoon as my bait.
The Jackall Squad Minnow 115 has been a good one for me because it makes a lot of noise and comes in some realistic colour patterns, with Matte Pearl White being my favourite colour. Using a one ounce bell sinker works great for covering the 60 to 100 foot zone in most cases. Braided line makes feeling bites and setting the hook much more efficient in the deeper water, 30 lb. Power Pro is my line of choice for trolling deep water.
If you know where lake trout can be found in the summer, jigging can be a deadly way to put a bunch of them in the boat. The electronics we have available today will show you when fish are underneath your boat, especially lake trout, which show up pretty good because of their size. I use the Humminbird Helix machines on my boat and they make seeing fish so easy. If I can find a few fish trolling, usually I’ll note the depth and where I hooked up, then get on top of some of those areas with jigs.
Sharp ledges, small humps and the tips of points are all likely spots.
The jig set up is pretty simple, I like a 3/8 minnow head jig like a Northland Slurp Jig, tipped with a minnow imitator like the Impulse Smelt Minnow. They come in four and five inch sizes and both work well. If there are good numbers of big fish then I would use the bigger bait, which I typically do when I fish on Lake of the Woods.
Jigging also works a lot better on those calm days that are really bright. I am not going to try to explain it but my best days jigging for summer lake trout are always calm and bright. It certainly makes it easier to sit on top of your bait and watch it on the sonar like you’re ice fishing so that helps for sure. Cover the whole water column when you’re jigging as well, fish can be 20 feet below the boat or right on the bottom.