Lake Trout

Lake Trout (or, "Lakers") are also known as mackinaw, lake char, and grey trout. The Lake Trout is sought after as both a game fish and as a fish caught for consumption. The average length Lake Trout is 20-36" 15-40lb fish are not uncommon. The largest caught on a rod and reel was 33 kg (72 lb), caught in Great Bear Lake in 1995 with a length of 150 cm (59 in). Many native Lake Trout populations had/have been severely damaged through the combined effects of hatchery stocking (planting) and over harvest. However, through conservation efforts and proper licensing and harvest regulations, populations have shown a healthy rebound in many major fisheries/fishing lakes.

Lake Trout caught at Hawk Lodge Lodge, Ontario
Beautiful Lake Trout caught at Hawk Lake Lodge

Where to Find Lake Trout

Lake Trout are mainly found in lakes in northern North America, though they are also found in South America, Asia, and Europe. Lake Trout evolved with the ebb and flow of glacial periods, living in the lakes formed from the waters that melted from the glaciers at the glacial boundary. Lakers loved these massive, cold, changing waters and thrived, following the glaciers south during every advance, north when it warmed, and some stayed behind in lakes formed during the glacial retreats (i.e. the Finger Lakes). The Lake Trout settled in these lakes with deeper, colder waters and that's where you'll find them today...the deeper and colder parts of the lake. Once you are on the water, the most important part of the finding the Lakers is to relax, sit back and watch the shorelines. When you see pine covered islands and steep rock walls, you are at the right spot for Lake Trout fishing.

Understanding Lake Trout Behavior

Lake Trout like structure. Lakers will suspend near structure as they pursue baitfish and this is most often structure found on or near the lake bottom. When fishing for Lakers, look for the same things you'd see fishing for Brook/Speckled Trout in streams but on a larger scale (underwater outcroppings, points, cutouts, flats, drop-offs). If the same structure holds baitfish, it'll hold Lake Trout as well. They prefer different kinds of structure depending of the time of year, so putting your time in is key when fishing for Lakers.

How to Catch Lake Trout

Lake Trout like small lures more than big ones. Use a light line (4lb-6lb test) as it has decreased friction with the water and ensures your line goes down quick without having lots of line out. Tie two (approximately) 3-foot pieces of line to a three-way swivel. Use a 1 or 2-oz. weight on one line and a smaller lure on the other (i.e. a silver spoon or a #0-#1 Mepps or similar spinner bait). These fish are often down 40-60+ feet and when hooked (especially the big ones), will make a short run and just thump and twist and turn. Bring them up slowly to ensure that they decompress and release them back into the water quickly if you're not keeping them for consumption. Be sure to check to local/provincial websites for the specific conservation guidelines and regulations.

Downrigging & Trolling for Lake Trout