When it comes to lake trout here in the region of Algoma, there is no doubt that they are one of the most popular game fish to target, especially when the lakes freeze over. There is just something special about being able to get off the beaten path and venture to places that are nearly only accessible by snowmachine.
But there are also many bodies of water that hold these fish that are just simple drive-to locations. Whether you are going North or East of Sault Ste. Marie, the possibilities of catching some of these beautiful fish are almost endless.
How to locate and catch these fish that inhabit some of these very deep inland lakes can be a little challenging at times. They can be caught from just a few feet under the ice to right on the bottom and everywhere in between. One thing I highly suggest is to get out as early as possible and take advantage of the best bite in the morning.
A general rule for me is that I never set up in water less than 40 feet. That isn't to say there isn't lake trout in shallower water but it's just where my confidence is. Water depth ranging from 50 to 85 feet is where I've had most of my success.
Another rule for me is to never leave home without my ice fishing sonar. It's something I cannot fish without. It lets you know if fish are there right away, what depth they are at, how they react to your presentation and how to make them bite once you know they are interested in your lure. Having a sonar significantly increases the number of fish I catch. I've marked fish halfway up or more in the water column while I've been jigging near the bottom and caught those fish only because I saw them on my sonar. Once you know that fish is there, one big tip about lake trout is to take that bait away from that fish, yes take it away from the fish! Make it act like a fleeing baitfish, always jigging and reeling up and it really turns the fish on and makes them bite.
My baits are no secret. They are classic and as simple as it gets. When it comes to lake trout, jigging a white tube is an absolute must and probably one of the oldest techniques used to catch lake trout. I like to add a VMC Quick Strike Trailer Hook to increase my hookups and decrease losing short striking fish. For the second line, a lot of experienced anglers like to use a still rod setup with just a weight and a minnow right beside them while jigging so if that fish isn't interested in your tube it will hopefully go for your minnow.
But for me, there is no better rush than seeing a tip-up flag waving in the air and running towards it while it's spinning not knowing what's on the other end and fighting it with your hands. My tip-up setup consists of almost any small lure for weight and flash like a Swedish Pimple. I then take off the treble hook that comes with it and add approximately 6 to 8 inches of a drop line and tie that treble hook or single hook back and tip it with a big shiner or dace minnow.
Hopefully, these tips can lead you to catch more lake trout this ice season and with this ice season comes safety:
- Always be sure to check ice conditions before venturing out to these deep lakes.
- Let someone know where you’re going.
- Always have a plan before you go.
- Stay close to shore.
- Plan the safest and shortest routes to your spots and have a safe and enjoyable ice season.