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A Secret Way to Catch the Heavyweights of Winter

As soon as your buddy lands a lake trout, quickly drop a bait back down the hole and likely, another trout will pounce on it
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A Secret Way to Catch the Heavyweights of Winter

Ice Fishing Bungalow Getaway

Experience an epic weekend on the lake while enjoying the comforts of home in our large four- to six-man ice bungalow. This is essentially the same as fishing within your own cottage, right on the ice! Come with the guys or pack up the family and make it an adventure. It doesn't get better than this! Includes heated ice hut, drilled holes and shuttle service, satellite TV, and as needed, propane heat.
From $200

Lake Trout reigns supreme for Ice Anglers across Ontario.

There is no question that ice fishing for lake trout reigns supreme in the wintertime across all of Northern Ontario.  And for plenty of good reasons, too, not the least of which is the fact that you will find more lake trout lakes in the Trillium Province than anywhere else on Earth.

So, no matter where in Northern Ontario you like to fish, you will find an icy honey hole waiting for you to drop in a line. 

Equally important is the fact that lake trout are cold-water-loving fish with a chilly optimal water temperature preference of 8°C to 11°C (48° - 52° F). So unlike almost every fish that either slows down appreciably or goes to sleep in the winter, lake trout shove the pedal to the metal.

This embarrassing wealth of opportunities, however, creates an ironic dilemma for most ice anglers. The lake trout fishing is so good, they miss a unique opportunity that's swimming, literally, beneath their boots.

Let me explain, so long as you promise not to share this with anyone else.

Let's assume you and I are ice fishing for lake trout on Lake Simcoe, Georgian Bay, Lake Temagami, Goulais Bay near Sault Ste. Marie, Nipigon Bay, or Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, or any one of the hundreds of lake trout lakes around Wawa, White River, Ignace, Atikokan,  Fort Frances, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, or Kenora.

Let's assume, also, that you suddenly spot a lake trout racing across your sonar screen chasing after your white Bass Magnet tube jig, Williams Nipigon spoon, Kamooki Smartfish, or 3/8th-ounce ReelBait Flasher Jig tipped with a minnow. You slowly lift and reel the lure away from the trout to imitate a fleeing ciscoe, smelt, or whitefish and then feel the fish whack the daylight out your lure. Your drag starts screaming, the tip of your rod bends over dangerously close to the breaking point, and the smile that creases your face stretches from one ear to the other.

It's game on!

Lake trout love cold water, so they’re typically the most active fish you will find in the winter time in Northern Ontario

Now, while all this is unfolding, what am I doing? 

Typically, your buddy runs up to the hole, pulls out the transducer so you don't wrap your line around it, cleans away any slush, and starts snapping photos.

Hey, this is fun, right?

And then there is the moment of truth. You spot air bubbles popping in your hole, a sure sign the lake trout is expelling gas from its air bladder to equalize the pressure, and then the water starts bulging up and down, splashing around the edges of your hole. 

Soon after, you see the swivel or knot connecting the fluorocarbon leader to the main line, and then the head of the humongous trout is visible in the hole, swinging back and forth as you lean over, gently slide your hand under its gill flap, and hoist it up and onto the ice.

It's time for a few quick photos before you get the trout back into the water and safely release it. There are high-fives all around, some good-natured kidding, and maybe even a celebratory cup of coffee while everyone stands around and replays the highlights.

I bet that sums up how most of our lake trout catches ensue – right?

And here is what almost every ice angler misses.

Just like smallmouth bass, lake trout are pack animals. They don't travel in large schools like walleye, black crappies, yellow perch, or whitefish; rather, they fan out and hunt like wolves in small groups of four, five, maybe half a dozen or more fish.

And when you hook a trout, it typically regurgitates and spits out the food in its stomach so that it can fight better. We see this happen with bass all the time, because we tend to catch them in relatively shallow water. But lake trout exhibit the very same behaviour, albeit usually out of sight because they're down much deeper in the water column.

Even more intriguing is the fact that that once the trout you've hooked regurgitates the food in its stomach, the other fish following it, swoop in and gobble it up it, "turning on the school" and creating a frenzy.

As Gord Pyzer, shown here with a beautiful Sunset Country lake trout, explains, the fish travel in small packs of four, five or six fish.

Understand what I'm saying? 

If there is a second hole nearby, it usually pays huge dividends to run over to it and drop down a second lure. One of the following lake trout will typically spot it, charge over, and thump it so hard it will almost rip the rod out of your hand.

And get this: the laggards are nearly always the biggest fish in the school. The alpha leaders of the pack feasting on the easy meal.

I should mention, too, that if there is not another hole near by, don't despair. Simply drop your bait down the hole the instant your friend lands the fish. Likely another trout will be positioned right below the hole, scratching its head and wondering where its buddy just went, and it will pounce on your bait as soon as it clears the bottom.

Makes sense? 

But remember...  mum's the word!

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