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Drop Dead Gorgeous Lake Trout

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Drop Dead Gorgeous Lake Trout

We won’t say that drop shotting for lake trout in Northern Ontario is kid’s play but . . . • Credit: Gord Pyzer

How to drop shot Ontario lake trout



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With drop shotting becoming such an admired and accepted method of fishing, it was bound to happen. Some enterprising angler would haul the technique out of its bass and walleye realms and experiment with it for lake trout. Enter Matt Benson, a long time fishing guide for Boois Fly In Lodge and Outpost on Trout Lake, a scenic hop, skip and jump by float plane from Red Lake, Ontario.

For the uninitiated, drop shotting is when you take your hook, attach it to the line using a Palomar knot and keep a long 14- to 18-inch tag. After you've tied on your hook, however, you pass the tag end back through the eye and give it a tug so the knot is positioned inside and the hook kicks straight out. You finish fashioning the rig by placing a tungsten weight on the end of your line so that your hook is where your sinker is traditionally placed and vice versa.

And that is the benefit of fishing with a drop shot rig.

With the sinker at the end of your line, when you drop it over the side of the boat, let it fall to the bottom and tighten up on your line, you know that your hook and bait is positioned 12- to 18-inches above it, smack dab in front of the fish’s eyes. In addition, there is no weight to distract the fish's attention and no terminal tackle between you and your bait when it comes time to set the hook.

"I've gone even a step further in refining the drop shot system for lake trout," Benson says. "Instead of tying on a single 1/0 Gamakatsu drop shot hook, I put on two, spaced about two-and-a-half feet apart. This way, when I attach my bait, usually a pair of three-inch long scented soft plastic minnows, it looks like a small school of bait fish."

The attraction of drop shotting for lake trout across Northern Ontario is that you can use a smaller boat to access remote waters and you don’t require any elaborate or expensive equipment.  Your bass and walleye rods will work well.
The attraction of drop shotting for lake trout across Northern Ontario is that you can use a smaller boat to access remote waters and you don’t require any elaborate or expensive equipment. Your bass and walleye rods will work well. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Another key detail, according to Benson, is knowing which lake trout are susceptible to the technique when you mark them on your sonar screen.

"The closer you can find the trout relating to the bottom," says the Cabela's Canada Pro Staffer, "the more prone they are to hitting your drop shot rig. When you spot suspended trout cruising well off the bottom, you're further ahead to troll for them.  Or keep looking for bottom-oriented fish."

Indeed, the attraction of using a drop shot to catch lake trout anywhere across Northern Ontario, from Trout Lake in the Northwest to Lake Temagami in the Northeast is that you don't require any expensive or elaborate equipment like downriggers and wire line outfits to catch fish. You can use your favourite walleye and bass rods and reels.

"I had some guests from Ohio out last week," says Benson, "and we caught 22 lake trout drop shotting in two-and-a-half hours. And we didn't move more than a few hundred feet the entire time. It was so much fun. The fish were on the bottom in 80- to 110-feet of water, so I put either a 1.5- or 2-ounce sinker on everyone's lines. We were using 20-pound test braid with a 15-foot length of 15-pound test fluorocarbon line for a leader."

Of course, when you find the trout inhabiting shallower water in the spring, late summer and winter you will want to use a lighter (1/8- to 1/2-ounce) sinker, my favourite being the environmentally friendly Ultra Tungsten cylinder or ball shaped weights that are half the size of similar lead sinkers. Tungsten is also much harder and thus, more responsive, so you can feel when you're fishing over sand, clay and rocks.

Sometimes, Benson says that he shakes his soft plastic minnows to give them added action to attract the attention of any nearby lake trout. But most of the time he simply drops the rig to the bottom, tightens up on the line and then ever so slowly back-trolls by putting his tiller handle outboard into reverse and backing into the wind.

Flat calm conditions are ideal for drop shotting for lake trout, as Gord Pyzer shows here, but if it’s windy simply back troll into the breeze and hover over top of the fish
Flat calm conditions are ideal for drop shotting for lake trout, as Gord Pyzer shows here, but if it’s windy simply back troll into the breeze and hover over top of the fish. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

"I watch the angle of the line on my guests' rods," the Sunset Country trout stick says, "and try to keep it as straight up and down vertical as possible. Obviously, flat calm conditions are ideal, but if there is a breeze, I simply back the boat into the wind, kicking the motor into and out of gear so that I am hovering over the trout.

"Funny thing, too," says Benson, "drop shotting is such a subtle technique that you don't often feel a crushing or bone jarring strike when a big trout takes your bait. Instead, you simply sense that there is more weight on the end of your line. After you set the hook, though, it is a different story."

So, move over bass and walleye, and welcome to the brave new world of drop shotting for lake trout in Northern Ontario.

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