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Master Ontario Lake Trout

It's hard to know whether Briana Brodeen is smiling because of the glorious Northern Ontario scenery, the gorgeous winter weather or the beauty Sunset Country lake trout that she landed. We bet it's all three! • Credit: Gord Pyzer
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Master Ontario Lake Trout

The author shares the one lure you need to master this fish when ice fishing

Oh, my, what a wonderful winter we've been enjoying in Northern Ontario. Especially, compared with last year's polar vortex, bone-chilling temperatures and deep snow.

As a matter of fact, I spent yesterday ice fishing for lake trout on my favourite Sunset Country wilderness water and the only time I pulled the jacket over my wool sweater was when I hopped onto my snowmachine to scoot across the lake. The rest of the time I ice fished without even tugging a toque over my head or wearing gloves.

The lake trout seem to be enjoying the glorious Northern Ontario winter weather as well.

I caught several trout by swimming a white, soft plastic, tube jig through the transparent water, the same lure that Minnesota-based friends, Josh and Briana Brodeen presented to the trout in the Sioux Narrows / Nestor Falls area of Sunset Country on the weekend.

Haliburton Highlands lake trout Michael McNaught has his hands full of Haliburton Highlands lake trout, catching this beauty on a chartreuse pearl-coloured Tinsel Tube. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Buddy Michael McNaught, on the other hand, had his hands full of lake trout at the other end of the province where he was ice fishing in the Haliburton Highlands.

Guess I don't need to tell you what lure Mike was using.

Seems like no matter where you ice fish for lake trout -- from Lake Simcoe to Lake Temagami, Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods -- and all of the wonderful water in between, a white tube jig is the "gold standard".

Lures and Baits

I was switching between a four-inch pearl-coloured Trigger X tube and one of the pearl flash-hued plastics made by Angler's Choice. They're both infused with fish attractants that I firmly believe add to their appeal, but I like the super thick walls of the latter model when the lake trout are biting aggressively.

When finding them to be more cautious and tentative, however, I opt for the streamlined, thinner-walled Trigger X variety.

Mike, down in the Haliburton's, on the other hand, was hopping, skipping and jumping a super salty, four-inch, chartreuse pearl coloured Tinsel Tube made by Bass Magnet. You have to see these things in the water to believe them, as they flash like a school of minnows dancing under a disco ball.

And speaking about flashing, flickering and exploding I'll let you in on a little tube jig presentation secret. Most ice anglers stuff a grungy, nondescript, unpainted, lead jighead inside their bait, but I much prefer using a painted minnow-shaped head outside the soft plastic as an additional attractant.

The Fluffy Shiner jig head made by CL Fishin was designed to mimic the emerald shiners swimming in Lake St. Clair, but you better tell that to the lake trout swimming in Northern Ontario. They crush tubes tipped with this thing.

Ditto, the new Swim Jig heads made by Brendan Knaggs at The Perfect Jig. I shouldn't be telling you this, it's Brendan and my little secret, but if you ask him nicely he'll coat the jigs with phosphorescent paint for you. I am not going to say anything more!

Well, that is not true, either. The fact of the matter is I've never understood why so many hard water lake trout anglers insert their lead heads inside the tubes instead of using a head as a complementary attractant.

Northern Ontario lake trout The author’s grandson, 12-year old Liam Whetter, used a white Trigger X Tube on an exposed Swim Head made by The Perfect Jig Company, to fool this beautiful Northern Ontario lake trout. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Many times I've had lake trout suddenly appear on my Humminbird screen and tear after the lure that I've been jigging. When it happens you're left with a split-second decision, either to pull the bait away from the fish to make it look as though it is a panicking minnow about to be eaten, or stop it dead in its tracks to mimic a frozen-in-fear baitfish.

Both approaches work well, but I've discovered that the frozen-in-fear, playing possum pose is deadly when you're using an exposed minnow head jig.

As a matter of fact, it is the way I enticed probably 80-percent of the trout I caught yesterday. As soon as I spotted an interested fish on the sonar screen, I'd stop jigging my tube and let it hang in the water column. A couple of trout shot over immediately and devoured it, no questions asked. But the rest sidled up alongside it, giving it the careful "once over".

When I saw them lock on to the bait, I'd ever so gently rock it up and down -- like a bad case of coffee shakes -- so that the tentacles barely quivered.

The rest as they say is "history".

The kind of history you can make for yourself this winter when you go fishing for lake trout in Northern Ontario.

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