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The best tips and techniques for lake trout fishing: get ready for action

SAIL

June 8, 2023

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Charles Raymond with a Lake Trout

Have you decided to try your hand at lake trout fishing or to perfect your skills this fishing season? Charles Raymond, Quebec angler and videographer, shares his best tips and techniques for tackling this combative fish (which is not to be confused with the speckled trout). A wide range of techniques are available, from trolling to jigging or fly fishing – it’s just a matter of knowing how to use them. Charles has got you covered for this, plus he gives us his best advice on lake trout fishing equipment.   

With all that, you’re in for a great fishing season! 

In this article, you will discover Charles Raymond's best techniques and tips for lake trout fishing:

  1. Which waters and areas are best for lake trout fishing?
  2. The right date and time of day for lake trout fishing
  3. One bite, one catch: perfect your lake trout fishing technique
  4. Charles Raymond’s pro tips for lake trout fishing

Essential lake trout fishing techniques

Lake Trout Charles Raymond

According to Charles, two techniques are particularly effective for lake trout: jigging and trolling. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, the best approach depends on various factors such as equipment, context (depth, water temperature), and personal preference.
If you want to experiment with a fixed presentation, you could also try drop shotting, which involves tying a line to a hook and adding a sinker at the bottom.

Jigging for lake trout

Jigging is all about finesse, even gentleness, and it is ideal if you like “stationary” fishing. The best thing you can do when using this lake trout fishing technique is to take your time. Jigging, without a doubt, is one of the most exciting techniques, providing incredible rod-in-hand sensations. You’ll feel everything, from the moment you cast all the way to the catch, with a good sense of depth and structure.

In terms of gear, jigging requires a jig head and a soft bait. If you have a fishing sonar, it’s even better: you’ll know exactly where to cast your line. If you don’t, no worries; you just have to read the water and try to locate any visible structure. A little tip from Charles: cast about 50 to 60 feet from rocky structure.

Trolling for lake trout

Trolling requires a little more in the gear department, as you will need a motorized boat. The idea here is to move at a slow speed of around one or two kilometres per hour, making “S” shapes or straight back-and-forth motions. If possible, consider doing this near sandy bays; the warmth they give off is very appreciated by lake trout, especially in the spring.
Trolling doesn’t offer as much control over the lure’s action as jigging (which also means less “fishing sensation”), but it is still very effective for lake trout, as it allows you to cover a large area in very little time. Charles recommends relying on hard bait with good swimming action.

Fly fishing for lake trout: a good idea?

Lake trout are very active in cold water. When the water warms up in summer, they tend to take to the depths, only occasionally coming up to the surface to feed.
Fly fishing is possible in the spring when the water is still cold. According to Charles, you can get also results with streamers using the trolling technique.

Which waters and areas are best for lake trout fishing?

Lake trout are typically found in deep water, about 50 to 60 feet below the surface. They are often suspended in the water, meaning they are neither near the surface nor at the bottom. For this reason, the “ideal” fishing zone for lake trout is about halfway down the water column. However, Charles does point out that, in his experience, the largest specimens are usually at the bottom.
If you’re fishing from shore, look for breaks in the water. You should also aim for structure like rocky humps and boulders.
For lake trout (as for all fish species), Charles recommends moving around regularly. Switching between different fishing spots can increase your chances of success, especially if you haven’t had any luck in a particular area. If you’re exploring a new body of water, look for a spot with similar features to the ones where you usually have success (depth, underwater structure, etc.). Trolling really shines here, as it allows you to cover a large area of water.

Is a sonar essential for lake trout fishing?

A fishing sonar is always handy, but it’s not exactly essential, especially if the body of water you’re fishing is heavily populated with lake trout. However, in areas with high fishing pressure, you may get better results (and have more fun) if you use one.

The right date and time of day for lake trout fishing

Charles Raymond can confirm that, with a bit of experience, you can catch lake trout at any time of day, even in the blazing hot summer sun. That said, fish is always more active in the morning and evening.
As far as dates go, lake trout can be tackled all season long. Around May, when water is still cool, you don’t need to fish very deep: aim for 15 to 20 feet below the surface. Use hard baits and jigs, preferably.
When the water gets warmer (around July), you must adapt your fishing technique and go a little deeper. Remember that lake trout prefer cold water and tend to stay away from the surface in summer when temperatures rise.
Essentially, the warmer the water, the deeper in the water column you have to fish. Adapt your lake trout technique to the time of season you’re fishing and to the time of day. Staying “agile” is a great way to maximize your chances of catching fish!

One bite, one catch: perfect your lake trout fishing technique

Charles in action for the Grey Trout

Lake trout are pretty combative, and that is precisely what anglers love about fishing this species. Specimens can grow up to 6 lbs., sometimes even more, so you can definitely expect a nice battle!
If you have a bite, the best way to react, according to Charles, is to take it slow. The action begins as soon as you feel a nibble. Stay focused, and do not rush. If the fish pulls and takes line off your reel, let it. This will reduce the chances of it getting off the hook.
When you do reel in a catch, remember that lake trout are fragile and highly sensitive to heat. If you practice catch-and-release, make sure the fish stays in the net as much as possible. Remove the hook with a pair of pliers, and be quick to take a snap of your trophy, keeping to a minimum the amount of time the fish has to spend out of the water. When it’s time to release, slow things down again and handle the fish with great care.

Charles Raymond’s pro tips for lake trout fishing

Charles’s first tip is to remember that lake trout are a gregarious species. Chances are, if you reel one in, others are nearby, and you may end up with more than one catch.
As for the lures you’ll need in your tackle box, Charles has a particular penchant for slightly heavier spinners (1/2 oz.), especially in the summer. Bronze-coloured ones, for instance, are a great option. Hard baits are also effective for lake trout. Choose 4-inch lures in shades like white, pink, blue and purple. Or follow Charles’s advice and try a white 3 or 4 inches long Storm Largo Shad soft bait. Pairing this soft plastic with a jig head will make for a great jigging experience. Fishing with worms might also work, but as Charles puts it, this method is not the most effective.
When it comes to rods and reels, Charles recommends a spinning rod and a 2500 to 3000 reel. He also points out that some “all-purpose rods” exist and are equally suitable for trolling and jigging. Choose a 6.6 to 7 feet long rod with moderate fast action and medium power. If you prefer trolling specifically, go for a 7-foot rod with moderate action.
Lastly, opt for a 15- or 20-pound braided line, paired with a 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader that will stay perfectly invisible in the water. This type of leader is also abrasion-resistant, making it ideal for jigging.

From fishing techniques to lures and rods, to the proper way to read the water, Charles has provided all the information you need to take on the thrilling experience of lake trout fishing. Whether fishing from the shore or on the water, you will surely enjoy tackling this combative freshwater fish. Now all you have to do is gather your gear and start planning your next trip. Happy fishing!

FAQ

Where to fish for lake trout in Quebec?

What is the best bait for lake trout fishing?

What is the best time to fish for lake trout?

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