For most of the winter, catching a lake trout (or several for that fact) has been very high on my want list. Ever since last winter and fighting with and pulling several great ones through the ice, I've been wanting to catch more.
The fight of a Laker will make anyone want to catch more as nothing I've caught fights like them, I'm sure many others would agree with that statement. Fishing for them on Deerfield has not panned out yet, though I won't give up on trying to catch them there.
The lake, being much higher in elevation than many of other lakes, will hopefully still have good ice for another month or so, so long as this current warm weather doesn't last too long.
Pactola Reservoir has really been the place to go this season for Lakers. Clam Pro Tackle's new Leech Flutter Spoon, has been the hottest lure in the Black Hills since December, after several people posted about its effectiveness in triggering the fish to bite.
Every other day, I've been seeing pictures or hearing stories of them being caught. I myself have tried for them several times this winter, using Leech Flutter spoons and shiners rigged up to rods on Arctic Warriors, but hadn't had any success, not that I hadn't seen any.
Several times, marks on my Vexilar FLX-28 screen would come screaming up to hit the spoon, but despite my best efforts, the marks would turn and swim away. Except for the occasional rainbow or brown trout, I would leave empty-handed most trips. Frustration, thy name is Laker fishing.
A few days ago, the streak was finally broken. I went out with three other friends and we set up eight Arctic Warriors along various depths using minnows or shiners and jigged spoons and jigs with either grub tails or tubes on them around the setups.
We all saw marks throughout the morning, but no takers and no flags being tripped. We moved to another location and set out every Warrior again and again we saw the marks, but no bites, at least we knew a few were around.
As our frustration peaked, one of them suddenly yelled, "Flag!" I turned around to see one of the flags up on an Arctic Warrior near me with the rod down and line running off it. I hustled over to the rod and set the hook and the fight was on!
I could tell it wasn't a monster, but I didn't care. It was just great to hear the drag running hard and fast as the fish fought against it coming up. Even though it wasn't a huge fish, it still took nearly five minutes to get it to the hole before one of the guys assisted in getting it onto the ice.
It was between 18"-20" long and all muscle. Lake trout are definitely a thing of beauty with their streamlined bodies. After a quick picture, I sent it back down the hole to be caught another day, feeling ecstatic about finally catching one this season and it turned out to be the only fish we caught all day before we left.
The weather was very warm and the shorelines were already starting to open up when we got off the ice. If this warm weather pattern persists, it may be the last time I'll get onto the main body of Pactola this winter which would be a shame.
The lake may start opening up anytime now that the warm weather will be around for another week. Safety will become paramount again across the Hills as other lakes will start losing inches too over the next week.
I only hope that the winter weather will return and lock things up hard again so that March will be spent on the ice and not prepping for open water already. Here's to looking forward to the return of cold weather again.