With daytime temperatures expected to hit the 50’s over the weekend, it was time to seize the opportunity and spend some quality time on the ice while it remained safe.
Spring is a time that I covet most when it comes to ice fishing as one can expect warm temperatures and a hot bite regardless of the species being sought.
My brother in-law Cory informed me that he had never caught a lake trout, so the decision with respect to species was an easy one. My dad and a good friend also committed to the trip; the stage was set for a fun day on the ice.
Lake trout are a handful when hooked and the experience is something one to itself on ice gear. Lakers provide long runs and simply go ballistic when they get close to the surface; it’s something I wish every angler could experience at least once.
We made the hour trek North of Fort Frances, Ontario sipping coffee and chatting about what to expect only to be interrupted by a moose and few grouse along the way. You never know what lies around the next corner in Sunset Country.
The Fort Frances area has experienced some beautiful weather recently, which is responsible for about 4 inches of slush on the ice from the melt. We arrived to our fishing destination and found there to be approximately 18 inches of ice beneath the slush. The ice was beginning to soften up and it will deteriorate quickly with night time temperatures expected to remain above freezing.
My favorite bait for Lake Trout has quickly become a white Flureish Custom tube with red nose and a 3/8 oz tube jig. The white color replicates a dying bait fish and the red nose of the tube really drives Lake Trout nuts. I run 30 pound blue hi-vis braid to a ball bearing swivel. To the swivel, I tie a 3-4 foot 10 pound fluorocarbon leader and the tube to the fluorocarbon. The swivel eliminates line twist while the fluorocarbon provides double duty, preventing fish from seeing the line and offering abrasion resistance from the hole while fighting a fish. My rod of choice is a medium action 36 inch St. Croix Premier.
Lake Trout love to suspend within the water column, so I make sure to work the bait from the bottom to the surface all the while keeping my eyes glued to the Vexilar FLX-28 for a fish to show up. I jig quite aggressively and let the bait fall on slack line. Always watch the line on the fall as many bites will come at that time. If the line takes off or stops going down the hole when it should, set the hook and hang on.
We worked our baits in 55-80 feet of water and at 11:08 am, Cory said he had something. I looked over to see Cory’s rod doubled over and could hear the drag absolutely screaming. About 5 minutes later, a beautiful specimen of a Laker was topside and high fives were in order...mission accomplished.
How do I know it was 11:08? Well at that point we had yet to catch anything and someone commented on the time and mentioned that if it was going to happen, it should be soon...well, it did.
For the next 2 hours, several Lake Trout were caught and we all got to experience doing battle with a beauty. Fish were caught throughout the water column as expected, in fact I was dropping down to a trout I spotted on the Vexilar only to have a nice 5 pounder inhale my jig just below the ice...awesome.
The day was capped off with brats cooked on an open fire and plenty of laughs. This was the last time I’ll be standing on water this season and can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off my 2016/17 ice season...an April Fools I’ll remember for a long time.