Lake Trout Fishing Tips & Strategies
Crystal Lake is one of the best drive-to lake trout lakes to be found anywhere. Many different techniques have been found to be effective for our lakers.
The spring trout fishing is best as soon as the ice goes out. This usually occurs around the first week in May. The mid-morning hours are about prime time for Lakers, and this is basically true for the entire season. Various methods work well for catching these shallow water fish in the spring of the year. They are very aggressive as the water temperatures are still very low and the trout can be caught as shallow as 5-10'! Rapala style minnow baits work very well casting to the shallows, as well as smaller-sized spoons, preferably in the gold and silver colors. It is not uncommon to see small schools of lake trout cruising the shallows in the crystal-clear water, and many times they may chase your lure towards the boat before striking. If the fish are following a lot, but not striking so much, try switching to a jig combination. A ¼ to 3/8 ounce jig tipped with minnows, cut bait, or plastic grubs, shads, or twisters can be deadly. Color of the head does not seem to matter as much as a white/smelt colored plastic trailer, or actual live bait does. Pink jig heads have always been very good producers for the lake trout on Crystal. Jigging for springtime Lakers is good out to about 40' of water. Another successful method for spring fishing is flat-line trolling a spoon or Rapala a long distance behind the boat in water 10-40'. With the long line back, the trout may spook a bit from the motor and boat coming through, but usually scurry back to where they were by the time the lure comes dragging along.
As June rolls around, usually around mid-June, the surface temps begin to rise and the trout stay out in deeper water most of the time. Some trout can still be found shallow in June, but most of them stay and feed in deeper water. Trolling deep diving crank baits on light gear can bring them up to strike, along with slow-trolling spoons. The 3-way swivel technique can be extremely effective anytime the trout move to deeper depths. Downriggers can be very useful also, but are not necessary to catch trout. A final technique that produces is vertical jigging with ball jigs and airplane jigs tipped with cut bait or minnows, and tube jigs with 1-1/12 ounce heads in them. Solid lead 1-2 ounce jigging spoons tipped with an enticer will catch numbers of lake trout also. The lake trout do tend to feed in spurts throughout the day. Usually when you get a trout, within a short time you will likely have landed another one or two also. Being on the water when the feeding windows open is the biggest key. The lake trout may be anywhere from 40' to 110' deep during the warm summer months. They are found even deeper at times, but are usually fairly inactive when they are real deep.
Once the water temperatures start dropping in the fall, usually mid-September, the trout tend to move up towards the shallows again feeding up for their fall spawn. The opportunity is limited at this time, however, as season for lake trout in our division closes at the end of September. There is a two week period when the lakers can be readily caught up shallow again in late September, and this can be just as exciting as in the spring time, if not more! Schools of trout can be spotted in late September up on the shallow rock bars and points gathering together and feeding prior to the spawn. Jigs, spoons, and crank baits, along with live and cut-bait all work well during this period.
6-8' light to medium action spinning combos with 6-10lb line
6-71/2' light to medium action bait casting combos with 8-12lb line
6-71/2' medium/heavy bait casting combos with 12-15lb line for deep water vertical jigging w/heavy jigs
Variety of smaller spoons primarily gold and silver colors - Little Cleos, Williams Warblers, Daredevils, etc.
Small to medium sized minnow baits for casting and trolling the shallows - Rapalas, Bombers, etc.
Jigs for deep and shallow water, preferably pink 1/8 to 11/2 ounce weights tipped
Plastics for tipping jigs such as 3-4" shad tales, 3-4" twister/grub tails all in whites/ shad colors
3 way swivels for rigging for deeper water trolling (20'+)