Fishing in the Boundary Waters and Quetico


Quetico and the Boundary Waters Fishing

Trolling for Lakers:
Midsummer lake trout fishing is basically trolling as described above, except that it is done in deeper water with lures that run deeper. If you can find a lure that dives to 25'-30' while trolled you may have a winner. The Rapala Deep Taildancer will dive that deep and very often these are all that you need to catch lake trout. If you are unable to catch trout at these depths and need to get deeper, extra weight or a diving device can be added to the line several feet in front of the lure. Diving devices like Dipsy Divers work and they have their following but if I want to fish deeper than a lure's normal running depth I prefer to use what's called an in-line trolling sinker. The 1-ounce weight can increase a lure's maximum running depth about 10 feet and the 2-ounce about 15'-17'. Place the trolling sinker about 3'-4' ahead of the lure. I like to use snaps to attach both the sinker and the lure so that I can make changes quickly without having to retie. Spoons or crank baits of various sizes, shapes and colors can be easily snapped onto this leader without having to retie. Don't be afraid to use BIG lures.

This whole affair can seem awkward out of the water but once deployed behind a moving canoe it performs quite well. Get the canoe moving forward fairly fast over deep water and then let out line slowly 3 feet at a time to prevent tangles. Pay attention to the angle of the line entering the water, that's your clue to how much line you have out - 60 degrees is about right. It may be wise to measure the amount of line that you let out. A simple measuring stick is the length of your fishing rod, which will likely be 5-6 feet. If you know how much line you have out you will be able to return to the same depth if you catch a fish. Another possibility is to mark the line with a bobber stop or other type of marker that can be reeled onto the spool.

Spoons do not require much speed to work and they will reach their maximum depth by trolling slowly. Crank baits, on the other hand, will dive deeper and often work better at faster speeds. In my experience, a solo paddler cannot paddle too fast when trolling a crank bait in deep water for trout.

Where are they? Lake trout prefer water temperatures in the mid fifties. Up until about late June, water temps around 55 can often be found in depths less than 20 feet. As July gets under way, depending on the local weather that year, lake trout will be roaming deeper and deeper to find their comfort range sometimes spending time as deep as 60 feet or more. Rarely though, have I had to fish much deeper than 40 feet to catch these fish. Lake trout will not hesitate to move shallower quickly to grab a passing meal.

Lake trout feed on pelagic species of fish like shad, ciscoes and smelt, which move in huge schools in deep cool lakes. These types of baitfish tend to roam widely all over the lake and the trout will follow them usually at a depth below them. It is perfectly acceptable and often productive, to simply troll back and forth across the middle of a deep lake until fish are located. You can also target deep rock walls or gravel. Pay attention when you catch that first fish because you will want to repeat what you where doing in the same area that you were doing it.

The overall size of the lake has less to do with whether it holds lake trout than its maximum depth. For the most part, the deeper the lake the more likely it is to have trout. In the BWCA/Q lake trout are commonly caught in lakes as small as 50 acres as long as they are over 60' deep. In fact, during the heat of summer when trout are at their deepest, it is much easier to locate fish on a smaller lake that has a smaller deep basin.

Entry > Discover Wilderness > Fishing > Trolling for Lakers

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