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Lake Trout Jigging Lures and Baits


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Hello, everyone. I'm probably getting ahead of myself as this season will only be our second year trolling and first year using a six rod spread, but, I'm also looking in to other methods of catching my main target species (Lake Trout) in order to have some variety in styles of fishing over the course of a day. From what I've read outside of trolling, jigging spoons seem to be the best way to target Lakers in the Great Lakes. One of my concerns is that this method of fishing is popular in the colder lakes like Superior, Huron, and Michigan. Where I fish at on Lake Erie the water is much warmer and shallower overall. In the summer it's difficult to find surface temperatures below 70° even at the Canadian border and the deepest water you'll find on the US side is just a little over 160', which is about 20 miles from port and our usual summer steelhead spots are normally 8-15 miles from port in 50-100'. Overall the summer isn't seeming that productive for the jigging option, Spring and Fall however provide lower water temperatures and our target areas provide a bit deeper water (10-130').

 

So, to get to my point, do you all think that it would be possible to catch Lake Trout using jigging spoons on Lake Erie during the spring and fall (and possibly summer) with such (relative to the other Great Lakes) warm, shallow water? Or would I be better off to just stick to all trolling?

 

If it would be possible for me to catch them jigging,I have a few questions. 

1) Is there a certain setup that will work well for this application? My plan as of now is to use my White Bass and Drum rod being a 6'8" medium power, extra fast action (just looks like a regular fast or even moderate fast action to me) G. Loomis E6X Jig/Senko rod (rated for 1/4 - 3/4 ounce lures) with a Shimano Sedona 2500FD spinning reel spooled with green 20 pound power pro braid mainline and a ~24" leader of 12 pound fluoro going to the snap swivel. Looking at a lot of the jigs people use for Lakers that setup seems a bit light, so I could also use my 7'6" heavy power, fast action musky casting rod I use for big jerkbaits that's rated for 2-6 ounce lures and has 50 pound braid, but the rod seems a bit overkill.

2) Are there any specific lures that work very well? For now I have a couple of 3/4 ounce little cleos I could use but I've also been looking at moonshine spoons as well. 

3) Spoons vs tubes vs bucktails? Does one work better than the others in certain situations or water conditions, or is it just the preference of the individual fish?

4) Treble vs single hooks? I know trebles give you a better chance of hooking the fish and that's what I've been using on all of my trolling lures so far, but I've also heard that single hooks set and hold better in the mouth and obviously with one hook instead of three it will cause the fish much less pain.

5) Is there a certain water temperature, depth, and or position I'd want to have my lure in to catch the most fish? I'm guessing the answer to this is based on typical seasonal patterns of the fish, but just thought I'd ask to be safe.

6) Is there a good speed range to be drifting at for using jigging lures for these fish (I assume you're not anchored)? We tend to drift on an average of around 0.8-1.2 mph depending on wind and wave conditions if we're just letting the water push us.

 

Aside from jigging, I've never heard of anyone doing this much in the Great Lakes but, has/does anyone use live or dead bait for Lake Trout? Before we started trolling last year, all we did on Erie for the previous 12 years I've been going up and 65 years my family has casually fished it has been to drift fish bait for mixed bag fish. If we were to bait fish for lake trout we'd probably dead drift (again 0.8-1.2 mph on average) with two or three rods (depending on whether I'd want to jig as well) with our rigs on the bottom and either drag the baits directly on the bottom or use one of my rigs that suspends the bait a few inches off of it (when you only dead drift for miscellaneous fish for 12 years, you start making some pretty involved rigs after a while :) ). Also, if I was to fish with bait, is there anything that works better than other bait? I know that Rainbow Smelt are the main forage of Lale Trout in Erie but you can't find them in any local bait stores. Emerald shiners are a popular local live bait and they're the second most important forage for local Lakers, but they still only comprise ~20% of their diet and are a fairly small species, though I could hook several on a large enough hook.

 

Thanks for helping me out again, everyone, I appreciate you all sharing your knowledge!

-Sean

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Jigging will work any time  the fish are concentrated.  Trolling works better when the fish are scattered.

 

When the lake flipped at St. Joe one time and the steelhead came in I watched a guy land several casting a fly rod  off the how of a very large Sea Ray.

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Okay, locally Lake Trout are the most concentrated during the spawn in the Fall but they can at times stack up pretty well in the early Spring, I'll try jigging at those times. In the summer they're so scattered it's almost hard to catch them trolling, so I'll avoid jigging then.

 

I'd love to get in to some open water Salmonids on the fly this year, hopefully they'll be shallow enough to get with sink-tip line and heavy streamers in a few weeks.

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With trolling you will cover miles, and miles of water.  With jigging, you will cover feet/yards of water

They do well jigging over Standard Rock in lake S. ,but thats a spot where Lake Trout are concentrated.

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That's what I figured the reason for their success was, and why not many locals jig for them, although not many locals fish for them period since Erie is a world class Walleye fishery with coldwater fisheries only available year round in the eastern basin. I'll try jigging between trolling sessions in a week or two here when we launch the boat, hopefully I'll have some fish to report to you guys then!

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I don't know much about lakers on Erie, but I ice fish them every year on Superior and also open water fish them on Grand Traverse Bay.  First I'd go with your lighter "white bass/drum" set up, they are way more fun to catch on lighter gear.  2nd, for me spoons have far out produced bucktails and tube jibs, with this one in 1oz being my best (http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Freestyle-Jig/product/90542/). Electronics are your friend.  Even in the spring with cold water temps, I often find greatest concentrations of lakers in 160'+.  When we are ice fishing we do tip our jigs with a small chunk of smelt, never found it necessary in GTB though.

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