Wild Northerner Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 70

Spring into laker action

laker action

action

BY JAMES HODGINS

For Wild Northerner

It's the time of year when the ice is too thin to walk on, but still too thick to put the boat in, so you are stuck at home watching fishing videos on Youtube while anxiously awaiting the last ice to melt. You start daydreaming about previous ice-out lake trout adventures. Being in a boat again after months of standing on ice. Listening to the hum of the motor while you troll, the waves lapping up against your boat. That action of your favourite trout lure as it's in the water while you anxiously await that first strike. The air is still cool coming off the lake, but the sun on your face feels warm and familiar, so you take a deep breath inhaling that fresh outdoor air.

I will usually try to hit up a few smaller trout lakes in my area as the ice comes off a few days earlier than the larger lakes. The trout are not monstrous by any means, but on good days the action is non-stop and they usually range between the 1.5 and 2.5-pounds, which are a great size for the smoker.

I know people have their setups, so I will share the ones I have been using for the past few years with great success.

For the first hour on the lake, I'll use a gold Williams Wobblers spoon but I will remove the treble hook and tie on another five inches of line, where I will tip the treble with a minnow. I'll try trolling closer to shore in about six to 12-feet of water , but also cut out deeper at points. I have only started using this setup the past few years as I have seen my dad catch some nice lakers with this presentation. Last year, my dad brought in a nice eight-pound laker to the boat on our first outing. My dad will tell you I hit it on the head with the net as it never made it to the smoker (or the inside of the net).

Depending on the water temps, some lakers might not be high up in the water column, so to get a bit more deeper (15 to 25-feet) I'll take the same setup but put it behind a small dipsy diver.

I'll leave a 15-ft foot lead from the diver to the spoon and try this presentation for the next hour.

My second weapon in my arsenal is my No. 5 Blue Fox Spinner. I call this my species killer as not only do I pick up lakers at ice out, but pike and bass can't seem to resist it's serenading sparkly charm.

I will usually pick up one or two of each the first day out making it a "Hat Trick" day.

Another combo I came into in the last few years is my shakyblade knucklehead jig tipped with a Mr.Twister. You can jig, troll or cast to shore with this combo and again pick up multiple species. I have also had trout and whitefish hit this while jigging ice fishing.

If all else fails and I haven’t had much luck with these three techniques, I'll look into vertical jigging with a tubebait or a large artificial minnow off the points. Depending on the wind conditions, I'll either start shallow and drift out to deeper waters or the total opposite. I'll let the jig hit bottom a few times and then I'll

My second weapon in my arsenal is my No. 5 Blue Fox Spinner. I call this my species killer as not only do I pick up lakers at ice out, but pike and bass can't seem to resist it's serenading sparkly charm.

I will usually pick up one or two of each the first day out making it a "Hat Trick" day.

Another combo I came into in the last few years is my shakyblade knucklehead jig tipped with a Mr.Twister. You can jig, troll or cast to shore with this combo and again pick up multiple species. I have also had trout and whitefish hit this while jigging ice fishing.

If all else fails and I haven’t had much luck with these three techniques, I'll look into vertical jigging with a tubebait or a large artificial minnow off the points. Depending on the wind conditions, I'll either start shallow and drift out to deeper waters or the total opposite. I'll let the jig hit bottom a few times and then I'll radically pull it up to surface only to let it drop back down. This is doing a few things to my advantage. One, I am stirring up the bottom a bit, hopefully attracting some hungry fish. Two, I am covering the whole water column. Three, sometimes the reeling up action triggers a strike from picky, slow moving trout.

Another thing I look for (as my father pointed out to me years ago) are flocks of seagulls hovering over the water. If they are dive bombing the surface it's a good sign that there is baitfish at the surface. If you can get there fast enough and troll your bait through the area you have a good chance of hooking up a predatory laker that is lurking below the bait ball.