Lake Trout on the Fly

Lake Trout on the Fly

Fly Fishing for Lake Trout

-By Cory Craig

Lake trout are not really a member of the trout family at all, they are actually char, however they will still readily take a fly. From small nymphs and dries to streamers, lakers will take them all. Lake trout are a good, hard fighting fish, making them worth pursuing.

Spring at Scott Lake brings lakers into the shallows. The lakers will cruise the shorelines and reefs in search Lake Trout Fly Fishingof bait fish and leeches. If you’re patient enough you can see them on the shallow sand flats looking for stickle backs (a small inch-long baitfish) making it possible to sight fish for them. The river outlet and inlets of Scott Lake also produce numbers of fish. If you would like a more traditional fly fishing experience and you don’t mind a short walk, you can fish the Scott River. Fishing the pockets and deeper holes, you can challenge yourself by trying to land a laker in moving water. In early to mid-June, on a few calm evenings there is a midge hatch (a small aquatic insect the size of a pinhead). They rise to the surface by the billions, creating huge slicks of insects. A few lucky anglers will get to witness rising fish like they have never seen. At a glance you will see fifty to a hundred fish finning and swirling. Casting a small streamer will bring a strike every cast. Using small nymphs, down to a size 18, can make it more interesting. For the ultimate thrill you can wake a dry fly through the slicks and watch as the lakers charge and in-hale your fly. Once hooked these fish will retreat down in to 20-30 feet of water, and the fight begins.

As the water warms in mid-July the trout head for the depths, but you can still find them fairly shallow when they’re chasing schooled up baitfish in channels and bay mouths. The best way to find these fish is to watch for diving birds. The lake trout push the baitfish to the surface and the arctic tern dive in a push it back down.

By the end of July the lakers have moved to the deep holes, anywhere from 40 ́ to over 100 ́. Most would think at this depth they are out of reach for the fly fisherman, but with a little adaptation you can still present a fly to these fish. Using a 30 ́ lead core shooting head, you can cast and let the line sink for about 30 seconds. This will get your fly down to where the fish are and then you start your vertical strip up. Pulling lakers out of these depths with a fly rod is an experience and although it may not appeal to the purist, it is definitely worth a try.

September brings the lakers back into the shallows as they prepare for the spawn. They will start to don their bright spawning colors and start to congregate on the shallow shorelines and reefs. You will once again find them at the river and during pre-spawn these locations produce some phenomenal action. Once the spawn kicks in the reefs load up with lakers. It will change from day to day as to which reefs are holding the most fish, but with a little searching you will find areas with more fish than you could possibly dream of. While fighting a fish you will see numerous others following and chasing. This is the time of year when you lose count of fish caught, take breaks to rest those aching arms, and possibly end the day early because you just couldn’t bring in another fish.

Fly Fishing Tackle for Lake Trout

The average size Scott Lake laker is between 3 to 5 pounds so a 6 to 7-weight rod will do the job. Lake Trout on the FlyHowever, 10 to 20+ pound lakers are not at all uncommon so a 9-weight rod will give you the backbone you need to battle those bigger fish.

For spring and fall a floating, intermediate or sink tip line will work well. Whichever you can cast better will work best. Lakers tend to like a faster strip so the longer your cast the longer your fly will be in the water. For the mid summer deep lakers you’ll need a heavy full sink line or a high grain shooting head. Thirty feet of lead core line attached to a running line works best.

Probably the best all-round fly for lake trout is the Clouser minnow. All colors will work but white seems to work best or a combination of white and red or white and yellow etc. Other good flies include Deceivers, whistlers and wooly buggers.

       Fly Fishing for Lakers

For more information on fishing for Lake trout at Scott Lake Lodge, please see:

Weathering the Weather: A Wild Week 5

Weathering the Weather: A Wild Week 5

Weathering the Weather

Anglers are well known for their patience. It’s a good thing because it was tested during our fifth group of the still young 2019 season. They had to wait out some of the worst mid-summer weather we have seen in the twenty-three years of the current ownership. In less than a month of operations we have seen it all—intense, burn your bare feet on the floor of the boat heat, the six-layers of clothing cold front, the calm lake surface that goes for miles and wind and waves right to the edge of fishability. This group got the six-layer option. It was damn cold, unprecedented for this time of year. Since, as we’ve often commented in these posts, pike love warm water and sunshine, the first four days of this five-day trip turned out to be quite challenging for pike fisherman. They were patient enough to wait four days before the sun finally made an appearance and gave our group a shot of vitamin D and a shot at some real good fishing.

 Despite the nasty wind and cold, our anglers kept heading out and, except for one day of ridiculously high winds, did quite well, catching a lot of fish and some very impressive fish. Fish like the monster pike of 47.5” that Nate Naprstek induced to grab his fly just 15 minutes from the lodge; the 47” pike that Andrew Troop landed; the 46 inchers taken by Josh Nardo, Brent Laing, Dave Morales 2nd, and Tom Wigglesworth, or the 45 brought to the boat by John Green. Considering the weather, there were some amazing results.

As often happens the big pike came in clusters: Josh Nardo and Brent Laing enjoyed seven-trophy days; John Green had a six-trophy day and Andrew Nardo had a five-trophy day. Frank and Susan Saraka had a wonderful mixed bag (pike, trout and grayling) of six trophies each, earning them the Trophy Triple hat. Andy Nardo left wearing one too. Gerry O’Brien got the whole enchilada, joining the 100+Club with trophy pike, trout and grayling that collectively measured over 100”. His total was a fat 102.

While the pike story this week was pretty good, the best story was the lake trout. That was the one benefit of the cold conditions—it kept the lake trout up shallow, right on the surface where anglers casting for pike could tie into some great fish. No weights. No heavy tackle. Just great fights with fish that typically are much deeper. With any tackle a lake trout of 38” or better is a tough customer. On pike gear they are downright nasty fighters as Susan Saraka and Andrew Nardo found out. Getting a 40” plus trout that way is a real angling achievement. Ask Chris Kasper or Gerry O’Brien who landed 41” lake trout or Frank Saraka who got a 41.5” beauty. How about a 12-year-old dealing with that much raw power. Colter Sloan knows how that felt. He got a fish of a lifetime, a 41.5” lake trout, on the coldest and wildest day of the week. Congrats to Colter, but the poor kid is now ruined for fishing anywhere else.

That was the four-day story. On that fifth day the sun did shine, and the trophies rolled in, 32 on that final day. Bruce Koslowski got five pike, topping out at 47”. Gerry O’Brien and Andrew Troop got a mess of big grayling and Will Waltrip pulled in four trophy pike and a 39.5” laker. It was a great way to end the trip. Rain or shine, wind or calm, the Scott Lake trip always ends too soon. That’s why almost everyone comes back the next year: it’s an addiction that brings only smiles.