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