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Trout in the Land of Lakes

Shore Fishing for Kamloops Rainbow Trout

 

 

Trout in the Land of Lakes

By Garett Svir

Garett

June, in Minnesota, is a great time of year to be a fishing enthusiast. In the land of 10,000 lakes we are fortunate enough to have approximately 180 of these lakes managed for stream trout.

The stream trout lakes in Minnesota are stocked by the Department of Natural Resources with rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout and a hybrid of brook and lake trout called splake. The DNR stocks approximately 400,000 rainbow trout, 150,000 splake, 90,000 brook trout and 20,000 brown trout. While a majority of these lakes lie in the northern most part of the state in Lake and Cook counties, trout fishing opportunities lie as far south as Rochester. Not only do these fish raise havoc on light tackle they also make for great table fare.
Growing up in the Arrowhead Region a majority of our June consisted of fishing the remote trout lakes of northern Minnesota. Many of these lakes you would later lie to your mother about in fear she may name drop at the office water cooler. In the world of inland trout fishing a 17” fish is respected, an 18” fish is coveted, and fish over 20” most people are lying about.
The remote nature of many trout lakes makes fishing from shore or in a canoe great options. A productive method for shore bound anglers is to inflate night crawlers full of air with sliding ½ ounce Water Gremlin egg sinkers. Slip bobber fishing, casting small spoons, spinners and stick baits all produce results. It pays to be versatile and experiment with presentations. I’ll often bring several rods rigged for different fishing methods. Prolific bug hatches also make the fly rod a viable option on certain evenings. Pay attention to the size and color of bugs that are hatching and try to match the hatch.
Larger lakes will typically have boat ramps and allow for more conveniences to aid in your search. Early in the season fish will be located high in the water column and around shoreline structure. I typically start out trolling spoons or small stick baits. Make sure to let out plenty of line to get lures away from the noise of the motor. These fish have an aggressive nature so don’t be afraid to go fast, even reaching speeds of 2.5 mph. This is a search technique and will help you eliminate unproductive water. Another highly effective technique is to troll a small cowbell rig. Cowbells are a set of spinner blades attached onto a piece of cable. I run a 2’ leader off the cowbells to a #6 hook baited with a half night crawler. I like to pinch my night crawlers in half to leave a big scent trail in the water. The rig produces a lot of flash and vibration. It is meant to mimic a school of bait fish with the added scent of a crawler to seal the deal. These can be fished off a downrigger, or simply weighted down with a Water Gremlin Rubbercor sinker.
Keep an eye on the depth finder for suspended fish. Once I connect or locate fish on the electronics, I’ll often stop and finesse fish. For this I like to use night crawlers or dough baits like Pautzke’s Fire Bait, fished on slip bobbers. Pautzke’s Fire Bait caters to the instincts of fish that grew up on hatchery pellets consisting of similar ingredients.
As summer progresses the fish will move away from shoreline structure and suspend near the thermocline. This is the layer of water with the greatest temperature change. This layer contains food, adequate oxygen and the preferred temperature of these cold water fish. The thermocline will actually show up on your depth finder as a broken line with heavy shading below it. You will also notice a lot of fish located at this level. This is the time of year when a downrigger really shines. It allows you to fish fast and search out fish at a consistent depth just above this layer of water. Clamp on downriggers can be purchased for a minimal investment and can aid in searching out trout.
A complete list of stocked stream trout lakes is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Website at: www.dnr.state.mn.us. It has been said that trout fishing takes you to some of the most beautiful unspoiled places around. I assure you that the remote trout lakes of Northern Minnesota will not disappoint.
Garett Svir can be contacted at 1slabseeker.blogspot.com

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Shore Fishing for Kamloops Rainbow Trout

By Garett Svir
This time of year is always bitter sweet for me. It's that time of year when I realize that my winter fishing season is over. I'm going to let you in on a secret that will help you with your winter fishing withdrawals. It won't cost more than a few bucks in gas and a tub of wax worms. It's the incredible fishery that exists on the shorelines of Minnesota's Lake Superior. Early March is the time that Lake Superior Kamloops Rainbows begin to stage off river mouths in anticipation for their spring spawning migration. It's a time of year when these large Great Lakes fish are within casting distance from shore and can make for a memorable outing. The best part is a big boat or charter is not needed and this can all be done with equipment you currently own.
Many areas from Duluth to the Canadian border can produce fish but I prefer areas that are in close proximity to warm water discharges or river mouths. These areas with warmer water are going to offer food and attract fish. Steelhead and Kamloops always return to spawn in their birth stream and spend the spring seeking out these streams. This makes them susceptible to a wide variety of offerings from a savvy angler.
As for equipment I like to use long light action rods. The long rod allows for greater casting distance. It also allows you to fight large fish on light line by fighting them on the rod rather than the line. Simply keeping your rod tip up will absorb alot of the shock from the powerful runs these fish make. Just don't make the mistake of pointing your rod at the fish or all shock is taken by the line. A reel with a good ball bearing drag system will also help bring these fish to hand. For line I like an abrasion resistant 6 pd test. This keeps my line from getting nicked up on the many boulders that line Lake Superior’s shoreline, but is not visible in the clear water.
The two main techniques used are bobber fishing and plunking. A variety of weighted bobbers are available that allow you to get enough distance to get out past the shoreline rocks. A leader of 18-30" is then added. On the business end a special jig tied with rubber legs and a marabou tail known locally as a "looper bug" is the bait of choice. I've also used small bead head flies, night crawlers, wax worms and fresh spawn tied into mesh bags.
The second method is much like a walleye rig. It starts by adding a sliding sinker followed by a bead and then a high quality barrel swivel is tied onto the line. A leader of 16-25" of fluorocarbon is then tied on, followed by a #6 hook. This rig is tipped with a night crawler filled full of air from a worm blower or a mesh sack filled with spawn and a marshmallow. This rig is cast out and the slack line reeled up. The bait floats up off bottom and the line slides freely through the sinker on bottom. It is placed into a rod holder and watched closely for bites. Bites can range from violent strikes ripping line to something as simple as the line going slack. I have made a few sand spike rod holders by taping a chuck of PVC pipe onto a piece of re-rod. This can be driven into the sand and holds up to even the most violent strikes from passing Kamloops Rainbows.
The Kamloops Rainbows of Lake Superior are stocked by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These fish can be identified by a clipped adipose fin. Any fish that has an adipose fin is a wild steelhead and must be immediately released. If you do hook into a wild fish be sure to not over handle the fish. These fish should only be handled briefly for a photograph. Keep them in the water at all times. Always wet hands before handling to not rub the protective slime coat off the fish. If this slime coat is damaged the fish is susceptible to infection. The steelhead of Lake Superior were in danger during the 1990's. The fish are starting to rebound due to responsible angler handling and a strict catch and release policy adopted by the Minnesota DNR. Should you catch one please do your part to protect this great fish.
Fill the void left over from the ice fishing season with a trip to Lake Superior for Kamloops Rainbow Trout. These fish make drag burning runs often leaping a few feet out of the water once hooked. You will not be disappointed. Who knows you may become "hooked" yourself!
Garett Svir can be contacted at 1slabseeker.blogspot.com

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