15 Lake Trout Tactics That Work for Catching Trophy Trouts Every Time

Once you decide to go for lake trout anywhere nearby, you need to learn the tried and tested tactics and tips to ensure your next fishing trip isn’t going to be a failure.

There are a lot of things to consider which can be a little overwhelming to some people, but once you get it right, it’s worth it. This is why I’m sharing my lake trout tactics with you in this post, so you can use them to your own advantage as well.

Here is the short version; What are the most important tactics to consider for trophy lake trout? The most important tactics to consider are choosing the right time, accurately detecting their hotspots, using the right gear that can put up with trout weight and fight, and picking the suitable type of lure that can be visible from a distance.

For the longer version with the actual tactics and the tips on how to employ them, just keep reading. If you think you are ready to go for trout, consider these great trout fishing rods that can help you greatly.

15 Tactics And Tips To Catch Trophy Lake Trout 

lake trout to show some of my lake trout tactics
  1. Target The Best Weather Conditions

The best time to target lake trout is in the spring months. Since the ice is melting and surface water temperatures are the coldest they will be all year, conditions are ideal for catching lake trout in shallow water with little effort and gear.

  1. Target Dusk Or Dawn

The best time to fish for trout in a lake is either at dusk or dawn. Targeting trout before 11 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. is effective for all types of trout all year. 

Not only can trout be more at ease wandering the open water during these hours, but they will also bite the most at feeding time when bugs are active. They can strike more effectively if the surface of the water is stable and there is a bright sky with high pressure. Other factors will make them slow down a bit.

  1. Choose The Right Gear

When going for trophy Lake Trout, medium-heavy 7ft rods with at least a 20-pound test line are a must, but a lighter choice, such as a light-medium action rod with a 6-to-10 pound test line, will make for an exciting afternoon when searching for some fast-paced action.

  1. Consider Trolling 

Longline trolling and casting techniques are the most common in the spring. Planer boards and lead core should be used to drive the bait away from the boat and to a lower, more controlled depth.

This is a wonderful time of year to cover a lot of water looking for new structures and experimenting with new baits and looking for schools of fish. Once you’ve found one, mark it down so further bites would probably happen in related locations.

Here’s a list of lures that work best for the 3-way rig to troll for lake trout in the summer:

  • Cotton Cordell C.C.  
  • Moose Spoon
  • William’s Wobbler
  • William’s Whitefish
  • Noc Flutter Laker Taker
  • Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner
  • Small Floating Rapalas
  • Nasty Boyz
  • Lucky Strike Canoe Wobblers
  • Panther Martins
  • Small Mepps Bucktails
  1. Target The Hot Spots

Trout can be seen actively feeding on emerging insects and schools of baitfish in shallow water. Spring is one of the best times of year to target lake trout. 

They can be found near points, beaches, and underwater reefs in spring. Due to the warmer water flow supplying a smorgasbord of insects and other food, which in turn attracts baitfish, river mouths may also be suitable during ice-out conditions, making them ideal places to target hungry predatory lakers.

When the temperature of the water rises, target broad, protruding underwater platforms, boulder-strewn reefs, sunken shoals, and isolated rock piles are examples of prime spots where you’ll find trophy lake trout hiding to seek shade.

If you’re fishing in a stream, you can find them seeking shelter in deep pools and water pockets near under-cut banks or under overhanging trees. You can use small lures into deep water like spinners, jigs, and crankbaits to imitate small fish that trout go after.

  1. Locate Dams

Dams are another summertime hotspot for trout, especially in lowland reservoirs where water temperatures are likely to increase. So if you’re fishing anywhere with a nearby dam, don’t miss it.

Dams draw trout for a variety of reasons. The three most significant ones are that they maintain deep water, provide shelter for baitfish and other food sources for trout, and provide access to colder water.

  1. Use Spoons 

Spoons make an enticing lure for Lake Trout when pulled at slower speeds, as their slow and steady wobble movement draws vicious attacks. Spoons also have great depth-targeting flexibility, enabling you to slide the lure straight into the target zone with only slight changes in speed.

The best spoon color for lake trout includes white, gold, brown, green, black, silver, pink, orange, yellow, red, blue, silver, and chartreuse. They are all great colors to ensure your lure is visible at depth.

  1. Cast Your Lures Properly

You should always cast at least 40 feet (about 12 meters) from every school of Lake Trout, causing the line to drag back into your vessel, depending on where you wish to cast from. Naturally, the jerk baits can drift with the currents, resulting in more natural-looking lures.

  1. Use Bright-colored Jerkbait

Since many monster trophy Lake Trout can be found in darker waters, you must use brighter colored jerk baits. Blue, green, brown, pink, and chartreuse are all excellent colors for making the lure clear at a distance. Jerkbaits perform well when the goal trout are suspended in 10 feet (about 3 meters) or more of water, and they are an excellent tool for dragging right on the bottom.

  1. Add Garlic, Anise Oil, Or Salt To Your Bait

Garlic is top-notch when it comes to using scented bait to attract trout. It’s available, cheap, easy to use, and easy to store. Using just a pinch of garlic to your bait can attract a trout from a mile away. It’ll not just attract trout, but it’ll also make trout hold on to you much longer than they usually do. 

Anise oil is irresistible to most fish let alone a fish with a strong sense of smell like trout. It’s most likely due to the smell being similar to scents found in their natural prey. It works as both attractant and mask, as it attracts trout to your lure while its strong scent will mask any strange scent that your bait has.

Salt is also a great lake trout attractant. It makes the soft plastic softer. Fish tend to hang on to bait longer if it contains salt. Using salt on baits like bucktails, feathered jigs, spoons, spinners, and streamers is effective in drawing trout from a mile away.

  1. Don’t Ignore The Shallows

Lake trout may like to stay in deeper water but it’s unwise to always assume that. It is recommended every once in a while to cast the lures in the 10-foot (3-meter) zone below the thermocline. For example, if the thermocline is 35 feet (10.6 meters) deep, spend the majority of your time jigging 35-to-45 feet (10.6-to-13.7 meters) below the boat.

The bent minnow is an excellent idea here. You can also try small poppers, cicadas, hoppers, and stick baits.

  1. Consider Night Fishing

Night fishing is extremely effective in fishing for big lake trout. The less pressure that night provides for the lake makes trout more comfortable roaming in the shallows. When the moon is full or almost full, many trout will feed during the night because it is cooler, there are fewer distractions, and there is still enough light to see prey.

  1. Target Them Right After Being Stocked

 After trout are stocked, they take time to adjust to the environment by sticking around the point where they dumped in for a few days. This also means that asking people about where exactly the stocking truck dumped them is a great help. 

  1. Go Fishing After Rain

Lake trout love oxygenated waters. Rain increases the water flow as well as the oxygen level in water which encourages lake trout to leave their shelters and roam free in the water to actively feed.

  1. Use Devices

Using a depth finder is also useful for mapping the schools of baitfish that are suspended. These schools of baitfish can be found in the middle of the lake, at depths ranging from 30-to-60 feet (about 9-to-18 meters). Lake trout wait directly underneath the school, waiting for weak or sick fish to venture outside so they can attack it.  You can check the best portable fish finders here.

Looking for even more about fishing Trout in general? Check out this great video below:

Feel like you’re ready to go fishing? Gear up with these picks for the best Trout Fishing Lines you can find for the money. These are the ones I use regularly with awesome results, so make sure to check them out.

Related Questions 

What Colors Do Lake Trout Like?

Lake trout like the colors that can imitate their forage. These colors may include white, gold, brown, green, black, orange, yellow, red, and blue. Other unnatural colors such as pink, silver, and chartreuse are also effective. They are all great colors to ensure your lure is visible at depth. 

Can you eat trout every day? 

No, you can’t eat trout every day. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating trout at least 2 times a week, as trout is high in omega-3 fatty acids which shouldn’t be consumed on daily basis. This also applies to fish like salmon, sardines, and albacore tuna.

Helpful Resources 

Stats of Lake Trout Fisheries in Ontario

Geographic distribution, species displacement, and niche overlap for lake trout and bull trout in mountain lakes