Lake trout (salvelinus namaycush) are a variety of fish indigenous to freshwater lakes in North America. Also known as grey trout, togue, lake charr, mackinaw and paperbelly, lake trout are found primarily in Canada, Alaska and some parts of the northeastern USA.
One of the many reasons lake trout is so popular among anglers is because it is valued as both a food fish and a game fish. It is also a pretty big fish, so lake trout definitely stand apart as phenomenal trophy catches.
Physical Characteristics of Lake Trout
When it comes to charrs, lake trout are king. On average, lake trout range from 15 to 40 pounds and are 61 to 92 cms in length. This said, as far as fish go, lake trout are also late bloomers, being both late to mature and slow to grow. This is common for fish that live in deep waters with very low levels of nutrients, as lake trout do. Lake trout generally grow at a rate of 4 inches/year for the first 2 years and then 2 inches/year for the next six. After these first 8 years, they only grow about 3/4 inches every year.
Other physical characteristics of lake trout include a green, grey, brown, or almost black back with lighter sides, a white belly, and light, almost worm-like markings on this darker background. Lake trout also have a distinctive deeply forked tail and a white edge on their lower fins.
Habitat and Behaviour
For the most part, lake trout can be found in cold water with bountiful oxygen. For this reason, they favour deep rocky lakes and are often thought to be hard to catch. The truth is they just enjoy deeper waters than most Ontario fish. This said, lake trout are seldom found in depths greater than 55 feet when they are feeding; and if they do go any deeper, the low levels of oxygen cause their bodies to go into hibernation and they are not going to be biting anyway.
Like all fish, where you can find lake trout depends on when you are looking for them. In the early spring, right after the ice disappears, you will find lake trout close to the surface of the lake. Cooler water and spawning prey are enough to draw them up and out of the depths. Your best lures for spring lake trout angling includes spoons, plugs and spinners. We find the best time to fish for lake trout in the spring is just before dark, though they do feed at other times of day as well. When it comes to spring fishing for lake trout, timing can be erratic; your best bet is to feel out the fish in your lake.
Predictably, lake trout dive deeper as the summer comes on and the water gets warmer. In this case, you are going to want to use deep-water tackle like diving planers and downriggers. Also make sure you use wire line. Jigging generally works well for summer lake trout fishing. Your best time to fish for lake trout in the summer is early in the morning when the water’s surface is calm.
In the winter, you’ll score the best results ice fishing for lake trout when you use bait like lake herring or minnows. Alternatively, you can jig with spoons and/or jigs with the bait attached.
General tips on gear and bait:
- Remember, lake trout can get quite large, so make sure you have a tough spinning outfit and a strong line
- Jigs, spoons and plugs are great lures, but lake trout also love live and dead-bait, so don’t forget about those options
Lake Trout Fishing on Loughborough Lake
The large area and deep, cool waters at Loughborough Lake make it a popular hangout for lake trout. Open season 2014 runs from the 4th Saturday in May to September 8th. Make sure you have your licence and tag information up-to-date and valid before you head out. Overfishing of lake trout has kept their allowable catch limits relatively low: the sport limit for lake trout on Loughborough is 2, and the conservation limit is 1. Your aggregate limit is 3, meaning you cannot collect more than 3 fish in total from zone 18, Loughborough’s zone – and this includes the fish you have in storage.
Learn more about Ontario fishing regulations.