by Tim Moore
When I mention lake trout fishing to most anglers I usually get one of two responses, “I love trolling” or, “I hate trolling.” For many lake trout angler, trolling is synonymous with lake trout fishing. I’m not the biggest fan of trolling. I don’t have anything against it, I just can’t get over the feeling I get when I set the hook on a fish. So, when I discovered that there was not only a time and place to vertical jig for lakers, but the numbers were high, I was immediately intrigued.
When lake water temperatures reach their highest, usually in August, lake trout will head deep. As the days grow shorter and the water begins to cool back down, the lakers begin to school up in greater numbers and feed aggressively. The shorter days tell the trout that it’s almost time to spawn. For that they will need fat reserves, so they sometimes feed all day.
August and September lake trout are typically found in some of the deepest areas of a lake. On Lake
Winnipesaukee they often suspend 100’ down over 150’ of water. This makes them somewhat easier to locate, but not always easy to catch. They typically see a fair amount of fishing pressure. Using a lure that they haven’t seen before is sometimes the key to a more productive trip.
My favorite lures were actually designed for salt water. The Daddy Mac Lures 1.4 ounce Albie jig in blue or black is a blade-style spoon that closely resembles the size and profile of the rainbow smelt that lake trout are often feeding on. Getting the jig down the 100’ to the fish is only half the battle. Keeping your jig vertical is important, and can be difficult on windy days.
As for a particular jigging cadence, the fish pick the winners. Vary your cadence until you figure out what best triggers bites and by all means, pay close attention to your line on the drop. Count down how long it takes to get to the bottom, and to the fish. Then, if your lure stops sinking early you know a fish has it in its mouth, and you can close your bail and set the hook.
Vertical jigging lake trout in August and September is one of my favorite activities, both as an angler and as a guide. Having a 50 fish days is not uncommon, and 100 fish days are possible. It’s a numbers game. Just remember that you are bringing these fish up from deep water. They will need time to expel gasses from their swim bladder, so bring them up slow. You will notice that they will fight hard at first, then feel like dead weight, and then begin to fight again once they burp out some of the air in their swim bladder. Moments later you may see air bubbles rise to the surface. If you have never experienced this vertical lake trout bite, and you can get it figured out, you may find that you have a new fall fishing activity. They hit hard, fight strong, and appear in numbers.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.