Lake Trout (Portage Indiana)

Belonging to the char group, the lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is known as togue (in the Northeast), mackinaw (in the West), and as gray trout in much of Canada. Native throughout Canada and across the northern United States, lake trout require cold, well-oxygenated waters from 43°F to 56°F. V

 Bread & Butter Lake Trout

Within the waters of the Great Lakes there are 180 different types of native fish. The largest of these fish is the Lake Sturgeon, which can grow to over 8 feet (1.8 meters) long. The Bread and Butter fish of the Great Lakes is the Lake Trout.  With stable weather and water conditions they can be caught in the same areas for days or even weeks. They are much easier to catch at times when there  is some wave action, which imparts more action to the lures because of boat movement. Also, when the fish are in shallow waters during the Spring and Fall, cloudy, overcast days will produce  better.  Like all fish, Lakers are sensitive to brightness, so on bright days early morning and later in the evening are best.

The lake trout also known as laker, can be distinguished by its white mouth, irregular whitish spots on the back and sides, deeply forked tail and a white leading edge on the lower fins.  The good of adult lake trout consists of fish, insects and small invertebrates. Sexually mature adults weight 6 to 7 pounds at about 6 years of age. Lake trout may live 20 years or longer and attain weights of 30 pounds or more. They are usually found on the bottom between depths of 90 to 250 feet, but may be found at lesser depths when the water temperature is near 48 degrees F. Generally, lake trout are caught only from boats in Illinois. The lake trout in Lake Michigan have been maintained by an annual stocking program since 1965 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with hopes of reestablishing a naturally reproducing population. Lake trout disappeared in Lake Michigan in the early 1950s due to the ravages of the sea lamprey and an intensive commercial fishery.  During the spring months, lake trout can be taken in the upper layers of warmer water, but as the season progresses and water temperatures go above 48 degrees F., lake trout are normally taken near the bottom. During the summer months (July-September) they tend to occur near the bottom where temperatures are between 45 and 50 degrees F. During the fall months mature lake trout move into shallow waters and reef areas in search of spawning areas.  Shiny metal spoons are successful lake trout lures when fished properly. Certain salmon lures and flies in combination with a dodger also are effective. Lake trout feed on alewives, smelt, chubs and sculpins.

SPAWNING LAKERS (BURNS DITCH, PORTAGE INDIANA)

The few hardy anglers who remain active late into the fall can get in on some great lake trout fishing when the fish desert their offshore haunts and move close to shore to spawn. November usually provides the top fishing action. The best two spots in Indiana are the submerged reef just north of the Port of Indiana at Portage and the shallow water off the beach at East Chicago. Spawning trout don’t go on a hunger strike as salmon often do. When the trout are in, expect multiple hookups on fish up to 20 pounds.

A Few Notable Tips for Catching Lake Trout

  1. Always check the water temperature. Lakers prefer 43-56 degree water and will generally be somewhere within that range.
  2. Lakers are lazy fish, so troll slowly. When marking fish, change trolling speed and direction often , as it triggers strikes.
  3. Never assume Lakers aren’t there. Many graphs can’t single them out when they are at the bottom.
  4. Experiment continually with lure and attractor combinations.  Always believe the trout will hit as soon as the right depth and speed are presented.
  5. Spring and Fall are prime times to troll spoons and plugs on long lines (75 to 100 feet) without attractors.
  6. Days with a good amount of wave action are better, as the boat imparts more action on the lures.

 Even though lakers are the easiest of all the Great Lakes sport fish to catch, they don’t just jump in your boat! Experimentation is the key with lakers.

Here is what a well known fishing guide had to say about fishing for Lakers on the reef  at Burns Ditch in November.

” Yup!….. Catching Lakers on the reef gets expensive FAST.. You WILL lose a TON of gear if you are fishing right.”

“The key is to stay up on top of the reef and troll down close to 1.5 mph.
Run a  smoke and fire dot dodger with a Spin N  Glo, in yellow and white to start
Try to run everything right off the the top of the reef. You will be bumping bottom,  which is why you lose so much gear. Run dipsys out 20-30 feet, riggers down around 15 feet and  three colors of  core off planer boards close to the boat.
Pull up  lines often and check for nicks in the line  to help save you some $$$.
Run some lures out on boards out to the sides of the reef for bonus fish like Steelhead and Browns.
Watch your gear!  I heard of a guy that hit the reef with his four downriggers  and it ripped off  his trolling board,  taking with it a ton of rods and all four riggers.”

Troller and jiggers –Please be considerate of each other. It is a big lake out there.  Watch for trolling patterns, markers, etc. Sit and watch a boat-if they are trolling or if you see a marker-to see if there is a boat that is trolling before you pull in on an area.  Don’t sit down in someone’s trolling pattern.  Likewise if someone is jigging, don’t troll too close. Anchor lines can be out there a long ways.  Don’t drag your lines through an area where there are  anglers in boats that are jigging.  You are going to catch lines.  Some anglers like to sit and cast out.  If you pull in beside other boats you could be pulling in where they are casting.   Ask if they are casting, where their anchor lines are, etc.

It’s a good idea hire a guide  for at least one trip before you venture out on your own. It’s well worth the money just in tackle savings alone…..Good Luck!

This news article appeared in The Chicago Tribune on  November 29th  of 2010…..

 December fishing on Lake Michigan

By Don Dziedzina and On the outdoors | November 29, 2010
Lake trout fishing in Lake Michigan is at its best in December. A good place to put in is at Burns Ditch (the Burns Waterway) in northern Indiana. The artificial reef that parallels the Port of Indiana’s northern break wall is a real hot spot for lakers. The port is about a mile to the northeast from the mouth of the ditch. At this time of the year, the trout will move to the reef to feed on bait. When it gets colder, they move off into the port because of the warm-water discharges.

Here is what a well known fishing guide had to say about fishing for Lakers on the reef at Portage, Indiana in November:

” Yup!….. Catching Lakers on the reef gets expensive FAST.. You WILL lose a TON of gear if you are fishing right.”

“The key is to stay up on top of the reef and troll down close to 1.5 mph. Run a  smoke and fire dot dodger with a Spin N  Glo, in yellow and white to start.  Try to run everything right off the the top of the reef. You will be bumping bottom,  which is why you lose so much gear. Run dipsys out 20-30 feet, riggers down around 15 feet and  three colors of  core off planer boards close to the boat.

Pull up  lines often and check for nicks in the line  to help save you some $$$.
Run some lures out on boards out to the sides of the reef for bonus fish like Steelheads and Browns.
Watch your gear!  I heard of a guy that hit the reef with his four downriggers  and it ripped off  his trolling board,  taking with it a ton of rods and all four riggers.”

Thanks for Looking…..Good Luck!