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Monday, May 14, 2012

Fishing Minnesota Trout Lakes

Fishing Minnesota Trout Lakes

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: 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.


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