What can I do if I am terrible at catching trout in deep water?

None of us is such an accomplished angler that there is no room for improvement. I have asked around in a lot of Ontario fishing lodges and resorts. Everyone I spoke to has at least one hole in their fishing game and they are always looking for tips to help them catch more fish. If trout in deep water are the fish that often get away from you, here are some things that may be interfering with your success and some tips to help you improve your game.

The weather is wrong

A cold front can make fish less active. The period after a storm moves through can cause trout to stop feeding. Right before the storm hits, the fish go into a feeding frenzy. Then, they will retreat to deeper water when the atmospheric pressure rises. It does not mean you can’t catch trout, but you will have to follow the trout to deeper water. Also fish tighter to cover. Use smaller lures and fish slower.

You are fishing in the wrong place

If fish are not biting in your fishing spot, don’t expect they will eventually bite if you stick it out. Move. When you are approaching a new spot you want to try, move slowly and silently. Learn the habitat trout like to cruise and hang out in. Look at the terrain features of the land sloping into the lake at the shoreline. You are looking for the deep places below the surface. The land features will continue below the surface of the water, so look for deep channels. Also look for drop offs. There may be one between islands. If you have one, use a depth finder to find or confirm those deep spots. Or, you can go old school and slowly release your weighted line until you find a deep bottom.

You are fishing at the wrong depth

An important key to finding trout is the temperature of the water. Trout prefer the water to be between about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the spring just after the ice melts, the water is cold all the way to the shore. There is more food in the shallow water near the shore, so the trout will be in less than 20 feet of water. Later in the season, when the shallow water begins to warm a bit, the trout will retreat to deeper water. Sometime between late spring and early summer, most of the water at the surface will be warmer than trout can stand. This is when you can expect to find trout in deep water. The hotter the weather and warmer the surface water, the deeper the trout will be. The most active trout aren’t necessarily in the deepest part of the lake or on the bottom. I’ve found 50-70 foot depths to be best mid-summer. Use your fish locator and look for large marks that are up off the bottom as those fish are more active and likely feeding. Fish right on bottom are often inactive, although you may occasionally entice one to bite.

You are using the wrong bait

Trout can be opportunistic feeders, but they expect to find certain foods at the appropriate depth for that food. Trout eat lots of insects, especially subsurface larva. Also worms, minnows, crayfish, night crawlers, and smaller trout. They will eat almost anything that lives in or gets washed into the lake. When using live bait, use bait that lives near the shore when fishing near the shore. Use bigger bait that lives in deeper water when fishing in deeper water. Trout will also hit well on lures and spoons. You can use lures that mimic the appearance, color, and action of a live bait that trout go after. Or use a spoon that they find attractive. If you need guidance selecting live or artificial bait, ask a local vendor near the lake you are fishing. They can tell you what is working for fishermen in that area. Or, if you are fishing at a fishing resort, ask the staff there.

Try trolling

A lot of anglers I know swear by vertical jigging to catch trout, but there are more than a few who have success trolling in deep water. Move your boat as slow as it can go to allow your line to descend. You might even be able to get it to the bottom of the lake. When trolling you might think a heavier line will sink deeper. This is not true because your line is moving. Lighter lines have less friction and slice through the water better. This allows a slow moving 4 to 6-pound test line to go down deeper. Use 1 or 2-ounce weights. They should be heavy enough that your line does not rise but stays at the depth you want when trolling with your boat. If you are going for really big trout, use gear that is heavier, up to 10 to 20-pound line with 1 to 10-ounce weight.

Stop prancing when you jig

You don’t really need a special rod or reel to jig for trout, though I do have my preferences. This is because not all the lure’s action comes from the equipment. A lot of the movement that appeals to trout comes from the movement you do with the rod and reel. And this is why some anglers do not catch the number of trout in deep water that they would like. They do that prancing thing when they jig for trout in the deep hole that they suspect their prey is hanging out in. They pop their rod and then raise it way up in the air to keep the line tight and reel down and repeat with the rod way up in the air again. I guess they do that so they can feel when fish hit their bait. They absolutely will feel the hit IF the fish hits it. The odds are against them. When they keep the line taught like that, the bait swings like a pendulum as it descends. In my experience, trout like to hit bait that is descending naturally and vertically. Try leaving a bit of slack in the line and follow with your rod as the bait descends. Sometimes you will feel a little tap on your line when a fish hits. More often though, you will see your line jump. You do not need to feel that fish hit your line. When you see your line jump, set the hook and bring in your catch. It’s is always good to try a variety of presentations from aggressive movements to very little movement. Fish respond better to different presentations depending on their moods.

Lake Savantis one of the pristine lakes in Ontario that has beautiful trophy-sized lake trout. If you’re interested in having a fly-in fishing experience at a drive-in fishing lodge, successfully catching impressive lake trout, contact us. We’re happy to help you plan your excursion.