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Fat and Sassy Trouts

Fishing 411 TV Blog

Mark Romanack

Vertical jigging for deep water lake trout is absolutely a riot. On light tackle trout are amazing fighters and these days the Great Lakes are crawling with lakers just waiting to suck in a jig.


The Fishing 411 TV crew has enjoyed a long time love affair with the lake trout of the Great Lakes. Besides being abundant, these fish grow to huge sizes and even better they love to hit a wealth of fishing presentations. Overwhelmingly our favorite way to catch lakers is on jigging gear. Nothing beats feeling the thump of a big lake trout, setting the hook hard and feeling the weight of a heavy fish.


JIGS AND PADDLETAILS

The traditional way to jig up lake trout is with a hefty sized jig dressed with an oversized plastic twister trail or swimbait style paddle tail. For most lake trout jigging applications an one ounce jig is about the minimum size and it’s often necessary to have two or even three ounce jigs on board.

These jigs must be equipped with an oversized hook that can easily accommodate big plastics. The ideal hook sizes for these jigs starts at 4/0 and for some of the bigger plastics it’s better to be fishing a jig with a 5/0 or even 6/0 hook.

When it comes to lake trout, big baits are almost always the best option. We often find ourselves having the best success with big curl-tail grubs like the Z-Man GrubZ in the nine inch size. We also do very well with the Z-Man SwimZ an eight inch paddle-tail grub.


Captain Travis White (left) of Keweenaw Charter Fishing Company and Jake Romanack of Fishing 411 TV show off some fat and sassy trouts they jigged up from Lake Superior


BLADE BAITS

The vibration of a blade bait will at times drive lake trout crazy. The problem is finding these baits in the sizes/weights needed for deep water jigging. The SteelShad company makes a 3/4 ounce blade bait that is nearly ideal for lake trout jigging. I like the white color, but lakers will gobble a bunch of different colors in these lively baits.

My experience suggests that blade baits work the best when lakers are actively feeding on top of deep water structure. It’s an aggressive pop of the rod top that brings these baits to life. After popping the blade bait off bottom, let it fall on a slack line and crash the bottom. Typically, lakers will pin the bait to the bottom so when you lift the rod to make another jigging stroke the fish is just there.


JIGGING SPOONS

In the northern most reaches of the Great Lakes, the Swedish Pimple by Bay de Noc Lure Company is the “go to” lure for lake trout jigging. Pimples are perfect for deep water jigging as they sink fast and feature a darting action when worked aggressively.

Traditionalists say you have to fish a Swedish Pimple clean, but I find that tipping the treble hook with the head of a minnow makes them even more effective.


BUCKTAILS

Talk about traditional, the bucktail jig is about as basic as it gets for deep water jigging. There is just something about the pulsation of a bucktail jig in the water that no other fishing presentation can duplicate.

For years I’ve struggled to find bucktails big enough for lake trout jigging. While you can find saltwater style jigs with yellow bucktail, finding jigs with premium bucktail dressings and even more important quality hooks has proved difficult.

Recently, I discovered the Trokar Pro V Bend Bucktail Jigs by Eagle Claw. These jigs feature premium finishes, top grade bucktail and the sharpest hooks on Earth the Trokar. Available in 3/4, one ounce, 1.5, 2 and 3 ounce models, these jigs could not be more perfect for lake trout jigging.

Fished clean or tipped with a small sucker minnow, I’ve yet to see anything that can compare to these jigs when lake trout fishing gets tough.

Available in five colors, including glow, chartreuse, white, pink and shad, all five are fishy.


STINGER HOOKS

In most instances jigging for lake trout calls for using stinger hooks. I like to tie my own because it’s hard to find stinger hooks tied using No. 4 treble hooks. The TK Trokar 300 is the perfect stinger hook for lake trout jigging with soft plastics, bucktails and also live bait. I tie mine on 20# test fluorocarbon and make them four to six inches long depending on the size of the plastic or live bait being used.


SCENT IS A MUST

Even when jigging using live bait, a quality fish scent such as Pro Cure Super Gel is a huge advantage when targeting lake trout. I like to match the hatch and use scent products that replicate the naturally available forage species such as smelt, herring or alewife.


Most freshwater jigging rods are not going to be stiff enough to handle lake trout jigs. Travis White is fighting a nice laker using a saltwater jigging stick that is up to the task.


FINAL THOUGHTS

When you find yourself fishing jigs larger than one ounce, the typical medium action spinning or baitcasting rod is not going to be stiff enough to handle this much weight. Bumping up to medium/heavy or heavy action spinning or baitcasting rod is a must.

Super braid line is also a must and for lake trout jigging 10 to 15 pound test is ideal. I terminate the braid using a double uni knot and three or four foot leader of 20# test fluorocarbon.

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