Digging Deep for Yukon Lake Trout

If you are like me, when you pull into the drive-through for a Tim Hortons coffee, you take note of the boats sitting in the fenced yard. There are some beautiful, fully loaded boats with massive, glistening four-stroke motors just taunting you to dip into your line of credit for another luxury.

Personally, I own a small aluminum boat and often suffer from boat-envy. My 16-foot aluminum with a 30 “kicker” is easy to handle and safe enough for most Yukon waters on a calm day. However, if that wind and weather kicks up, in some of our deep lakes, it sure would be nice to have some cover and horsepower to count on.

My buddy Bernie is the owner of one such boat and loves nothing more than to go out each weekend in big water searching for lake trout. This summer, he invited me out to fish Lake Laberge with his wife Donna and his dog, Luna. Sure I have fished for lake trout, before, but I knew that Bernie, his boat and his crew had these fish “dialed in” and catch a ton each summer.

Unfortunately, on this day, Lake Laberge was not co-operating with high winds and accompanying rolling, white-capped waves. With safety in mind, we quickly launched the boat and found shelter on the far side of an island, well out of the prevailing wind. Limited by the wind, our strategy was to troll this area back and forth at different depths.

Bernie set up two rods in the holder, threw on some two- to four-ounce trolling weights and rigged up two different, large, flashy lures. The next step was to count out 30 to 50 “pulls” as you let out your line.

Each pull is about a foot, so one can estimate we had about 30 to 50 feet of line out there. Factoring in trolling speed, weight used and the number of pulls, the lines were anywhere within 20 to 40 feet of water.

In the height of summer, lake trout go deep. Our job, on this windy day, was to try and find out what depth the fish were hiding in. After a couple of hours of trolling, with no luck, we decided to pull in the big guns – downriggers, to get the lures really deep.

Downriggers are mounted on the boat and use a large weight and cable to suspend your lure at a specific depth. In our case, we were trolling in about 80 feet of water and tried to get the lures down to 60 feet.

We tried for another few hours and, with the exception of one short-lived fight, left empty-handed. I don’t think we could have done anything different on this windy day. We worked this small area hard, trying a variety of depths and presentations.

I don’t expect I will buy a large boat soon, but I do feel a great sense of validation as I fish these same techniques in the shallower, smaller lakes.

If you would like to share your fishing story or hear more about this one, visit Dennis Zimmermann’s Yukon fishing blog at www.fishonyukon.com.

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