For some reason it’s been a few years since I made the trip over to Crystal Lake to try and ice some Lake Trout. Traditionally, most people use tip-ups with smelt or greys, but I decided to keep it simple. My partner and I made the long trek out to the “trout village” and set-up in 165′ of water. The area was peppered with tip-ups, but I was committed to jigging. I wanted to test a theory about mid-winter ice fishing.
During early ice, the fish are usually very aggressive and actively hunting. This is a time of year where tip-ups shine, and they do take some nice fish. However, as winter wears on, light and oxygen become scarce and the fishing slows considerably. The fish go deeper and become more lethargic. This is the time Jonah Jigs shine! Not only do they glow in the deep, dark, mid-winter water, their fluttering, darting action simply trigger these neutral fish into snapping. I had a few hits, and iced one. Not exactly huge numbers, but that was one more than anyone else out there. My partner was fishing live minnows 3 ft away from me and he never got a bump. Several times we watched fish come in and snub the minnow (the real thing) to chase the jig (a glowing hunk of metal). What’s more , not one of the 20+ tip-ups around us went off either.
So many times in dealing with negative or neutral fish, we automatically switch to more finesse methods. But you may be surprised how fishing more aggressively (aka – vertical jigging) could actually be the ticket to saving the day.
By the way, lake trout out of Crystal Lake are delicious and this is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.
Asian Seared Lake Trout
For 30 minutes, marinate fillets in:
- Soy Sauce
- Fresh Grated Ginger
- Crushed Garlic
- Sriracha or Asian Chile Paste
- Drizzle of sesame oil
After 30 minutes, sear the fillets in a hot skillet with 1 tsp of veg. oil. Cook on both sides until just done. Serve immediately over steamed rice, and think of warm days ahead.