Good Year for Lakers at VBL

I’ve been chasing after lake trout on Eagle and Clearwater for many years. This summer proved to be very good for me. I landed six that went 30 inches or better. Lake trout in this class are terrific fighters and, for me, are more fun to catch than any other species. The big ones usually come while trolling deep down in the Trout Holes of the West Arm of Eagle. That method produced a 36 inch fish in August. I wish I had a picture of that beauty to show you, but I was fishing alone and couldn’t manage a decent shot after unhooking it. Watching it rise to the surface after a 15 minute battle is something I’ll remember for a long time. It was released unharmed and I watched it’s image on my sonar unit as it swam back to 75 foot depths. It was one of four really nice fish I caught that day.

The Trout Holes have never produced a lot of lakers for me on any given day. I have to work pretty hard for these fish, which usually means hours of trolling, searching for fish and trying to trigger strikes. And I’m not always successful either. I spent close to nine hours trolling on a beautiful September day that produced one half-hearted strike. No hook-ups and no fish makes for a very long day. Sometimes that’s how it goes when trying to connect with a brute.

But then there is Clearwater Lake. There are lots of lakers in Clearwater, along with whitefish and quality pike. I like vertical jigging in deep water for these trout using the “Lewis Rig”. My friend, Andy, came up with this system which consists of a .75 ounce silver spoon and a white hair jig tied on 24 inches up from the spoon. We use 10 pound test FireLine with a flurocarbon leader to catch a nice combination of lakers and whitefish. The fishing can be exceptional when you catch a strong bite.

Most lakers will run about 21 to 24 inches. These fish are a ball on light tackle, but this summer I got surprised twice by big trout in Clearwater. I had a 33 incher take the jig, and on a different outting, a slightly shorter, but much fatter fish, slammed the spoon. That’s the one pictured in this post. This fish could not be sucessfully released. Gord weighed it at 15.5 pounds and said it contained a good size whitefish in it’s belly. A filet from that laker will be going onto the grill someday soon.

Most anglers who fish out of VBL ignor the lake trout fishery in favor of walleye and pike. Perhaps this post will stimulate your curiosity. If so, I suggest you reference the lake trout primer that Gord and I wrote. I think you’ll find it helpful. It’s located on the VBL web site.

9 thoughts on “Good Year for Lakers at VBL

  1. Great post Professor and some good info for taking lake trout. I notice you lost your red glove in that picture you used?
    Hope it's not floating in the lake somewhere for one of to snag next year?

  2. Notice the locator in the Professor's boat. If you take the portage, be sure to take a locator with you and know how to use it. Locating these schools of lakers and whitefish requires finding a cloud of fish and staying on top of them. One challenge? The wind. Try to pick a calm day if you can for this adventure over to Clearwater, as it is difficult to maintain position and keep your jigging vertical in a big wind. Last year, on way day, we tried back trolling in a wind and took on so much water we had to run the boat with the plug out to avoid swamping the boat.


  3. Also notice the paddle in the Professor's boat. Be sure you know how to use this device effectively, as according to Joe the motor is as intermittent in running as the West Arm trout are at biting. Never fear though, both Clearwater Lake motors have been retrieved at great expense and effort, and are lanquishing at the repair depot as we speak….receiving a well deserved tune up and check over. Should be good to go for 2010, for those brave enough to do the portage trail.

    Nice post Joe! Good looking boat….it matches your shirt!

  4. Nice post, and I can tell you the trout right at the end May aren't bad either.

    We came to LVBL thinking we were coming for Walleyes & Notherns. Ater a 32" laker the first night, it quickly turned into a laker trip.

    After catching more lakers 22" – 28" in a day then I can still believe (trolling in 8'-20' FOW), we are looking forward to next May….for the Lakers!!

  5. A few quick responses…

    Perchman: Click on the photo to enlarge it and you will see my red glove in front of the portable sonar unit. It never leaves my sight.

    Andy: I thought you were trying to drown us for a few minutes there.

    Gord: Thanks for pulling the motors for maintainence. Your guests will appreciate Clearwater all the more with a good running engine.

    Dustin: Go get 'em in May, 2010. You are onto a pattern that a lot of VBL anglers would enjoy getting into, including myself.

    Lurkers: Catching a big, beautiful lake trout is a real possibility at VBL. Give it a try and you may get rewarded. Ask for help if you have questions about how to persue these wonderful fish. Please discipline yourself to release large fish unharmed so that they can continue to grow and reproduce new generations of lakers. This is important because while this species is present, they are not plentiful in Eagle Lake.

    Clearwater Lake can be accessed via a decent portage trail. It takes me about 20-25 minutes to hike into the VBL boat stash. Being on this beautiful lake provides a near wilderness experiece.

  6. The Lakers of Eagle Lake!
    Man, Joe you have caught a few nice ones.
    Most guests at the Lodge catch them in May or June and they are much shallower and closer to the Lodge.
    They probably are released to live again in this shallower depth of water.

  7. The Professor and Charles raise issues that keep me coming back to VBL. It is nice to have the lodge close to where the fish like to congregate in the bay at certain times of the year. I also love the fact that Eagle Lake is a huge body of water. It becomes fairly easy to familiarize yourself with the bay which is in close proximity. However, each year I have tried to learn a new area of this enormous lake (and portage lakes). Trips to Clearwater and the far reaches of the lake offer some truly unique adventures. I like that. It would be impossible to master this entire water body in a life time. I also like the fact that there isn't a specific time of year when you have to come to fish specific species. They simply move to different areas of the lake. There is nothing wrong with the one trick pony that wants to jig every day, or the musky angler that wants to cast the shallows. I enjoy the diverse fishing opportunities that Eagle Lake and VBL have to offer.

  8. Chuck, as you know lake trout have the ability to release pressure from their air bladders, thereby making deep summer fish highly "releasable" with due care. Of course shallow water fish, with the associated cold water temps, are the prime candidates for catch and release. As long as summer trout are handled carefully, and quickly released, there should be little mortality associated. Walleyes, on the other hand, do not have the ability to release the pressure as quickly and can be harmed as a result.

  9. Chuck, as you know the Professor is part lake trout, as he too can release air at will. These events are usually followed by the standard, "excuse me".


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Thank you very much for making my get a way week so enjoyable. Dan and I had a great time. You and Susanne should be commended on how clean and well maintained your cabins and lodge are. I will recommend you to anyone that is looking to go to Canada fishing and I look forward to the time I can come back.

Jody Hansen

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