Lake Trout on the fly is an achievement that few anglers have successfully accomplished. Due to the natural behavior of these fish, targeting them with a fly rod can be more than difficult. Twice a year fly anglers get a chance to present a fly to lakers as they move into the shallows to fatten up in the spring and when they spawn in the fall. It is these unique periods where these fish are up in 3-12 feet of water.
What speed should the retrieve be? Fast and steady....
Yesterday I had the opportunity to head up to Lake Granby and fish with Bernie of Fishing With Bernie Guide Service. He specializes in catching BIG lakers on conventional tackle and wanted to see how a few "fly guys" would do. Good friend Tim Romano and I headed out ready to show Bernie how easy catching a trophy on a fly would be.
According to Bernie we would need to bring up fly rods between 7-10 wt. I brought my 8wt Gloomis NRX and a 9 wt Winston BIIMX. Fast action rods make life easier when doing battle with a big laker. More importantly a fast rod will also lessen the chances for hooking yourself when working big flies in heavy wind with heavy sink lines.
I loaded up a few reels with some specialty fly lines to help effectively fish the 3-12 foot depths that we would be targeting. On the 8wt I loaded up the SA Wet Tip Clear Line to fish in the shallow spots. I prefer this line to a floater because it cuts under the waves much better than a full floating line. This give you better contact with your fly and increases you hook up rate. On the 9 wt I loaded up the SA Streamer Express line with a 250 gr 30 ft head. This line allows me to effectively fish between 7 and 15 feet depending on the speed of my retrieve. I figured we had our basis covered with these two lines.
The typical baits used by Bernie and the Lake Trout Mafia! Use the iPhone for scale.
Bernie recommended we bring along flies that were at minimum 6 in in length. The best colors, black, white, and natural variants with sparse flash. I tied up a few choice flies the evening before and raided the fly bins at the shop. Pike flies double nicely as laker flies.
Hey there buddy.
So we stepped onto the boat and motored over to our first spot. Peeling line off the reel I felt confident about what was about to happen. That confidence was rewarded with a follow from a fish between 24-28 inches within the first handful of casts. Easy, I thought to my self. Well that would be the first and last fish that I saw that day. Tim had a similar experience on a different rocky flat. The fish seemed to be keyed into the all black 7" long bunny fly that we were stripping. In three hours of fishing we moved two massive fish, but could not get them to commit.
Tim choosing the fly rod over a grip of other spin rods in the boat.
At the end of the day Bernie mentioned that it took him close to a year to finally land one on a fly. Since that first one he continues to chase them with huge flies and heavy gear. All things considered I felt that a couple of follows was not too bad. After seeing these huge fish about a foot behind my fly I can't wait to get back up there and try again. Talk about an addictive species. Its no wonder that Bernie has spent almost the last quarter century targeting lake trout on Granby.
Worn out after just three hours of casting!
Tis the season and those fish are beautiful! Give the shop a call or look up Bernie if you are interested in learning more about these illusive fish on a fly!