If you’ve done any sort of trout fishing you probably already know that lake trout go to the deeper water when it gets hot out. Most people go super deep, drop their line down, and start to troll. That actually might not be the best approach and in this post, I’m going to be talking about the best way to catch lake trout in the summer.
If you want to catch lake trout in the summer you need to put away the trolling rod and motor and jig like you would in the winter. You’re going to use the exact same setup as you would for ice fishing and that’s going to make everything easier and less expensive. It can be done with any type of boat and you don’t need all that fancy gear.
I’m not saying this is the absolute best way to fish but it’s what I’ve had the best results with. I’ve always trolled for lake trout but recently have been doing this and have seen better results. I also think it’s a bit more fun to fish like this. Continue reading for the full details on how to jig for lake trout in the summer.
Where To Find Lake Trout
The reason I like to jig for lake trout is that the majority of them are going to be in easy to find locations. All I have to do is go to that spot, anchor the boat, and start jigging. The good news is that you don’t need a fish finder to find the spots.
If you already know your local waters well then you’ll probably already know where the spots are but if not, you can use a free website called Navionics. You can learn how to use Navionics here. It’s a website that’s going to show you exactly what’s going on under the water.
What you want to fish around are underwater points, drop off points, and mounds. These are the spots where 90% of the lake trout are going to be. You can type in your lake in Navionics and it’ll show you exactly where these things are. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to read the map but I explain all that in the post above.
You can also look for pinch-off points because that’s where a lot of the lake trout will be sitting and eating. This could be an underwater wall, a funnel point, or something else along those lines.
Lake Trout Gear
The first thing you’re going to need is the right fishing rod. You probably can use whatever type of rod you want but I normally go with something around 7-9 foot that has a medium-heavy backbone. Either a spinning or baitcasting rod will work the best but it’s really up to you. Most people will go with a spinning rod because they’re so easy to use but other people find a baitcaster more fun to fish with.
The next thing you’ll need is the right fishing line. You can use straight mono or fluoro but you’ll want to make sure your line is heavy enough to handle whatever you’re fishing for. Somewhere around 10-15 lb should be good enough. I normally use a 20-30 lb braided line with a 12-15 lb fluorocarbon leader. Sometimes I go heavier, sometimes I go lighter, but that’s what I use the majority of the time.
The reason I like using braid is that it’s easier to cast and I can get more distance out of it. It’s softer and thinner than mono or fluoro (same lb test) and that’s where the extra distance comes from. It’s also more sensitive so you can throw it on a cheaper rod and you’ll still feel all the bites. I’ll use fluorocarbon as my leader because it’s invisible to the trout. All you need is a 5-foot leader and you’re good to go (tie them together directly or with swivel). Here’s how to connect the lines directly:
Best Summertime Lake Trout Jig
There are a number of different options you can pick from when it comes to jigging rigs. My favorite would have to be a white or chartreuse grub (1/4-3/8 oz jig head) or a tube jig. Here are our favorites. They also work well for bass, walleye, and pike.
If you don’t have either of those baits then you can always use soft plastic worms or something similar to it. You’ll want to think about what the fish in your area are actually eating. Are they eating crawfish? Maybe it’s shinners. Whatever they’re eating, that’s probably what you’ll want to use but I’ve always found grubs or tube jigs to work the best.
How To Jig For Lake Trout
Jigging is a pretty simple concept, but if you don’t know what it is, all you’re doing is staying still, lowering your line down, lifting your line up, and repeating this process. You don’t need to troll, you don’t need a fish finder, and you don’t need expensive gear.
The only two things you’ll need to focus on are finding the right spots and the right depth. We talked about finding the right spots a little earlier but the main thing you’ll want to find out is where the underwater points, drop-off spots, and mounds are. These are the areas where you’ll want to spend 90% of your time.
The second thing you’ll want to make sure is that you’re fishing at the right depth. Most people will drop their line right to the bottom and even though that could work, it’s not always the best option.
Trout do like colder water (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit) but a lot of the time the water at the very bottom is super cold with little oxygen. There are three different layers in the water and you’ll want to spend your time fishing the base of the middle one (called the thermocline). They like this area because it’s cold enough and there’s still oxygen.
It’s not always easy to find the exact depth but as a general rule, the thermocline will be 30 feet down in June and 40 feet down in July and August. You’ll want to jig around 10 feet below these levels. The total depth of the water doesn’t matter. If you can find a mound, drop-off point, or point that’s in the thermocline, that’s the golden spot.
You can always start deeper and reel up 10 feet every 5 minutes until you find the fish. That’s what I normally do but most of the time they’re right around 50 feet in mid-summer.
Another reason you want to fish there (and not the bottom) is that baitfish aren’t going to be at the bottom. They probably can’t survive down there, and if there’s no baitfish down there, there probably aren’t many lakers.
All you have to do is go to the right spot, drop your line down, pause for a few seconds, lift your rod up, pause, and lower it back down. It’s a bit more work compared to trolling and some people won’t want to do it but I do think you’ll catch more trout doing it.
Happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.