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JBMasterAngler

Line Strength vs. Lakers Through The Ice

31 posts in this topic

What pound test line do you typically use for lake trout in the winter? I'll get to give lakers a try once, maybe twice a winter so I just use my walleye stick with 6 pound test. Is that good enough?

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JB, one nice thing about winter lakers is you don't usually have to worry about rocks/wood/weeds abrading your line.

So you can get by with 6 lb line. You'll have to, of course, be very patient, because even a 3-5 lb laker can strip off a lot of 6 lb line if your drag is set right. For folks who want to use walleye-weight gear, I always recommend just spooling one reel with 10 lb line so you've got a bit more power there.

I use 12 to 14 lb line. Partly that's because my rods are heavier than yours. A couple medium actions with a nice tip and good stiff butt with 12 pound line and a medium-heavy with 14 lb. While you can put heavier line on a lighter rod, it's tougher to put light line on a heavier rod and still get things to work well.

Lure weight is also a factor. If you're using a light rod and light line, you're going to be more limited to lighter lures, and slightly heavier is the rule for lakers vs walleyes.

I won't go heavier than 14 because it fishes too heavy for my rods and lures, and I won't go down to 6 to 10 because, if I happen into that 20-lb plus fish I want a little muscle behind me.

I only ever use mono because I'm never sure from moment to moment whether I'm going to be fishing from a heated shelter (superbraids are great there) or outdoors in the cold (superbraids ice up and make you mad there). grin.gif

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I agree with the 10-14lb range and the mono comment. I like the thought of mono because of the stretch involved. Those Lakers make some sudden and mighty runs and I like the extra security of the line soaking up some of that force.

For my first time last year I used 14lb mono with a leader of 10lb flouro. I caught a 1.5lb fish and a 6lb fish. Both fought very well, but I was thankful for the 14lb when I was fighting the 6'r. There is some danger of line abrasion on the bottom of the hole as you get the fish near the top, but if you play the fish right, you can keep this to a minimum.

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Biggest laker I've gotten through the ice is an 8 pounder, and oh boy was that a battle to remember! If I hook into a 20 pounder it better be on my tip up or it'll shatter my rod and reel! Thanks for the info though, was very helpful. Last year I made it to gunflint for my laker get away, but this year I'll go up to ely and see what I can get.

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Lots of good rods on the shelves at all the shops. I like a longer med/heavy to heavy rod in the 36" plus range and a Power Pro main line with a 3-6' 12# mono backer. Thats for inland lakers.

Lake Superior is a whole different ball game.

Lakers arent usually line shy so why chance it? Go with the heaviest line you can that will allow your lures to move the way you want.

I also like the way thicker lines slow down the drop of some lures. I like the Power Pro for good no stretch hooksets in deep waters and sensitivity. Most of my heavier laker rods are fiberglass or a low graphite/glass mix. I like the way the glass gives more than the graphite in the same action rod.

A good rod and smooth reel will allow you to go a bit lighter on line with some patience. 1 thing is make sure you have good line capacity on your laker reels. They will spool a smaller walleye sized reel pretty easy.

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Good perspective, Steve.

I also should add that I use 20# mono on my laker tip-up and a 14# fluoro leader. With no rod to take the shock it's all up to the line.

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I think I should fess up for STF and I. Last years down rigger cable is this years tip-up line. It does tend to trash stuff but what the heck. When you're going for the big boys grin.gif

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Dang, dude, that was supposed to be a secret! Next thing you know you'll be giving up that secret spot where the lakers are so big you NEED downrigger cable on your tip-up. grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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Quote:

Next thing you know you'll be giving up that secret spot where the lakers are so big you NEED downrigger cable on your tip-up.


Hey I know that spot, its by an island with some trees on it with some rocks along the shore. tongue.giftongue.gif

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Hey I know that spot, its by an island with some trees on it with some rocks along the shore. tongue.giftongue.gif


Oh man, I am SO BUSTED! grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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NO Blain thats the other spot.

The one with the really big ones is out front of the Blue Log A frame with the sauna on shore with a peace sign on it and Bob Marley on the outhouse.

I think the owners name is Casaloma or something like that. grin.gif

Lots of smoke always coming out of that Sauna. Oh wait maybe it was the outhouse all the smoke was coming out of. wink.gif

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Heck, I been fishing lakers for two years now up on burntside....use 4 lb line if you want, I have. This year I may even try some 2 lb fireline. Its not supposed to ice up like a braid, but still has the sensitivity and no strech advantages.

Then again, I havent caught a laker thru the ice yet except for tip ups so what do I know.

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I'll have a couple rods with. One with 10 lb mono barrel swivel and leader. For me and the lures I use I get that best results with that 10 lb. Its matched to lure drop and lure weight plus it gives swimming jigs more action. I tried heavier line but the coil it gave took away a lot of the lure contact.

The other rod will be spooled with 10 lb super braid. A barrel swivel makes the connection from braid to 10 lb mono leader. That reel will be a baitcast/level wind. Braids will freeze to some extent, when that happens on a spinning reels it pull off in clumps.

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I have 3 rods for lakers, 2 spooled with 6/20 powerpro to a barrel swivel and 10# leader of flouro, and will be trying one rod with 8# Gamma this year.

2 rods are 30" med/med heavy walleye rods for use in the Otter, the other i made this fall, is a 44" made from the top half of a 7' med. light spinning rod (shattered the bottom half). I plan to use this as my "outside" rod with the mono (too long to use in the Otter). All 3 have 1500 series spinning reels, just cause I dont have any baitcasters that would work. Would like to eventually get one for the "longrod".

I think that you could get along with the 6#, but just in case you get a nice fish, 10# would be nice to have. As important i believe, is a smooth drag set correctly according to the type of line you are using. Those laker runs can be incredible!!

Welcome to the addiction grin.gif

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Good thoughts on the drag, Chris. That's a biggie indeed. I've just been using an Ambassadeur 5500C3 on one baitcasting laker rod and a 4600C on the other. Basic bass size reels which, as you mentioned, have smooth drags.

I think, on balance, I like the spinning rigs best. I've been using them both hard for inland winter lakers for I guess about five years now. I started out preferring the baitcasters but have switched camps. Not by much. They're pretty even as far as capabilities.

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10 lb. PowerPro with a 10 lb. fluoro Leader for spinning reels.

I just use one of my bass baitcasters that's still spooled with summertime 30 lb PP and the same 10 lb. fluro. I also use a barrel swivel for the connections.

Yes, the braids can be a pain in the arse when fishing out in the elements. But I sure do like the feel and instant hookset.

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I've done almost all of my laker fishing with tip-ups. A lot of my time used to be spend on Thomas, Knife and Burke and Sunday after a long ski in. Equipment had to make it, and I guess I never trusted bringing a spinning reel (or even a baitcaster) in that far only to have a bail break or whatever. For jigging, I'd rig up a stiff, glass, ice fishing rod with a cheap single action fly reel. On both tip ups and the jigging stick I'd load 30# braided and then run a leader of either 12# or 15# mono. Dozens of trips, no breakdowns, lots of fish. I guess I didn't fish Snowbank or Burntside enough to change my tactics. You'll probably see the old style at the Bash this year! smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif

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That's cool, Ken. So much talk about modern tackle and tactics these days, about the thrill — part video game and part mind game — of seeing a laker on the electronics and egging it on until it makes that aggressive strike. Sometimes the older ways get lost. And sometimes the simple ways are best.

Sure would love to get up to Knife at least once and sample those amazing lakers in Lake Trout God Country. All those mushers keep coming back with stories of lots of fish, and much larger average size, than you can get on Bside, and also with the possibility of really big ones. I've walked into Trout Lake off Vermilion half a dozen times, but those few miles are nothing compared with the trek back and forth to Knife.

FWIW, most years nearly half (and some years more than half) my lakers have come off tip-ups, which I typically fish half way up the water column about 20-30 feet from my jigging hole. Fish I can't get to go on the lures will sometimes turn away and see that live bait wigging over there and BAM!

It's been mostly live golden shiners or rainbows for me, though I'm told by the oldsters that a dead cisco on the bottom is one of the best ways, especially for larger fish near or in deep water. And I've found that catching a live smelt on a laker lure and transferring it to the tip-up is the closest to a sure thing I've had on Burntside. grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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Man, those were some long trips. I've got some photos in the old slide collection of some of our trips including fishing right in front of Thunder Point on Knife. Some day I'll see what I can find and share. We always tried to find water depth from 30 to 60 feet and lay a dead cisco about a foot or two from the bottom. If that was on a known drop off leading to 80, 90 or even 100 feet, so much the better.

I'd say 90% of the trout I've caught has been with this method. Many of the old timers used to bring in "hangers" instead of tip ups. The would bend some brazing rod to look like an hour glass and weld a ring onto the top. Wrap line around the rod, hang from a stick cut back from the shoreline and put a bit of orange flagging onto the string above the hole, and you had a fishing rig that weighed even less than a tip up.:)

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A day-trip into Knife for lakers, I would really be game for that one! Do I hear a future "Xploration" in its infancy???

Out of curiousity, what is the route/distance/@time that would be required to get to Knife?

Before selecting lac la Croix as the destination for my brother and I's inaugural BW trip together this upcoming June, he had considered going to Knife. He has never caught a laker, and since we are going the first week of June we thought that the lakers would most likely still be shallow.

Finnbay, any info on a trip into Knife for the day would be interesting. Sounds like I might need to add this one to my life-list!

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Xplorer,

A day trip up to Knife without a dog team is pretty tough. There were a couple of skiers up here (Dan Litchfield and Roger Pekuri) who could do it. It's close to 10 miles into where you can fish. We would pull pulks and camp for 3 or 4 days. Two ways to go in. We usually started at Snowbank, went out the north end to Boot Lake and took the old portage to Ensign. From there it was into Vera and then Knife. The other route leaves from the Moose Lake Landing and goes through Moose, Newfound, Splash, Ensign, Vera and Knife. That's the way the sled doggers go. We never caught a ton of fish on Knife - usually enough to eat and a limit to bring out. Haven't been up there for a few years now, but hear the fishing has actually gotten better. For the real adventurist, there are several side trips from Knife for more trout fishing. laugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.gif

p.s. Should anybody be thinking about a trip up to Knife, there are a couple of winter shortcuts that make the trip easier. On the north end of Snowbank, there is a winter trail through the swamp to the west of the bay leading to Boot that keeps you from the open water along the regular Boot Lake Portage. There is also and easier route from Ensign to Vera than the summer portage (that one's a bear!). To the east of the summer portage, there is a meadow and beaver slough trail that doesn't climb as fast on its way to Vera. I'm sure the sled doggers will have it packed. Good luck! laugh.gif

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Ken,

I just printed off your info, much appreciated! It will give me a chance to spend some evenings this winter looking at what it will take to make a trip in there. Sounds like a 2 or 3 day trip minimum to have enough time to fish. I haven't done any winter camping before, so I'll have to start my planning/research there.

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10lb mono on my ice rod. Brought up a 18lb laker from 60' last February on Nothern Light Lake (Ontario).

gonorth

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Well I'm going shopping tonight and will look over all these options. I won't be fishing for lakers until march, but hey, it's never too soon to be ready, right?

And as far as tip up tactics go, live minnows work better suspended and frozen cisco work better on the bottom?

Speaking of which, I use 20 lb mono on about a 10 ft leader on my tip up. I'm gonna switch to 20 lb flouro for this year. Haven't had a pike bite off my line yet...YET being the key word. I'm glad to hear lakers aren't line shy, that was a big concern for me.

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Paddled into knife this spring, can,t hardly imagine doing it in the winter. Nice lakers, big pike and an eye but the whitefish oh my I liked them. I've already said too much. For laker line i have all sizes with me from mono 2#-- 30# braided, there's a place for it all. Spare spools of new light mono line is a must. Those things can strech and ruin line like crazy. Last year i landed a six pounder on 2 pound test mono and half a waxy, I really don't want to fight a fish that long but when nothing works and fish are looking you have to downsize sometimes micro. Drag is the most important thing with light line, it's got to be smooth. Most of my fish come on six pound test and it takes awhile to bring them in but isn't that the fun of it. Bring on the opener and all trout beware.

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