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I just got a downrigger and I've heard that some people downrig for lakers, even big pike, on Pokeg. Can someone give me some tips on how to get started? What kind of depths? Speeds? Best time of day? Lures to try?

I understand that the Sherry Arm is the place, but that's a lot of water. Any specific areas or depths?

Any help is much appreciated!

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I have done quite a bit of downrigging for lakers on Lake of the Woods in the Sioux Narrows area. Lakers can be anywhere in the water column since they are a pelagic fish (I was reading the dictionary again). The spring of the year typically will accommodate anywhere due to the cold waters, but they go where the bait is. Look for clouds of smelt as others have said and troll at or above them. We have seen trout (on our graph) come off the bottom of 90 feet and shot up to our spoons 10' from the surface. I caught a 22 lb laker on LOTW 20' under the boat jiggin' in 120' of water.
We troll anywhere from .8 mph to 2-3 mph. Find out what they want. Sometimes they like a "trigger" such as slowing down or speeding up. Sometimes we'll see a "follower" on the graph and we'll crank up a few cranks and then drop back down (or something like that) and it will trigger a strike.
As for lures. I like spoons (Dr. spoons, cleos, whatever), but I've used cranks and many other things. We have had success with dodgers and cowbells and our lures trailing 18' to 2 feet behind. It's a good combination for attracting the trout. There are squids in the Cabellas catalog, and we have used ciscos (or smelt) on them and that has been the best bet over the past few years.
One other thing I play with is length of line behind the release. Sometimes I feel that the weight may either spook or attract the fish, so I adjust my distance behind accordingly.
That's my $0.02 worth. Feel free to ask any other questions.

May your house always smell like fish...

[This message has been edited by stick (edited 08-27-2004).]

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey guys, I fish up your way a bit, mostly during the hardwater period but from living and fishing on Lake Superior I thought I would give some input on this topic.

Trout are so temp. and oxygen related and will move to desired temperatures and oxygen concentrations throughout the season. Where in the spring you will find them shallow then as summer progresses you will see them go deeper and deeper. Then in the fall and winter you see it happen again.

Anyways, as stick stated they will follow the bait fish. And I know in Pokegama that would be smelt, but in the summer months they also may occupy deep parts of the system and feed off of the bottom on different food sources. But my first choice would be to locate big schools of smelt via your graph and then watch for the levels of the bigger hooks. Flutter spoons, such as Diamond kings, Mauraders, Needlenoses, etc pinned behind your downrigger release should pick up fish. Also, a good bait choise is a flasher in front of a spin and glow rigged with two to three beads and a treble. Something in a holographic blue, silver, or even chartruese flasher behind a matching spin and glow.

All systems are different and how the fish will react, but these are some of the presentations that work well for me. If ya get a chance, vertical jig these fish too with heavy spoons tipped with smelt or even different sorts of heavier jigs. These also should pick up some lakers.

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Thanks for the additional info. Can anybody tell me what the habits of smelt are as we approach and hit turnover? Do they stay deep or come into the shallows like some other baitfish. Actually, I could use some info about the movements and tendencies of smelt throughout the year. Thanks!

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I used to night fish for Walleyes on Pokegama trolling Raps by The Island. I figure you could use down riggers for this. Might even work better. Get on the flats in about 20 feet during a full moon and give it a try. I caught a released a 27" when I was in highschool. Seemed like Blue jointed Raps worked the best. That was 15 years ago.

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