by Ralph Scherder

Want to catch lake trout? Buy a depth finder. If there’s one tool that will help you consistently locate and catch lakers, this is it. Invest in a quality depth finder and your catch totals will go up.

That’s the secret to lake trout fishing — finding them. Throughout the course of a few hours they can move from relatively “shallow” depths of 35-40 feet out to 90 feet.  The determining factor is water temperature. Lake trout prefer to hang in thermal layers that are around 50 degrees F. Depending on the day and intensity of the sun, that temperature can change quickly and cause the fish to adjust accordingly.

I’ve caught lakers at 40 feet in the morning and, as the day warmed up and bright sun hit the water, almost 100 feet in mid-afternoon.  The good news, though, is that where you find one you’ll almost always find two. Although not known as a schooling fish, they do tend to hang out in the same area.

Remember, lake trout are a coldwater fish. In early spring, right after ice out, it’s possible to find them in 10 feet of water.  As temperatures increase throughout the season, though, the fish go deeper and the only way to track their movements is with a depth finder.

When purchasing equipment and electronics, I follow one rule of thumb. I always buy the best quality that I can afford. Exceptional equipment usually comes with a price tag, so do your homework and read reviews and product evaluations before deciding on a purchase that best suits your needs.  Here’s something else to consider as well — if you’re spending thousands of dollars on boats, motors, and fishing tackle, why skimp when it comes to outfitting your rig with a quality depth finder?

Many depth finders on the market provide a wealth of information, from water depth and temperature to type of structure and fish activity. All of this information is especially important when targeting lake trout.

Locating lake trout on the depth finder can be tricky. Often the best bet is to look for clouds of baitfish. You can also find them in areas where there seems to be some confusion as to water depth, such as the depth bouncing from 80 to 100 feet or more over a short distance. This type of bottom structure attracts baitfish which ultimately attract lake trout.

Most importantly, pay attention to water temperature. Good structure in the correct thermal layer equals potential lake trout hot spot, and the best way to consistently locate them is with a quality depth finder.


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