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The Lure of Brook Trout

 

First ice is upon us and all I have is thoughts of going brook trout fishing. Just before freeze up I hit a little lake and found the brookies doing exactly what they are compelled to do at this time of year. They were shallow, aggressive and preparing for the spawn. Brookies spawn just before freeze up and into first ice so his is the time of year we can go out and catch a bunch. First ice is much like watching brook trout TV. The brookies are notoriously shallow which means I will almost always be able to look down the ice-fishing hole and see the fish I am catching. Or in some cases, not catching. More on that later.



Brook trout come with their challenges and one of the biggest challenges is being able to not, that's right, not catch the little ones. When the larger, mature brookies move shallow to spawn they bring with them a whole host of little ones, eager as punch to partake in the feast. So, while I may be able to look down the hole and see a two pounder just sitting there, I may not get the chance to catch it. That's because there's an armada of wee four, six and eight inchers zooming about like wildfire eating practically anything I throw down. This gives me little chance at catching the bigger fish. Believe me, these little guys can and do eat practically anything. My buddy Trevor was so amused that he pulled a chunk of pineapple from the pizza he was eating put it on his hook and caught a brook trout.

I have, however, found a couple tricks to defeat the little ones.
1) Use maggots or trout worms as they are more resilient and can stand up to the continuous abuse of little jaws crunching them.
2) Try not to set the hooks on the little ones. Instead, gently pull on the line after they've bit. Often they'll give up the bait, allowing it to continue it's downward drift towards the bottom. It may be picked up by yet another little one and if it does repeat the process. If lucky, the bait will make it to or near bottom long enough to get a chance at the bigger fish. They almost always bite on or near bottom.

To catch big brookies consistently I subscribe to two theories. First, when I see big fish down the hole I stay put and get out the bait. Maggots, eggs and small trout worms threaded on a tiny hook keep me in the game. However, I only use eggs when I'm not getting punished by the onslaught of little ones simply because eggs are easier to pick off. Most days, regardless of effort, I still get a lot of small fish to bite, but they're fun in their own way. I recycle them while waiting for my opportunity for a big one to pounce.

If I don't see fish, I move. I move quickly along the shorelines. That is, I fish the two to five foot depth generally no more than 20 or 30 feet from shore. I give a hole 10 minutes then move on. I only stop when I see or catch bigger fish. When moving in this search pattern bait slows me down. I want something I can pull out of an ice fishing hole, walk to the next one and drop it back down and be right back fishing. For this reason I use a small yellow marabou jig. If the fish are aggressive, which they usually are at the drop of the first hook, I'll get hit immediately. But, if I run a stretch of shoreline that I'm convinced has fish, but the little yellow jig has drawn a blank, I'll switch up and tip the jig with a piece of trout worm. This adds some flavor to the presentation but needs to be fished slower with a little more care.

Regardless of whether I fish the jig 'as is' or tipped with bait I employ the 'run and gun' approach until I find fish or decide it's time to light a fire and roast a hot dog.

When I do hit brookie pay dirt, it's fishing heaven. There are few other occasions where I can say that I looked down an ice fishing hole and seen six, seven, and on occasion even ten fish swimming around at the same time. With brook trout, it happens often and it's a lot of fun. Bring a friend and they'll have a real thrill watching all the fish swim by. Keep a few and they'll be delicious on the frying pan. Bring the camera and snap a few photos when you do catch that first real big one. They're as pretty as they come.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Fly Selection for Beginners

(2) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(3) New Waters

(4) Big Bad Burbot

(5) Looking Back

(6) Out of Africa

(7) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(8) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(9) The Browns of Autumn

(10) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(11) Walleye Town

(12) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(13) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(14) Going With The Flow

(15) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(16) Swinging The Fences

(17) A View From The Aerie

(18) Dixieland Delight

(19) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(20) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(21) Montana's Cool Missouri

(22) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(23) Toothy Critters

(24) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(25) Top Ten Flies

(26) Northern Exposure

(27) Home Water Lessons

(28) Chicken Of The Sea

(29) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(30) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(31) Keep It Up!

(32) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(33) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(34) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(35) Hawg Holes

(36) Saltwater Salmon

(37) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(38) Down a Lazy River –
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(39) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(40) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(41) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(42) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(43) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(44) Fall Walleye

(45) Wet Flies

(46) Versatility the Key to Success

(47) Grayling of the Boreal

(48) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(49) Size Matters

(50) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(51) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(52) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(53) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(54) The Point Of It All

(55) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(56) Fall Fly Fishing

(57) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(58) Big River, Big Fish

(59) Bottom Bonanza

(60) Fishing Small Flies

(61) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(62) Four Seasons of the Bow

(63) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(64) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(65) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(66) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
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(67) Edge Walleye

(68) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(69) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(70) Four Corners – Four Waters

(71) Chasing Pothole Trout

(72) Springtime Stoneflies

(73) The Torrents of Spring

(74) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(75) Bust Them With Bait

(76) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(77) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(78) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(79) Terrestrials

(80) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(81) Rocky Mountain High

(82) Reading the clues

(83) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(84) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(85) Fly Fishing 101

(86) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(87) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(88) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(89) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(90) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(91) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(92) Trust Your Electronics

(93) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(94) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(95) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(96) Walleye can be Humbling

(97) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(98) Winter Flyfishing

(99) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(100) Hot Fall Pike Action

(101) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(102) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(103) Frequently Asked Questions

(104) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(105) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(106) Deep Water Perch

(107) Post Spawn Brookies

(108) A Fisher's Life

(109) The River's Last Stand

(110) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(111) Coho on the Coast

(112) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(113) Summer in the Mountains

(114) Peak Walleye Season

(115) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(116) Last Ice Rainbows

(117) The Burbot Event

(118) Tackle Matching

(119) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(120) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(121) The Lure of Brook Trout

(122) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(123) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(124) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(125) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(126) The Vesatile Plug

(127) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(128) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(129) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(130) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(131) Daily Fish Migrations

(132) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(133) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(134) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(135) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(136) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(137) The Fun in Ultra Light

(138) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(139) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

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(142) Jigging through the Ice

(143) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

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(145) The Season of Ice Begins

(146) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

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(153) "Northern Exposure"

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(156) Man Overboard