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Trust Your Electronics


Can you blame me for planning a family holiday to Cold Lake to fish for lakers!! Anyone would do the same if their family would let them. So Linda, my two daughters and a slew of Linda’s cousins headed for Cold Lake. Bad idea. First off the weather was brutal that first week in July. The water was cold so there was no way the family would hang out at the beach so I could go fishing. I did sneak in a few hours and started piecing things together for my next trip that I was conniving. We decided to head the caravan back to the city to spend some family time in the comfort of home and. . . so I could return on the weekend with a cousin of mine and do some serious fishing. When I did get to fish on my first trip, I spotted some baitfish over a small hump but also a few larger echoes that would indicate lakers. I had caught fish there in the past and flogged the water for several hours at 22 to 35 feet where the odd fish echo showed up on my sonar (fish finder). That was also where the local chat indicated the fish were being caught.

The next weekend saw me back out there on the Friday evening with my cousin Justin, flogging the same spot. . . nothing. There was very little action on the sonar, it was time to move. We decided to cruise across the lake to a big drop near a point off the main shore where I had caught fish in the past. I cruised at about 35 mph so I could keep track of the bottom. The lake is certainly deep. The bottom came gradually up to 250 feet, then 220, then abruptly rose to 60 and immediately back down, less steeply to 220. I had found a sunken island or hump. Bait was everywhere, showing up as large clouds on my sonar at around 100 to 170 feet. Some of the bait was up on top of the hump in less than 60 feet. Numerous large echoes appeared at the 150 foot level with the odd one showing up between 35 and 50 feet. Which ones were the lakers? Were the deep ones whitefish?

We did catch one with what was left of the evening at about 50 feet before darkness fell.

We were satisfied that the next day we would have a great starting point providing that fish wasn’t just a fluke. We were fishing by 7 AM the next morning. We hadn’t even had the second rod down yet when the down rigger rod started bucking at the strain of a fish - 50 feet; right where we were marking the majority of the shallow fish. That was quick!! I set the second rod a 37 feet as we were seeing several echoes of fish there as well. The rest of the day was incredible. One of my best days on the water and definitely my best day of lake trout fishing ever. By 10:45 AM we had caught and released 17 lakers with several in the 9.5 pound to 13 pound range. By 7:00 PM we had tallied 44 what a day! The best one we landed was somewhere in the low 20 pound range. It was a large mouthed, very long fish that Justin caught.

After a couple quick photos of that fish we gently released it back into the cold water. We tracked it on the sonar as it went down to 150 feet and then settled in with the rest of the fish at that depth, that was cool. We did catch a couple of fish at 100 feet and another few at 150 proving that some of what we were seeing at those levels were also lakers. We were diligent watching my Lowrance LCX-104 to learn more by interpreting what we saw as the fish were being caught. The fishing was so good I called my wife to get domestic clearance to be back home Sunday late afternoon rather than late Saturday night as planned. I had to promise that I would barbecue a small lake trout for the family when I got home; a small price to pay for another half day of fishing. Justin and I looked at each other and said "We can’t leave this!" Sunday proved to be just as great a day with far more interesting tales from the sonar.

The beer and pizza went down very well in the hotel room that night as we watched one of the stages of the Tour de France. I know it wasn’t midnight when two exhausted anglers were fast sleep without catching the last part of the stage. By seven the next morning we were back at our spot and again didn’t get the second rod down before we had a fish. After a few fish into the morning and on my turn at the rod, the down rigger release popped and the reel screamed. "Big fish!" That one hit the anchovy at 50 feet. Justin had the Scotty electric downriggers up and out of the way in no time. After a few minutes of pumping below the boat the fish sounded straight down to 150 and sat there. We could see this on the sonar proving again that what we saw ‘down there’ were lakers. Several minutes later we had a fish in the high teens in the boat, photographed and released.

On several occasions that day we would see fish at the 35 to 50 foot mark, hit the throttle and turn the boat hard to change the speed of the outside lure. This often resulted in a strike and one of the surges produced a 20 pounder. Lakers are notorious for following a lure and not hitting. I had a fish follow the cannon ball’s chartreuse release up to the boat and follow it for several yards before descending back into the dark, deep water. On several occasions we would see them on the sonar, following the hook up from deep water to check out our lures at 35 to 50 feet, and then head back down again. You have to understand what your fish finder is telling you to interpret this. Check out this month’s fishing tip for details on how to do that.

Great trip!! Can’t wait to do it again.

Previous Fishing Articles
(1) Your Next Fly Rod
(2) It’s OK to Be Little Bitty
(3) Exploring Tundra Waters
(4) The Jewel at First Ice
(5) Fly Fishing Bucket List
(6) Guided or DIY?
(7) Pond Power
(8) Caddisflies
(9) In the Good Old Summertime
(10) A Southern Escape
(11) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(12) Sunny Day Rainbows
(13) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(14) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(15) Catfishing Revisited
(16) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(17) Falling for Cutthroat
(18) New Water and Old Friends
(19) My McLeod
(20) Temperature and Trout
(21) On the Road Again
(22) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(23) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(24) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(25) Rollin’ on the River
(26) Windy Day Pike
(27) Cures for Cabin Fever
(28) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(29) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(30) A day on our foothill streams
(31) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(32) Fly Leaders
(33) In the Zone
(34) Learners Permit
(35) Flies of Summer
(36) Selecting the Right Boat
(37) The Italian Job
(38) Making a difference
(39) Pass the Salt
(40) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(41) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(42) Fall brings the big walleye out
(43) Hoppertunity Time
(44) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(45) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(46) Early Season Fly Fishing
(47) Walleye Logic
(48) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(49) Grammy’s Fish
(50) Top 10 Trout Lures
(51) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(52) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(53) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(54) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(55) There’s No Place Like Home
(56) A Golden Opportunity
(57) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(58) Un-matching the Hatch
(59) Alberta Super Bugs
(60) Glass is Back
(61) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(62) Speed Kills
(63) Entering the Twilight Zone
(64) Old Man River
(65) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
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(69) Zoo Trout
(70) Fly Selection for Beginners
(71) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(72) New Waters
(73) Big Bad Burbot
(74) Looking Back
(75) Out of Africa
(76) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(77) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(78) The Browns of Autumn
(79) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(80) Walleye Town
(81) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(82) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(83) Going With The Flow
(84) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(85) Swinging The Fences
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(87) Dixieland Delight
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(89) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(90) Montana's Cool Missouri
(91) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(92) Toothy Critters
(93) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(94) Top Ten Flies
(95) Northern Exposure
(96) Home Water Lessons
(97) Chicken Of The Sea
(98) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(99) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(100) Keep It Up!
(101) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(102) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
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(104) Hawg Holes
(105) Saltwater Salmon
(106) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(107) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(108) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(111) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(112) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(113) Fall Walleye
(114) Wet Flies
(115) Versatility the Key to Success
(116) Grayling of the Boreal
(117) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(118) Size Matters
(119) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(120) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(121) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(122) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(123) The Point Of It All
(124) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(125) Fall Fly Fishing
(126) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
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(142) The Torrents of Spring
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(145) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(146) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(147) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(148) Terrestrials
(149) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(150) Rocky Mountain High
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(152) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(153) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
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(155) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(156) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(157) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(158) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(159) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
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(161) Trust Your Electronics
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(163) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(164) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(165) Walleye can be Humbling
(166) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(167) Winter Flyfishing
(168) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
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(170) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
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(172) Frequently Asked Questions
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(175) Deep Water Perch
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(179) The Big Ones Come out at Night
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(182) Summer in the Mountains
(183) Peak Walleye Season
(184) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
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(189) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
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(191) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
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(202) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(203) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(204) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
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(207) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(208) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
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(212) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
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(215) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
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(221) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
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