Actually a member of the char family, the lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is a denizen of deep, clear, cold lakes of the northern states and in some Great Lakes, and has been introduced into some waters of the western states. Typically bottom-oriented fish, lake trout can be caught in 20 feet of water early in the year but later move to the depthsup to 100 feet, with some subspecies moving as deep as 500 feet.
Because of the short growing season in their region, lake trout don't get big very quickly. However, they do reach impressive sizes. Average size depends largely on the locale; from 2 to 5 pounds or so is typical. Commercial fishermen have caught lake trout weighing more than 100 pounds.
Lake trout can be caught by flyfishermen and light-spin-tackle anglers in spring when the fish move to shallow water. Best offerings to use at this time are minnow simulations: streamers, spinners, spoons, and diving crankbaits. But the majority of lake-trout fishing is done at depth by trolling with large spoons and live bait, such as smelt. In the past, heavy, unwieldy conventional rods and reels outfitted with wire line were necessary to reach the depths required. However, the advent of downriggers has allowed comparatively light-tackle anglers to fish for lake trout successfully.
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