LAKE TROUT: PEEL IT OUT

Field and Stream - - GIANT -

FLY

Heavy Olive-and-White Flash­back Clouser

LINE

30-foot 350-grain sink tip

If you can hack it, one of the best shots at a laker on the fly is in the dead of win­ter when the fish are feed­ing close to shore. Even then, the depths are not ideal, but they’re man­age­able with the right line. That line, of course, would be a heavy­grain (300 to 400) full sink or long sink tip. This is the route I took to se­cure my first whip-stick laker.

Drift­ing with guide Frank Camp­bell over the Ni­a­gara Bar on Lake On­tario, I could see the fish hold­ing around humps on the sonar. Ev­ery time we dropped off the back of this one 25-foot rise, Camp­bell came tight on a white swim­bait. I, on the other hand, was strip­ping with numb fin­ger­tips, puz­zled as to why I couldn’t con­nect. Af­ter five passes down the money lane with­out a touch, I changed up the pre­sen­ta­tion. I made a long cast, then just started peel­ing out line as we drifted. I waited long enough to ac­tu­ally feel my fly mo­men­tar­ily hang on the bot­tom. Then I buried the rod tip in the wa­ter and started mak­ing slower strips. I only made about five be­fore my first laker nearly took the rod out of my hand.

Even though my fly was prob­a­bly get­ting to depth be­fore I al­tered my ap­proach, my faster strips plus the drift­ing boat meant that it likely wasn’t stay­ing there long enough. Al­though feed­ing line isn’t as sexy as cast­ing it, if you’re go­ing to make the ef­fort to tar­get a deep fish, some­times you have to do what­ever it takes to be sure your fly is stay­ing in its face.

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