Birdshot and backlashes - Trout fishing tips

by Bob Cary

We have now entered the serious time of the winter fishing season - trout. <BR><BR>Admittedly, the trout season has been open for two weeks in lakes totally within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but because of slush, frigidity, the National Football League and other impediments, this portion of the ice fishing season has been sadly neglected. No more. On Saturday, Jan. 15, trout fishing became legal in all the lakes and the Frost Bite Brigade is out initiating an invasion far and wide.<BR><BR>The major lake trout waters - Snowbank Lake and Burntside Lake - are the sites of numerous fish houses, portable and semipermanent. In addition, various groups and individuals are on Miners Lake, Tofte and various other frozen lakes containing brook and rainbow trout.<BR><BR>We have received a number of requests from would-be ice anglers for information on how to engage in such activity. <BR><BR>First, the tackle: Suppliers in the area - bait and tackle shops, all carry suitable rods, reels and lures. <BR><BR>Lake trout are usually sought with heavier equipment, larger lures and ciscoes. These are silvery, herring-like fish from six to eight inches long, available at bait shops. They come frozen, a half dozen to a package. We always rig ours up the night before we go fishing, equipping them with double hooks which have a drilled shank where a snap can be clipped on for use. Bait dealers will show how to do this. Lakers will also hit live sucker minnows and live chubs, similar to those used for walleyes.<BR><BR>Lake trout can be caught on large spoons and metal lures jigged down the hole, perhaps with a minnow impaled on the hook. There are special lures called “airplane jigs” effective for lake trout. <BR><BR>The best way to learn about them is to go with an experienced lake trout fisherman. Lakers may travel six feet under the ice or may be down 30 to 60 feet. Takes some searching.<BR><BR>Stream trout may be caught on very small metal lures like 1/8 oz. Dr. Spoons, Little Cleos and Kast Masters. A half minnow impaled on the hook is a helpful attraction. Also, a couple of wax worms smashed on the hook will often result in action. <BR><BR>Some trout fishermen do well using tiny ice fishing lures, like those used for crappies, with a wax worm or piece of minnow on the hook. <BR><BR>Stream trout will usually be found in from six feet to perhaps 18 feet of depth. Best bet is to go where there are other ice fishermen and watch what they do. Especially the ones who are pulling fish out from under the ice.<BR><BR>SKIING AND SNOWMOBILING<BR><BR>Both of these sports are in full swing with good snow, good trails and fairly solid lake ice.<BR><BR>Groomed and tracked ski trails are now available at Ely’s Hidden Valley, the Trezona Trail, Northwind Lodge, Fortune Bay golf course and the Tower Trail System. Skiers who want wilderness-type travel have the YMCA Camp trails at the North Arm of Burntside Lake.<BR><BR>Snowmobile groups are regularly passing through Ely or headquarter at one of the local motels or resorts open for winter guests. The Taconite Trail, Tomahawk Trail and connections to Lake Superior’s North Shore and the Arrowhead to International Falls are all in use.<BR><BR>Giants Ridge at Biwabik is in full operation for downhill skiers and snowboarders. On the North Shore, the downhill complex at Lutsen draws large numbers of skiers from all over the state and the Midwest.<BR><BR>It’s a great time of year for snow folk. The rest have all headed south or west and we won’t seem them until next spring. They are missing a great winter season.