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everythingthatswims

Trolling for Trout Questions

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I am going to head to South Holston Lake for two days of fishing pretty soon, and while most of my time will be spent targeting bass, I plan to give the trout some attention. The lake has brown, rainbow, and lake trout stocked in it and from what I have seen it appears as though there is a pretty high population in the lake. In the spring we saw lots of trout just cruising on the surface, chasing bait, and jumping (also had a lake trout chase my a-rig to the boat). When I was there this summer I still saw some cruising on the surface, as well as seeing two smallmouth trying to eat one.

 

If I can mark some fish around schools of bait (which I did last time), I will probably net some alewives and fish them on downlines like I do for stripers.

 

There isn't a lot of info on trout fishing the lake because all of the attention is on its tailwater and fly fishing. At this point my plan is to run small spoons behind deep diving crankbaits, because I really have no idea what depths my baits would be running at if I used lead. Last time I was there we caught a brown trout on a deep crank so there's a good chance we can catch some on those too.

 

Anybody know much about South Holston trout or trout in East Tennessee reservoirs in general?

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Borwns are more tolerable of warmer water, so you may have a decent shot at them, with what you describe. 

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I would think the lakers would be deep. I agree with JF in that you more than likely will get more brownies, but I wouldn't rule out an occasional rainbow. I've caught larger rainbow in the middle of the hot water season on lipless cranks.

 

Good luck!

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Good luck when you go. I absolutely LOVE trolling for trout in my kayak. Kastmasters and this Mepps Comet Mino is my new fav

 

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I would try the vertical approach with a little flashy kastmaster, unless the water is too tannic. 

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Two great tactics 1 dropshot some 3 and 4 inch keitech shad impacts.  I do well on ayu.  

The second bait that works amazing is the duo small shads.  The clear and shiny gills are the two best.

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If you are after lakers, then find the deepest water and try vertical jigging with blade baits. An on/off bottom jigging will get you bit. Other species are probably more likely to be caught trolling spoons, similar to the Thomson Buoyant, in shallower areas. I've caught a lot of rainbows with a jig dressed with 2" crappie plastics.

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I've caught some nice lakers in late August trolling deep diving cranks 30 feet down, they seem to bite best when the sun is bright.

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19 hours ago, Crestliner2008 said:

If you are after lakers, then find the deepest water and try vertical jigging with blade baits. An on/off bottom jigging will get you bit. Other species are probably more likely to be caught trolling spoons, similar to the Thomson Buoyant, in shallower areas. I've caught a lot of rainbows with a jig dressed with 2" crappie plastics.

The reservoir is well over 100' deep in several places and is mostly deeper than 60'. Would they be deeper than 100'?

15 hours ago, Doelman said:

I've caught some nice lakers in late August trolling deep diving cranks 30 feet down, they seem to bite best when the sun is bright.

Where?

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1 hour ago, everythingthatswims said:

The reservoir is well over 100' deep in several places and is mostly deeper than 60'. Would they be deeper than 100'?

Where?

Minnesota.  The lakes I fish up there are often up to 130' feet deep, I don't think you'll find anything below the thermocline.

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5 hours ago, everythingthatswims said:

The reservoir is well over 100' deep in several places and is mostly deeper than 60'. Would they be deeper than 100'?

Where?

 

More than likely, you'll do better looking for them in the 90' range. We've taken them in over 100', but the majority will be slightly shallower. The blade is still the best presentation as it gives off flash plus vibration. The "where" part of your question is just a matter of using your electronics to see fish populations at which depth. You can pretty much figure that arches over the 90'+ depths are lakers.

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4 hours ago, Doelman said:

I don't think you'll find anything below the thermocline.

 

Not true at all.  People think the water is oxygen poor below the thermocline.  That isn't always true.  Cold water actually can hold more oxygen.  Warm water fish avoid going below it, into the hypolimnion not because there's no oxygen, but because it's cold.  Salmonoids are a cold water species, with their own preferences.  Lakers like it in the mid 40s.  Browns and rainbows just below 60.  If the lake supports trout, then they will be deep, and probably below the thermocline.

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7 minutes ago, J Francho said:

 

Not true at all.  People think the water is oxygen poor below the thermocline.  That isn't always true.  Cold water actually can hold more oxygen.  Warm water fish avoid going below it, into the hypolimnion not because there's no oxygen, but because it's cold.  Salmonoids are a cold water species, with their own preferences.  Lakers like it in the mid 40s.  Browns and rainbows just below 60.  If the lake supports trout, then they will be deep, and probably below the thermocline.

I'm definitely not a seasoned lake trout fisherman, but from everything I've been taught about lake trout fishing in the summer by guides from Minnesota up to Caniapiscau Quebec, they may be below the thermocline but it isn't going to be much.  The bait they're eating isn't going to go past it so the feeding lakers will be relatively close to it.  I've personally tried jigging lakers marked deeper than that and haven't had a single bite, they just don't feed down there in the summer.  If you have a secret to get lakers well below the thermocline to bite, please let me know.  I'll be fishing for them this September in Ontario and would love to have a few new tricks for them.  

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Lakers sit on the bottom.  Guides call them "bread and butter" fish, because if fishing for the better eating species is off, they'll drop the rigs to the bottom, and usually get bit.  Rainbows and browns are just below, in, or just above the thermocline.  My uncle was a charter boat captain, so I'm going by what I learned from him, either as a mate or him taking me fishing.  That's why I first said he had a good chance of sticking a brown.  You can sometimes find them only 30' deep, in hundreds of feet of water.

 

I just see SO MANY references to the thermocline being a dead zone.  Well it isn't.  It's just a thin layer between the hypolimnion and hyperlimnion.  It's just that we're so used to fishing for warm water bass and panfish, we ignore that entire portion of the lakes.

 

As far as "secret" spots for trout?  September, you'll start to see browns and steelhead come in shallow, as the water cools. There might be some kings and cohos left in the creeks.  By October, the browns can be caught from shore, getting ready to make the spawning run.  Steelhead follow them, to raid their redds.  There aren't really secret spots, since the fish are pelagic.  But there are a ton of reasonable charter captains that will put you on fish, if you can get a group together. They're out every day, on the schools.  It's been years since I've caught, let alone fished for lakers.

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Not spots, secret tips for getting those fish to bite.  I've thrown all kinds of stuff at them, jigging spoons, jigging raps, all kinds of plastics, jigs, I've never gotten those deep ones to bite a single thing.  I do the same thing to fish holding up around the thermocline and get bit.  I troll around the same depth and get bit.  I don't even mess with those deep ones anymore.

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I can't remember the colors, but all we ever used were trolling spoons.  Sometimes with dodger or a flasher, sometimes not.

 

The last time I caught a laker was on Canadice lake.  I use a one ounce slip sinker on a universal rig, and a salted shad.  Before that, was on a little minnow, through the ice on a tip-up.

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JFrancho gave a great explanation of trout fishing in lakes.  For lakers in the summer, if we were desperate to catch something on the big lake O, we just dropped the downrigger ball down to the bottom and bingo - we caught all the lakers we wanted.  Never really cared to do this, as there was generally not much of a fight compared to most other trout and salmon you could catch.  Also, we didn't want to keep these slimy things, but at the same time we didn't want to see them perish because they did not fare well going back in the water sometimes after coming up quickly from close to 100 feet down or more.  I have not intentionally tried for lakers for many years either.

 

The last one I caught was also on Canadice Lake.  I was going across the lake in the early morning in my kayak and was trolling a crankbait.  There were some guys in motor boats who were actually fishing for lake trout, dragging weighted lines who watched me and couldn't believe it. 

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If it were me there, I'd drag some glides or hudds in rainbow patterns off humps and points around the thermocline.  Fishing truly deep for lakers in the summer is slightly better than slow cat fishing, and they don't do well generally after the trip through the water column without a lot of TLC. There're some brute smallie, Largies, Browns and rainbows in there, and they'll eat the small rainbows like popcorn. You should also have some shots at a Muskie in that lake...not that you need it.

Sorry - if you just want to catch some trout - a little Cleo, castmaster, or Roostertail in 1/4 or 1/8 oz size in white or yellow has never ever failed me.  Add shot to get it deeper or run it for a bottom bouncing rig.

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16 hours ago, VolFan said:

If it were me there, I'd drag some glides or hudds in rainbow patterns off humps and points around the thermocline.  Fishing truly deep for lakers in the summer is slightly better than slow cat fishing, and they don't do well generally after the trip through the water column without a lot of TLC. There're some brute smallie, Largies, Browns and rainbows in there, and they'll eat the small rainbows like popcorn. You should also have some shots at a Muskie in that lake...not that you need it.

Sorry - if you just want to catch some trout - a little Cleo, castmaster, or Roostertail in 1/4 or 1/8 oz size in white or yellow has never ever failed me.  Add shot to get it deeper or run it for a bottom bouncing rig.

I can assure you that several large trout imitations will be in the boat with us.

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:D I know you know what you're doing!

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Sorry but I really doubt you will catch anything above 50 foot if the lake has deeper water available. If it's late July and the water is 75 degrees, without lead core line I wouldn't bother. My 2 cents. 

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I went out and looked at some of our local water...

 

DSCF1122.thumb.jpg.f93bb77d9787ef1cb69f9b761fec1721.jpg

 

...and I can't figure out how to get a boat on it to troll. ;)

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Looks like in Watauga they were catching lakers around 30 ft this past week dragging spoons behind down riggers.  I doubt you can use a down rigger from your yak, but 30 feet isn't THAT hard to get down to if you can find some fish.

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