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Trip Report – Dec 1, 2019 – Dolberg Lake

rainbow trout on bump board

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Sunday morning was a brisk -20°C, but despite the cold temperatures my pal Cody and I decided we needed a trout session to get us through the work week. We traveled north to Dolberg lake and parked at the launch around 9 am. Once our gear was unloaded we surveyed the lake to decide where to start. Dolberg is a small body of water and since it was so cold I figured we didn’t need to go too far. We set the tent up roughly 50 yards from the launch, over 16 feet of water, and turned the heat on. I guess I’m not conditioned to the winter yet because the heater couldn’t wait.

Luckily, the trout came to us and the action was steady on our jigging rods. The water clarity allowed us to just make out the bottom and our sonars were marking fish throughout the entire water column. It was really neat to see trout at 6 feet one minute then 14 feet the next. As I was staring down the hole, straining to see any movement, a decent sized trout swam right under my nose and gave me a good scare. They were really everywhere in the water column.

otter pro lodge hub
Staying warm despite the -20°C temperature.

I had set up a JawJacker outside with the lure two feet off bottom, as I normally would for trout. They were not interested in this still presentation at all. Since Dolberg has a bait ban they really have no reason to give my obviously fake lures a taste. Next time I will try a more natural presentation, or perhaps one of those jigging JawJackers.

The bites began tapering off around 11 am and became very slow in the afternoon. Once it warmed up outside we began moving around to find some action. It was sporadic at best. I worked a field of about a dozen holes, with depths ranging from 4-14 feet. I’d drop my lure down and jig for a few minutes, if nothing turned up I would move to the next. There might have been three caught all afternoon. We toughed it out until sunset thinking the action would pick up at prime time but unfortunately it didn’t. 

The green tungsten jig I talked about in my last Trip Report is proving to be a real winner. I use two trout rods and kept the green tungsten on one and would switch to different baits on the other. I found the trout were also interested in an Acme Hyper Glide minnow but wouldn’t bite it. They would dart up to it, maybe give the lure a bump or circle it then swim away. The flying action is a good attractor but the trout wouldn’t give it a taste. Out of the ten or so trout we did catch I throat sampled two. Both were feeding heavily on zooplankton and nothing else, a common theme I’m learning.

daphnia, water fleas
Daphnia, also commonly called water fleas.

I’m really loving my new insulated Otter hub. The insulation makes a huge difference versus my old Frabill non-insulated tent. I’m surprised just how comfortable it was with the Big Buddy heater on low. As the sun came around the snow started to melt inside the tent, making the ice a bit of a skating rink. That was never a problem in the Frabill. If it was too warm, condensation would rain down on top of me forcing me to turn the heat back down! I will have to be careful I don’t freeze the skirt in on those cold days and risk ripping the fabric. The Otter is obviously a popular tent too. My partner on this trip owns one and a little later another group arrived and set up theirs just down the shoreline. 

Tent fishing is great, but it’s not the way I like to catch trout. Given the limited daylight in winter there are really just two options. The first is finding a piece of structure or transition and setting up camp. The second, which I prefer, is to stay mobile and go where the fish are. I’ve heard from a few sources that big trout can be territorial, so the best way to catch that lunker is to go out and look for it.

rainbow trout caught while ice fishing
A 16″ rainbow trout from Dolberg Lake

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