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One of my favourite species to catch during early season ice fishing is brook trout. Brook trout, like other members of the char family, are fall spawners and have the most striking colours this time of year. On this trip, my friend @PaddlePowerAngler and I head out to a little known backcountry trout lake to target some mature brookies.
The weather this ice season has been unseasonably warm. With daytime temps just above freezing and no snow on the ground we did not have to pack tents or heaters with us, which seriously cuts down on the weight we pack in!
When targeting trout I normally wouldn’t bother with a sonar, especially a ridiculously large one like my Lowrance Active Target, but since my Jet-Sled was basically empty I thought I better bring something along to entertain myself. We ended up fitting everything we needed in one trip, that’s sonar, auger, rod cases, buckets and lunches for two people. Unsurprisingly, the Active Target wasn’t much use. It did help us narrow down the steep break lines along the shore and allowed us to watch exactly where cruising fish were but it still didn’t make them bite.
Around here, December marks the decline of the best trout fishing of the season. Trout being a cold water species remain active all year but the peak time is definitely from first ice to Christmas. Beyond mid-December the shoreline weeds die off and trout move deep in search of food and oxygenated water.
This brook trout lake is a long skinny lake that runs east to west. On the north side, where there is plenty of sun, the weeds were still bright green and fishing was good. On the south side, behind the shade of the trees, the weeds had all died and were laying down on the bottom. With half the lake in decay, we noticed the majority of the trout had already begun to move to deeper water. Trout will still feed pretty reliably for the rest of the winter but with oxygen levels dropping in lakes that are not aerated the fishing can slow to a crawl. Aerated lakes have a bit better action and to find them in Alberta, all you have to do is visit the ACA website!
Even though the bite was tough we couldn’t ask for a better day on the lake. Both of us managed to smash our PB (personal best) brook trout record and had a great time doing it! For more tips on catching early season trout, check out my previous post here where I break down what I look for in shoreline structure!