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Giant Lake Trout on the Fly?

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May 11, 2012

Giant Lake Trout on the Fly?

By Tim Romano

This is a photo of my friend Russ Miller torturing himself with a 9-weight rod and full sinking line on Lake Granby last night. He was casting a double bunny fly that looked like a dead squirrel, so we decided to call it Bernie's Bunny.

After shooting an episode of Hook Shots earlier this spring for giant lake trout on Lake Granby with uber guide Bernie Keefe, he asked if I'd like to come back up and try for the huge fish on a fly. It took me all of about one second to make my decision.

I've actually toyed with the idea for a number of years but was never really sure how to go about it. Landing 30- to 40-inch lake trout on a fly is a feat very few fly anglers have done, especially here in the lower 48. The window of opportunity is very small. You cast a lot for precious few shots at fish, and simply hooking one of these huge fish never ensures you'll land it. Fly anglers might get a couple weeks in the spring and a couple in the fall when these large aggressive fish come up into the shallows to feed and spawn. After that, you better be willing to put down the long stick and start vertical jigging - deep.

We've now gone out twice with Bernie for a couple hours in the evenings to try and land what might arguably be the biggest "trout" most folks have ever landed on a fly rod. We almost accomplished our feat last night with two fish hooked up and five other absolutely huge submarines followed our fly all the way back to the boat. In the end, we simply couldn't close the deal, but we had excellent shots and are going to give it one more try next week before the fish decide to return to the depths.

It was some of the most intense fishing I've done in a long time. My heart in my throat every time a fish would follow. Russ and I chatted on the way home, racking our brains trying to come up with a freshwater fly fishing scenario where one could land a 30- to 40- inch fish that might weigh 25 pounds or more on a fly here in the lower 48. The only thing we could think of were musky and pike, which also are fickle beasts and fish of a thousand casts. What am I missing?  

For more specifics on gear and tactics for giant lakers see Russ' post over at Front Range Anglers.

 

Comments (11)

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from dleurquin wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

A 40" laker on a fly, spinning gear or through the ice would be an awesome catch of a life time.

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from vince wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I'm always curious about this — why do some anglers cast with their rod tilted like this (so the reel goes to the side)? Aren't blanks directional in some sense, making this less efficient?

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from scooterg10 wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Vince- Yes, you should keep the reel pointed at the target while casting. Doing otherwise will generally cause tracking issues with the cast. However, it is not uncommon to turn the rod sideways after the forward stop when distance casting to reduce line slap against the rod. The line shooting through the guides like this will contact the rod much less which helps keep up line speed and get better shoots.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

How big do salmon get? Once caught a hog in Michigan some guy told me weighed 22 lbs. Not sure how big they get up there.

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from badsmerf wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

A laker on a fly rod would be a blast.

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from Rhythm Rider wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I like this idea. Not certain about lakers at Granby, but they are late fall spawners up in Flaming Gorge. I hear about this time of year they like coming shallow for spawning bows. Seems the rest of the year they stay deep as they can, and are tough on jigs baited with sucker or trolling enormous flatfish and heavy metal.

Can't wait to hear the results as I'm gonna target walleye and tiger muskie a few times this year on the fly.

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from jamesti wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

i've fished granby several times with my fly rod but never even thought of lake trout. wish i had.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I believe that this is possible any time of the year, just a matter of finding the fish at the right time(early in the day) when they are feeding shallow.

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from tkbone wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Stripers either spawning or seeking a summer thermal refuge in tailwaters present another possible scenario for a 25lb freshwater fish on the fly in the lower 48. Have caught some in the low teens OTF in my location and aware of 25+lbers being caught on conventional tackle. The potential exists in a lot of southern tailwaters fed by cold water discharges.

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from steelmaster wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

@buckhunter, salmon can get larger than 22lbs up here, thirty and even forty pound range. But don't get me wrong, I would give you a high five for a fish like that. As for lakers on the fly...I know what I will be doing this fall (before deer season of course).

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from Ryan Patrick Daly wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Carp.... the are ugly but they are big and a good fight on a fly rod with light tippet... easily spooked, and the require very accurate and gentle casts.. been fishing for them during the week in the city when i dont have time to hit the rivers.. everything about my fishing has improved sense starting to fish for them

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from scooterg10 wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Vince- Yes, you should keep the reel pointed at the target while casting. Doing otherwise will generally cause tracking issues with the cast. However, it is not uncommon to turn the rod sideways after the forward stop when distance casting to reduce line slap against the rod. The line shooting through the guides like this will contact the rod much less which helps keep up line speed and get better shoots.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

A 40" laker on a fly, spinning gear or through the ice would be an awesome catch of a life time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vince wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I'm always curious about this — why do some anglers cast with their rod tilted like this (so the reel goes to the side)? Aren't blanks directional in some sense, making this less efficient?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

How big do salmon get? Once caught a hog in Michigan some guy told me weighed 22 lbs. Not sure how big they get up there.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

A laker on a fly rod would be a blast.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I like this idea. Not certain about lakers at Granby, but they are late fall spawners up in Flaming Gorge. I hear about this time of year they like coming shallow for spawning bows. Seems the rest of the year they stay deep as they can, and are tough on jigs baited with sucker or trolling enormous flatfish and heavy metal.

Can't wait to hear the results as I'm gonna target walleye and tiger muskie a few times this year on the fly.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

i've fished granby several times with my fly rod but never even thought of lake trout. wish i had.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

I believe that this is possible any time of the year, just a matter of finding the fish at the right time(early in the day) when they are feeding shallow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Stripers either spawning or seeking a summer thermal refuge in tailwaters present another possible scenario for a 25lb freshwater fish on the fly in the lower 48. Have caught some in the low teens OTF in my location and aware of 25+lbers being caught on conventional tackle. The potential exists in a lot of southern tailwaters fed by cold water discharges.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from steelmaster wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

@buckhunter, salmon can get larger than 22lbs up here, thirty and even forty pound range. But don't get me wrong, I would give you a high five for a fish like that. As for lakers on the fly...I know what I will be doing this fall (before deer season of course).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan Patrick Daly wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Carp.... the are ugly but they are big and a good fight on a fly rod with light tippet... easily spooked, and the require very accurate and gentle casts.. been fishing for them during the week in the city when i dont have time to hit the rivers.. everything about my fishing has improved sense starting to fish for them

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment