There was little evidence in the past several decades of natural recruitment of Lake Trout in Lake Simcoe mainly in part by stresses from phosphorous loading leading to low dissolved oxygen levels in the deep waters of the lake. Lake Trout were first stocked in Lake Simcoe in 1966. In 2001, natural reproduction was documented, something that hasn’t been seen in the previous 20 years. Given the known impacts of stocking on wild lake trout, the MNR has reduced the number of lake trout stocked annually to help further promote natural reproduction in Lake Simcoe.
Starting in 2010, the MNR has established a new stocking target of 50,000 yearling lake trout (which was previously 100,000) to be implemented for a period of 5 years. This will help to facilitate natural reproduction in Lake Simcoe. All stocked lake trout are fin clipped, keep your eyes on the fins, naturally reproducing lake trout with all fins intact are best released as these fish will become the brood stock for future populations.
Biology: A coldwater fish species that relies on oxygen-rich environments for survival. They spawn in the fall, mainly in October - November and will move into rocky shallow areas in preparation to spawn. They will usually spawn over large boulder or rocky bottoms at depths of less than 40 feet and sometimes as shallow as 1 foot of water. After spawning, lake trout will disperse throughout the lake in the winter and can roam for 100's of kilometers. As surface waters warm in the advance of spring, lake trout retire to cooler waters, eventually retreating to the deeper, oxygen rich waters of the hypolimnion, below the thermocline during the summer months.
Ontario Angling Record: The largest lake trout was caught in Lake Superior on May 25, 1952. It was 63.12lbs and was 51.5" long with a girth of 32.8"!
Lake Simcoe Size Range: Average from 4-7 lbs, however, reports of larger trout in the 12-15lbs category are caught every year. Fish above 15lbs do roam the water's of Lake Simcoe.
Lake Simcoe Diet: Lake Trout feed on a wide variety of organisms, their diet includes emerald shiners, rainbow smelts, lake herring, lake whitefish, yellow perch, smelt, sculpins, sticklebacks and plankton. They are also known to feed on crustaceans (mysis shrimp) and aquatic and terrestrial insects.
An 8" lake herring regurgitated by a Simcoe lake trout
Recommended Equipment: Bait-casting or spinning rods ranging from medium to heavy action and between 24 to 50" long. Both mono-filament and non-stretch super lines can be used. 10 to 15lb fluorocarbon, mono-filament on a spinning reel or on a bait-casting set-up works well. The thin diameter of non-stretch lines will allow you to use heavier line, 20-30lb braid or super line can be used. Many lake trout baits spin a lot and can twist your line so a small barrel swivel 18" up the line should be used. From the swivel, 6-12lb fluorocarbon can be used as a leader line.
Recommended Baits: As with Lake Whitefish, a number of baits can be used to catch Lake Trout. Some of the more popular choices include:
- Bait fish species including; golden shiners, frozen smelts, frozen herring
- Plastic minnow swimbaits (3 to 6")
- Lipless crankbaits
- Spoons like the Williams Whitefish
- Round Goby imitators like the Meegz and bad boyz tipped with live bair or small tube jig.
- Jigging Rapala
- Tube jigs (2 to 3")
- Airplane jig
- Bucktail jig
- Various hand tied streamers and flies
Depth Range: When the ice fishing season first opens up, lake trout can be found in close proximity to their spawning locations (shallow water with a rock, cobble bottom). Key on shallow water structure including points, humps and shoals. As winter progresses, lake trout move to deeper water, anywhere from 80 - 120 feet of water. However, lake trout will also be found suspending anywhere throughout the water column (even right under the ice!) so don't be afraid to fish the entire water column. An effective strategy is to start fishing off the bottom and reel up 10 feet every ten minutes, until your bait hits the top of the ice. Continue to do this until you find an aggressive trout willing to take your bait. In some cases, suspended fish are much more aggressive and willing to take your lure than trout hugging on the lake bottom.
Current 2019 Lake Simcoe Regulations:
Season is open from Jan. 1 to Mar. 15 and from the 2nd Saturday in May to September 30.
Sport License daily limit is 2 lake trout.
Conservation License daily limit is 1 lake trout.
Recommended Locations: Lake trout waters include the north and south sides of Kempenfelt Bay including the northeast side into Oro. Big Bay point is another popular spot as the depths drop off fairly quickly off the northern portion of the point. The deeper waters to the North of Fox Island, off Jacksons Point and off Innisfil all provide good starting points to hook into a Simcoe laker.