Lake Trout (Perca flavescens)

See also: Lake Whitefish, Yellow Perch, Northern Pike and Burbot.

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.

In 2010, Lake Trout stocking was reduced from approximately 100,000 to 50,000 yearlings due to increased observations of natural reproduction taking place. It was thought that the reduction in stocked fish would allow the natural Lake Trout population to increase and thrive without having to out compete stocked fish. Unfortunately, it was found in the most recent monitoring studies that natural reproduction and the numbers of wild Lake Trout was on the decline. This led the MNR to increase the stocking numbers from 50,000 Lake Trout per year, back up to 100,000 fish.

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 waters 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.

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:

Live Bait:

Emerald shiners (Medium - Large), Bait fish species including; golden shiners, frozen smelts, frozen herring

Artificial bait:

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 bait or small tube jig. Jigging Rapala, Tube jigs (2 to 3"), Airplane jigs, 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 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. Anywhere in the main lake basin in the deeper waters can hold Lake Trout.

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.

You can find Lake Trout roaming just about at every depth. Generally, most anglers target Lake Trout from as shallow as 20 feet to as deep as 120 feet.

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