Learn this simple formula for landing lakers on and around St. Patrick's Day

Fishing success Is always about timing and being at the right place at the right time, but it’s doubly important in the winter when you can literally call your shots. Catching walleye and crappie at first ice, where you left them in the fall, is a great case in point. So, too, is landing the biggest pike of your life on spawning flats during the last two weeks of the season. Then there’s my favourite hardwater rendezvous: hooking into giant, hard-fighting lake trout on and around St. Patrick’s Day. And it’s so easy to do, too.

How easy? You need only to select a slightly longer than normal 36- to 42-inch-long, medium- to medium-heavy-action ice rod spooled with either 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line or 14-pound braid. In either case, add a small swivel to the end to avoid line twist, then attach a two-foot-long, 10-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.

Now, I don’t care where in this vast country you live, the gold standard St. Patty’s Day offering is a white, scented Berkley Power Tube, Mister Twister Exude Tube or Trigger X Tube (pictured above) stuffed with a ¼- or 3/8-ounce jig head, preferably moulded around a sticky sharp, fine-wire Gamakatsu hook.

Can you catch lake trout on other baits, such as spoons, rattling crankbaits and other soft-plastics? You can, but day in and day out you’ll catch more and bigger trout on the white, scented tube than anything else. It’s like having Stanley Cup champ Tim Thomas starting in net. On rare occasions he’s going to have a bad game, but on balance, you know he’ll come through.

The devil in me wishes I could make it more complicated, but having caught so many 20-pound-plus lake trout on this combination, I would be lying to suggest you need to use anything else—whether on St. Patty’s Day or any other time of winter.

Of course, the devil is in the details. First, regardless of the depth, keep your tube jig in the top 40 feet of the water column. Even if you’re fishing over much deeper water, you’ll attract and trigger more lake trout probing the top 40 feet. Next, play the electronics game using your sonar to feed back a constant flow of data about the composition and depth of the bottom, the position of baitfish and the presence of lake trout.

If you’re both fishing in the upper water column and closely watching your electronics, and you don’t spot any trout, you can almost be assured they’re prowling like great white sharks just a few feet beneath your boots. And they’ll be so big and so aggressive, your friends will turn the appropriate shade of envious green when they see your results on March 17.