For years, I’ve dipped the tails of my white tube jigs—quite possibly the best winter lake trout bait of all time—in chartreuse dye to imitate the yellow perch I’ve found in the stomachs of the smaller trout I occasionally keep for shorelunch.
Nowadays, however, I’ve expanded the pattern by fishing for lake trout in shallow to moderately deep lake sections—places no self-respecting lake trout angler would ever choose—and jigging with gaudy perch-hued lures, specifically Jigging Raps in Perch or Glow Tiger, Bass Magnet Lures Shift’R Shads in Glo Green, and Chartreuse Pearl Tinsel Tubes.
The results have been shocking, to the point where the pattern has produced my biggest lake trout for the past two winters. And I mean big fish. While recording an episode of In-Fisherman TV a couple of winters back, for example, my buddy Doug Stange and I lost an enormous lake trout because we couldn’t squeeze its massive head through the nine-inch hole.
I’m now convinced that packs of lakers sweep through shallow, 20- to 30-foot bays and coves targeting yellow perch, which have a much slower metabolism in the cold water of winter. It’s not that the trout prefer eating yellow perch, so much as the perch are abundant and easy to grab.
So when you go laker fishing this winter, select your locations as though you were targeting yellow perch. In other words, look for long underwater points and sunken rock reefs that top out in 20 to 30 feet of water. But instead of presenting an emerald shiner a foot or so off the bottom, jig your perch-hued lure in the middle of the water column, or at least 10 feet off the bottom. And get ready to be shocked.