Ask an expert: Trolling for brown trout

by Editorial Staff | April 4, 2022
brown trout swimming shallows

Q: I’d like to start trolling for brown trout in the spring on Lake Ontario. What structure, depth, speed, and presentation do you recommend for someone who has never targeted these fish before?
Jordan Schwindt, Guelph

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A: OOD contributor and veteran Lake Ontario angler Jason Forde responds: Brown trout can be targeted trolling in the spring very close to shore, and a big fancy boat is not required. Anytime the weather starts to break in late winter and runoff from snow melt, or rain occurs, is a good time to target browns. They are caught actively feeding in shallow water all spring and summer.

Colour and noise

Water colour is probably the biggest factor in finding feeding fish in the spring, as it will impact the temperature of the water and it creates cover for baitfish that are hiding from predators.

Trolling for browns can be very productive if done properly. They are spooked by boat motor noise and wake, so slow trolling planer boards and long leads is beneficial. Trolling at speeds of 3 to 3.5 km/h (1.9 to 2.2 mph) in depths of five to 35 feet of water are most productive, focusing on mudlines/edges, through muddy water, along contour breaks, and near creekmouths.

Experimenting with lures

A spread of planer boards on flat lines is a great way to experiment with different lures that dive to different depths. Trolling close to shore may result in large variation between the depth at the outside and inside rod, so lure selection is critical as the dive depth of your bait should be matched to the depth of water.

My favourite diving baits are Rapala Husky Jerks, Jointed Rapalas, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, and Cotton Cordell Wally Stingers.

I hope this gets you pointed in the right direction. Good luck.

Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine.

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