Lake Trout

Fishing For Lake Trout In Lake Michigan

Before non-native trout and salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes, the native lake trout were the top predators. Now salmon have replaced them entirely in some areas of the lakes. Non-natives are not the only challenges these local trout have faced. Sea lampreys are troublesome parasites to them. Nonetheless, native “Lakers” are still very important sports fish in Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and the other Great Lakes.

Native Lake trout are usually located in the deepest waters because they prefer cold temperatures; however, in the autumn and in the spring they can be found in shallow water. Anglers seem to have the best luck trolling the bottom for them using a variety of lures and bait, such as:

  • Cowbells
  • Minnows
  • Flashers
  • Spoons
  • Flies

The location of lake trout has also changed because of changing conditions in the lakes. For example, zebra mussels have become established and this has changed the clarity of the water. For this reason, Lakers can often be found very near the surface.

Jig fishermen can find them easily around reefs that originate in deep water but rise very high in the water column. For example, areas around Standard Rock or Isle Royal are very likely locations.

Autumn is spawning time for lake trout, and they can usually be found during this time near shoals and reefs. Some will migrate upstream, though. This can create good opportunities for angling on piers. In these locations, anglers have good luck using minnows, smelt, or spawn as bait on the bottom. Casting with spoons is also successful.

Steelhead fishermen report catching lake trout occasionally in several locations in or near the Great Lakes. Rivers and drowned river mouths have yielded incidental lake trout catch during the spawning season.

Deepwater fishermen also report catching lake trout in odd places during the winter months. Locations include Great Lakes bays such as Keweenaw Bay and Traverse Bay. In these locations, fishermen use cut bait on jigs or spoons to catch lakers through the ice.

Some of the inland lakes have natural lake populations or have been stocked with them. These locations provide great, year-round fishing opportunities for skilled Great Lakes fishermen and women. For the best of luck, try Crystal, Torch, Elk, and Higgins Lakes.


  • We will meet again Lloyd. Thanks a bunch. I treated my neighbor as he had done me a few favors and he had a very good time on his first big water adventure!! I ate my first non-commercial catfish last…- No Weeds and Tight Lines
  • On the weekend of 8/27/2005, my wife and I chartered an afternoon fishing trip hoping to catch some walleye with Capt. Lloyd from Cedar River Charters. We checked into our room on Sat. at 1:00 p.m. We met (the owner…- Got our Limit!!!