Lake Trout – Outdoor Skills
Lake Trout – Outdoor Skills
Lake, or salmon trout, may be trolled for successfully with the above lure; but I do not much affect fishing for them. Excellent sport may be had with them, however, early in the season, when they are working near the shore, but they soon retire to water from fifty to seventy feet deep, and can only be caught by deep trolling or buoy-fishing. I have no fancy for sitting in a slow-moving boat for hours, dragging three or four hundred feet of line in deep water, a four-pound sinker tied by six feet of lighter line some twenty feet above the hooks. The sinker is supposed to go bumping along the bottom, while the bait follows three or four feet above it. The drag of the long line and the constant jogging of the sinker on rocks and snags, make it difficult to tell when one has a strike—and it is always too long between bites.
Sitting for hours at a baited buoy with a hand-line, and without taking a fish, is still worse, as more than once I have been compelled to acknowledge in very weariness of soul. There are enthusiastic anglers, however, whose specialty is trolling for lake trout. A gentleman by the name of Thatcher, who has a fine residence on Raquette Lake—which he calls a camp —makes this his leading sport, and keeps a log of his fishing, putting nothing on record of less than ten pounds weight. His largest fish was booked at twenty eight pounds, and he added that a well-conditioned salmon trout was superior to a brook trout on the table; in which I quite agree with him. But he seemed quite disgusted when I ventured to suggest that a well-conditioned cattie or bullhead, caught in the same waters—was better than either.
"Do you call the cattie a game fish?" he asked.
Yes; I call any fish a game fish that is taken for sport with hook and line. I can no more explain the common prejudice against the catfish and eel than I can tell why an experienced angler should drag a gang of thirteen hooks through the water—ten of them being worse than superfluous. "Frank Forester" gives five hooks as the number for a trolling gang.
It is 'idle to talk of playing the fish in water where the giving of a few yards insures a hopeless tangle among roots, tree-tops, etc. I was once fishing in Western waters where the pickerel ran very large, and I used a pair of the largest salmon hooks with tackle strong enough to hold a fish of fifteen pounds, without any playing; notwithstanding which, I had five trains of three hooks each taken off in as many days by monster pickerel. An expert muskellunge fisherman—Davis byname—happened to take board at , an eighteen-foot tamarack pole, and a twelve-inch sucker for bait. I thought it the most outlandish rig I had ever seen, but went with him in the early gray of the morning to see it tried, just where I had lost my hooks and fish.
Raising the heavy bait in the air, he would give it a whirl to gather headway, and launch it forty feet away with a splash that might have been heard thirty rods. It looked more likely to scare than catch, but was a success. At the third or fourth cast we plainly saw a huge pickerel rise, shut his immense mouth over bait, hooks, and a few inches of chain, turn lazily, and head for the bottom, where Mr. D. let him rest a minute, and then struck steadily but strongly. The subsequent struggle depended largely on main strength, though there was a good deal of skill and cool judgment shown in the handling and landing of the fish. A pickerel of forty pounds or more is not to be snatched out of the water on his first mad rush; something must be yielded—and with no reel there is little chance of giving line. It struck me my friend managed his fish remarkably well, towing him back and forth with a strong pull, never giving him a rest and finally sliding him out on a low muddy bank, as though he were a smooth log. We took him up to the house and tested* the size of his mouth by putting a quart cup in it, which went in easily. Then we weighed him, and he turned the scales at forty-four pounds. It was some consolation to find three of my hooks sticking in his mouth. Lastly, we had a large section of him stuffed and baked. It was good; but a ten-pound fish would have been better. The moral of all this—if it has any moral—is, use hooks according to the size of fish you expect to catch.
Sears, George Washington. Woodcraft. New York: Forest and Stream Publishing, 1884.
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