Early Spring Lake Trout Fishing: Unleash the Angler Within

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley

early spring lake trout fishing

Early spring lake trout fishing offers unique opportunities for anglers seeking these elusive fish. The warming weather draws lake trout closer to the surface, making them more accessible in shallower waters, especially during low-light periods1.

As the water temperature increases, lake trout tend to move up into the 20-30 foot range or shallower areas during early mornings and late evenings2. Focusing on current, depth, and cover changes can significantly increase the chances of a successful catch3.

Early Spring Characteristics and Lake Trout Behavior

Water Temperature

In early spring, lake water temperatures are typically cooler, ranging from about 56°F to 60°F, which is the preferred range for trout, according to fisheries scientists. Shallow areas tend to warm up faster under sunlight, attracting trout to these locations.

Trout Location

Lake trout, which generally prefer colder water, tend to be found in deeper areas during winter, as suggested by Fishbrain. However, as temperatures gradually rise during spring, these fish move to shallower waters near inlet creeks and rivers where small fish spawn, making these spots ideal for fishing (Outdoor Canada).

Forage and Feeding Patterns

As the season changes, lake trout begin to feed more heavily on the available prey in their environment. The influx of smaller fish species moving in to spawn creates an opportunity for lake trout to take advantage of this food source.

Fishing spots close to the lake’s points of connection with inlet creeks and rivers can increase the chances of finding hungry lake trout waiting for their next meal (Outdoor Canada).

lake trout caught while trolling

Essential Gear and Tackle

Rods and Reels

For early spring lake trout fishing, a 5 to 6-foot ultralight rod and reel combo is optimal for small streams and rivers. If targeting trout larger than 20 inches or planning to troll, choose a medium power rod (Take Me Fishing).

Line and Leaders

Choosing the right line is crucial for successful trout fishing. A 4- to 6-pound test monofilament line works well for smaller trout, while 8- to 12-pound test fluorocarbon line is better for larger lake trout. Using a fluorocarbon leader is also beneficial, as it is nearly invisible underwater and can help avoid spooking wary fish.

Lures and Baits

Effective lures and baits for early spring lake trout fishing include:

When fishing near creek mouths or drop-offs, cast a crankbait that dives to 12 to 15 feet, such as Down Deep Husky Jerks, Shad Raps, or Deep ThunderSticks (Outdoor Canada). Jigging with tubes or grubs is another effective option for deeper fish.

Fishing Techniques and Strategies

When targeting early spring lake trout, anglers must adapt their fishing techniques and strategies to maximize success.


Trolling is an effective method for covering large areas and locating active trout during this time. In the early mornings or late evenings, try trolling spoons near areas where sediment carries nutrients and insects, which attract prey for lake trout Fishbrain.

Consider adjusting your speed and depth as trout can be sluggish in the early spring and may be deeper in the water column Troutresource.


Jigging is another effective strategy for early spring lake trout. To target fish, use appropriate jigging lures such as soft plastics, swimbaits, or marabou jigs.

The slow presentation works best not to waste energy on the high-speed chase; allow the trout more time to strike Troutresource.


Casting lures along shade or ice lines can yield favorable results as these areas provide overhead cover for trout Field & Stream. Soft-hackle patterns are particularly effective for enticing strikes along these lines.

Additionally, be mindful of water temperature and clarity, as brown trout prefer colder water but not below 40° F and may be less active in icy conditions stepoutside.org.

Safety and Conservation

Safety on the Water

When embarking on early spring lake trout fishing, anglers must prioritize their safety. Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times is highly recommended, as water temperatures can still be cold during this season.

Additionally, anglers should be mindful of weather conditions and always inform someone onshore about their fishing plans. Equipping a boat with essential safety gear, such as a whistle, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher, can also help mitigate potential hazards.

lake trout large side vier
Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) isolated on white background

Catch and Release Practices

Ethical catch and release practices are essential in sustaining healthy lake trout populations. Using barbless hooks can minimize injury to the trout, making it easier to release them unharmed back into the water.

When handling caught lake trout, anglers should wet their hands to prevent damage to the fish’s protective slime. Avoid squeezing the fish or placing fingers in their gills; if possible, use a rubber net to land them. Lastly, it’s essential to quickly release the fish back into the water to minimize stress and maximize their chances of survival.

Summing it Up: Early Spring Lake Trout Fishing

In conclusion, early spring is a great time to go lake trout fishing. You can increase your chances of catching a trophy-sized fish with the right gear, knowledge, and techniques.

Remember to check local regulations and obtain the necessary permits before heading out. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, the thrill of reeling in a big lake trout is an experience you won’t forget.

So, grab your gear and hit the water for an exciting early spring fishing adventure.