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Last chance for Big Brookies

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Fall is my favourite time of year to be outdoors with its cooling temperatures, limited biting insects and marvelous colours and fragrances. It also offers the best shot at landing a trophy brook trout. Check your local regulations for season dates, but on Lake Nipigon and many inland lakes the season runs until September 15th or longer.

The end of September is prime spawning time for brook trout, which means late August and early September finds them in search of gravel runs, rocky shoals and fresh water springs to stake out prime spawning turf. The pre - spawn also means they are ferocious feeders trying to pack on energy reserves to see them through the riggers of reproduction. It’s here and now mother nature brings out her best colour pallet and paints these fish into the most beautiful freshwater species on earth.

LOCATION

The North Shore of Lake Superior has been blessed with incredible brook trout fishing. The coaster population is peaking, and current regulations are ensuring a sustainable level, along with anglers seeing the benefit of catch and release. The brook trout range has now reached from the US border at Pigeon Bay across to Sault Ste Marie. Thunder Bay has been the newest home to monster brookies. I have recently spoken to the angler who caught an 11 lb brook trout last year and has landed many others over 6 lbs. The lakeshore East of Thunder Bay is also prolific and shore anglers have seen increasing numbers of nice sized trout. The waters from Red Rock to Rossport remains my favorite site. Lake Nipigon is home to the 14 lb world record and still holds potential to break this long-standing title. If you’re going out there, be very careful and pick the calm days because fall weather patterns have been known to turn Lake Nipigon into a scene from the movie “The Perfect Storm “.

LURE SELECTION

Let me say upfront that fly fishing trout can be the most exciting way to reel one in. I spent a late summer day with Superior Fly-Fishing guide Scott Earl Smith and landed many brookies over four pounds. We used giant streamer flies for these trophy class fish, like the green butt money and egg sucking leech patterns. A great source of information on fly fishing trophy brook trout can be obtained from a book called “Ontario Blue-Ribbon Fly-Fishing Guide “by Frank Amato Publications. In my mind one local angler is the king of trophy brook trout. Randy Beamish a fly- fishing enthusiast lands and releases dozens of brookies over five pounds and some as large as eleven pounds every season. For those spinning reel fisherman, a selection of small casting spoons in silver / blue, red / gold and fire tiger will hit the mark. Rapalas in medium size that are shallow runners are best in chrome and silver / blue patterns. My personal best lure has always been the Nipigon jig fly. It has been the topic of many of my past articles and for good reason. It is a bullet head jig, handcrafted and tied with bucktail, flashaboos and feathers to resemble a darting minnow. This is available through the internet Mighty Mitch Jig Flies and D/R Sporting Goods located in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

TECHNIQUE

Technique may be the most important aspect of obtaining a big fish. It can’t be stressed enough that a silent approach is key, as these shy fish will not bite if spooked. The main two styles are wading in from shore and angling from a boat. When shore casting you need to select a shoreline that offers access to nearby deep water and lots of rocks. The brook trout hide amongst these rocks and stay in the shadows ready to ambush prey. Try and get out after a good rain, because this is the triggering factor for trout to feed aggressively. Present your fly is a swing fashion by casting upstream and allowing the current to swing the line and lure downstream,

When fishing from your boat, don’t get right on top of the fish. Stay within casting distance and make long casts with slow retrievals. The lure should dance across the top of the rocks, if you don’t feel the odd touch of bottom, you’re reeling to fast. Look for dark shadow areas and creek mouths, they remain a prime source for active trout waiting for an easy meal to wash downstream. When using Nipigon jig flies it is important to cast and retrieve, do not jig them like walleye fishing. The lure needs to take on the look of a darting minnow. These jigs are available in white heads to imitate an array of bait minnows and muddler patterns to imitate fat head minnows and large nymphs.

Known as aggressive biters, plan to fish for at least three days, as one of those will be non-productive while another will see numbers of eager trout.

PRESERVATION

This trophy class fishery is very fragile, and I can’t stress enough the importance of catch and release. I have seen graphite replica taxidermy and am sold on it. The finished product looks better than using the real fish skin, and it last’s forever. I think we all owe a round of applause to the Nipigon MNR for their years of work stabilizing the brook trout fishery. If you ever have the time and want to take the family on a fall drive, head to the Dorion Fish Hatchery located East of Thunder Bay. The manager will be glad to arrange a tour where you can see the tanks of Nipigon brook trout. These fish are the adult brood stock supplying our inland lakes. Later they are placed back into easily fished waters for us all to enjoy.


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