Early Brown Trout


Here’s a twelve pound Brown I caught long lining with a planer board.

 It was early Spring at one of  Illinois/Indiana Lake Michigans warm water discharges at the southern end.  Notice the small spinner and the (glow in the dark) bead above the body…..This is a deadly lure/flasher combination I often use to nail  Brown’s, Coho’s and Steal head in early Spring…..Long lining with flat lines and planer boards are the key after ice out.  Find the warmest water, often in four to eight feet.   Always get your lures just in front of the warm water discharges, as this will be your best bet. As the shallows warm, browns will move out to ten to twenty-five feet of water. During the warmer summer months they will often suspend over fifty to one-hundred feet. 

To many great Lakes trollers, the Brown Trout is the prize of prizes among trout. Moody, shy, unpredictable as a junkyard dog and sometimes as ornery, browns can also be tough to catch. Many half-truths and outright myths have attached themselves to brown trout and brown trout fishing. Although it is true that browns gorge themselves to the bursting point, they do not eat themselves to death as some people believe. True, they are shy fish, and that is why most trollers rely on light line and long leads to catch them.

One of the best times to catch browns is in the Spring when the hungry fish target harbor mouths, factory and power plant hot water discharge runoffs. These areas attract bait fish which, in turn, draw brown trout.

Certain types of underwater structure seems to attract Great Lakes browns during the peak periods of May through July. Look for for fish to be close to shore on days when the wind blows offshore, and further from shore with an on shore wind. River mouths are like magnets for big browns because the current flow attracts the forage fish that they eat.  Deep water close to shore, a rapidly declining bottom contour, long points jutting out into the lake, or deep holes with shallow water on all sides are also good, especially when found far from shore.

A presentation that you work in shallow water, and works quite well is to  fish the surface down to fifteen feet with planer boards. Some of your choices are, Yellow Birds, Church boards and the bigger off-shore boards.  I’m a little hesitant to recommend a particular brand because what works for me may not work for you. I will say I find it easier to run a small board on each line rather than a large board with releases on the towline. I do feel it is important to run all the same type to get a presentation that is easy and productive.

The clear surface water leaves you with a visibility factor to consider. I run a 1/4 to 1 ounce bead chain trolling sinker at the end of the 20-25lb mono to avoid line twists and get the depth I want. From the sinker to the lure I use 8ft of a 12lb mono and a small round cross lock snap. When the fish hits, the board slides down to the trolling sinker. With the sinker in line, the board will not knock the fish off as it would if it ran down to the lure.

When setting this presentation, I set my boat speed at 2 mph and let out my lure about 30 to 100 feet and attach the board. This distance will change with the amount of light, type of lure and depth you want to fish. When action is slow, adjust this distance and see what happens.

Once the board is attached, carefully lower the board into the water and let out enough line to allow room for more boards, between that board and the boat. Boards should be spaced about 30 feet apart. When a fish hits, the board releases and it will drop back behind the boat. Land your fish and reset this board by letting out enough line to allow the board to fly back into the same spot it came from.

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