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Eagle Lake trout cooperate despite heat

Article and photo by Val Aubrey,
07/07/15 -- Tui chubs are now hatching. We are finding trout full of minnows trolling in what I call the Bermuda Triangle. Using Pikes Pt, Merrill Beach and Wildcat Pt as my “Points” and basically zigzagging and making circles between those areas when trolling.

Most of the trout are in excess of 30 feet of water, however very early in the a.m. I caught them in water 15 to 25 feet deep, running 12 to 22 feet deep and pretty close to the bottom. After sunrise, we moved out to 35 to 50 feet and headed north from Wildcat Pt where most of the trout were holding in between 21 and 24 feet deep, but later in the morning as deep as 32 feet.

Eagle Lake on July 1, 2015 Val Aubrey
Eagle Lake on July 1, 2015

I am still trolling relatively fast at 2.8 to 3.2 mph. Red Magic FishScale prism #1 and #2 Needlefish, Black/white/nickel #1 and #2 Needlefish, Cop Car, 50/50 flo orange/pearl and pearl bikini have been working best for us but nickel bikini did get a little attention, just not as much as the pearl. Fire Tiger and perch patterns have been working well the last couple of weeks, too. Perhaps the cloud cover we have been seeing intermittently has kept them working.

Baby Simon wobblers in red/nickel, orange/nickel, pear/orange are holding their own. Jay Fair or Arctic Fox hot orange and tui chub minnow trolling flies worked for us at the same depths as the lures this week. Rapala’s generally kick into gear once the trout start working bait balls but for the first few weeks of the hatch, it’s pretty critical to stay on the small side for minnow imitations. The trout know when a particular size is out of place in the natural world. As long as there are small baitfish, that’s what the trout will be going for. Later in summer we can up size to 2 ¾”-3 inch long but until then, the baby sizes work best. Orange/gold, Gold/black and Silver/black have been the overall standards, however, the rainbow trout has earned its place among them. Berkley Gulp minnows in pearl/watermelon and black shad are my go to plastic in small to begin with…2 ½’ to 2 ¾ inches long.

I often use an action disc with those or hook through the side and run them crippled. Pumpkin Seed grubs or minnows are also a favorite… whatever minnow pattern you choose to run, keep it on the smaller side. Watermelon grubs kicked into gear the last few days too and lures with a smattering of red are getting attention. Trolling nightcrawlers has also been picking up a few fish at the same depths. Most fish have been around 2 to 2½ lbs. but there have been a few caught that are pushing 3lbs. The shakers moved up off Miners Pt buoys.

The minnows inhaled by the trout on the west side and off Pikes Pt were about ¾” long and some still had egg sacks hanging from them so they haven’t been hatched for long. They’re tender little morsels for the trout. Trout remain scattered and mixed with adult tui chub on the east side, but beginning to hold in larger pods and higher numbers off the west side out from Lake of the Woods to Shrimp Island. We worked in close and out towards the middle of the basin and found a pretty darned good bite. There are also some trout closer to the ramp. Pikes Pt and the deeper water out from it has always held trout this time of year. There are a lot of weed beds around the ledges of Pikes Pt and that’s where I found trout chasing the first hatch of tui chub minnows….and they didn’t let me down this morning. The bite lasted for several hours this morning and will only get better. Well, I am sure I am not alone in saying that I don’t know just how much better it can get. Some days can be a little tougher than others, but all in all, the lake has been fishing great. I am not releasing trout this time of year with surface temps in the low 70’s. I stopped releasing when it hit 68F as that is when most of the fish brought to the boat were already bleeding from the gills.

Most of my best catching trolling over the last few weeks has been out in the middle between Eagles Nest and Shrimp Island working north towards Miners Pt buoys and Black Mt. But, right now the trout are pretty scattered on the east side and I am finding a lot more working the west side and out from Pikes Pt this week. The Springs has had a large school of tui chub the last couple weeks. I have been monitoring tui chubs on the west side the last few weeks. The west side was loaded with adult tui chubs spawning a few weeks ago but they are thinning out now as the voracious trout move in and ambush the freshly hatched baitfish. (Please note that it is illegal to use minnows as bait in this lake, including the ones you catch here).

Lake Conditions: Elevation as of 7-4-15 was 5091.70 feet from 5091.93 feet on 6-20-15. The Merrill Ramp is still functioning for most all boats. Surface temps are between 71F-73F but as high as 75F+ on a hot afternoon. We usually hold around 71-72F for summer. The big spring was pumping out enough cold water to hold a surface temp of 61F and surrounding water around 63F. It’s generally found south of Miners Pt and between Shrimp Island and Eagle’s Nest both north and south of my position. There has been a lot of globular algae on the surface off Wildcat and Lake of the Woods which will move around with the wind. It wasn’t too bad today. There has been some surface weeds north of Eagle’s Nest on the east side but it is mostly clean off Shrimp Island and Lake of the Woods on the west side. Pikes Pt was pretty clean as was most of the middle. Check lines periodically if you haven’t had a strike in a while.

Val Aubrey is a long-time resident of Spalding and is considered one the best all-around authorities about all aspects of Eagle Lake and its world famous trout fishery. Aubrey is the publisher of (“All Eagle Lake All the Time”) and is a devoted advocate for the lake and the surrounding environment. Be sure to visit her website for complete details on fishing, ramp conditions, water quality and how you can help preserve this fantastic resource.

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