Fish This – A Yukon Lake Trout Mystery

By on June 26, 2022 0

By Andrew Cremata

Three years had passed since I had walked the narrow path to the lake. Water levels were abnormally high for mid-June, but little had changed. Tilting mountains carved against a blue sky, their peaks covered in patches of white snow. Two loons swam toward the mouth of a turbulent creek, its sandy banks swollen with meltwater.

As I have done a thousand times over the years, I attached a Luhr-Jensen Krocodile spoon to my fishing line. The Krocodile is a classic fishing lure — a Carefully crafted piece of polished metal weighing fractions of an ounce, with a hook at one end and a swivel at the other. My Krocodile also sported an orange racing stripe.

Generally, fish are not inclined to eat stainless steel slices. The Krocodile Spoon catches fish with its clever design. The metal is bent into a shape that makes the lure mimic the swimming motion of a small fish. The shape looked like a spoon for someone with terrible eyesight. The back and forth movement of the spoon emits low vibrations which propagate through the water.

Trout (and many other fish) are equipped with a lateral line, a sensitive sensory organ that runs along the flanks of the fish on both sides of its body. The lateral line is able to pick up the tiny vibrations emitted by small crankbaits.

The lateral line also detects pieces of metal designed to mimic swimming fish. The lake trout feels the vibration of the spoon and approaches to take a closer look. However, if the lure doesn’t look like food, the trout won’t bite.

Fooling a predatory fish entirely also requires a touch of artistic license. The spoons are adorned with reflective properties and a full spectrum of vibrant colors. If the trout thinks the piece of metal is a small fish, its predation instinct kicks in and it attacks the lure. The trick is to use spoons that match the size, shape and color of the fish’s normal prey.

Years of trial and error have assured me that tying a polished silver Krocodile spoon with an orange band is the undisputed champ for catching June lake trout at the aforementioned Yukon Lake.

My technique is simple. After casting the lure and letting it sink, I bring it back very slowly, sometimes letting it bounce off the bottom.

On my third cast of the day, a tangle in my line forced me to interrupt my retrieve. As I worked diligently to untangle a tiny but stubborn knot, my orange-striped spoon landed on the bottom of the lake.

Seconds later, my rod end started twitching like a nervous groom on his wedding day after drinking too much coffee. Suddenly a fish was firmly attached to the other end of my fishing line, making it impossible to untie the difficult knot. A minute later I was dragging my first fish of the day to shore – a beautiful 18 inch lake trout.

Confused, I began to wonder if my first fish of the day was a particularly dumb trout. A spoon lying on the bottom of the lake is nothing more than a piece of dead metal. If predatory fish have started eating immobile steel plates at the bottom of lakes, the fishing lure industry is in big trouble. I’m also fairly certain that painted metal is not part of a healthy trout’s nutritious breakfast.

Fully convinced that trout number one was an anomaly, I got back to work. After sinking the spoon, I let it sink and immediately focused my attention on the knot. Barely ten seconds passed before the stem began to shake violently. It was as if thirty fish were all tugging at the stationary alloy material at the bottom of the lake.

However, another trout managed to hang on. At this point I was barely participating in the fishing experience other than casting and reeling a fish – another 18 inch laker. I checked that the trout had eyes, as the water was crystal clear.

Trout are revered around the world as one of the most important and cunning game fish. Anglers spend countless frustrating hours in lakes, streams and rivers chasing smirking trout that simply refuse to bite anything and everything. Lake trout have a reputation for being one of the hardest trout to fish from shore.

Yet somehow, in just three years, it seemed the lake trout in one particular Yukon lake had gone sloppy. Heck, even lowly bottom-feeding catfish have enough sense not to eat metal. And catfish will eat just about anything!

Having lost interest in the little knot, I again threw in my Krocodile spoon and let it sink to the bottom. The impact was immediate, as if the trout knew exactly where it would mysteriously appear. It was the same piece of metal responsible for the sudden and mysterious disappearance of two finned members of his own school.

No doubt the fish I had just caught saw them pick up the piece of metal and suddenly fly into a frenzy, battling an unseen enemy only to be pulled out of the water against their will. The next thought that entered the trout’s little fishy brain was, “Wow! It looks delicious!”

The third laker of the day was a lunker, topping the 23-inch mark on my tape measure. Three lake trout is also the legal limit so there was little reason to continue fishing.

The cause of the day’s events remains a mystery. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a fishing story that most people relegate to barely believable, or an outright fabrication meant to trick other anglers into wasting time pursuing questionable fishing techniques. .

Trying to figure out why fish do what they do makes just as much sense as trying to apply logic to many human endeavours. What I know for sure is that a lot can change in three years, but grilled lake trout is always delicious.