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Kayak Fishing Ice out Brook Trout

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” Ernest Hemingway

Although the calendar says it’s spring, you certainly wouldn’t know it. The lakes of Eastern Ontario are covered with snow and ice, and my Jackson Coosa FD is still in hibernation. But today, I find myself thinking about wild Brook trout (Salmo Fontinalis). In fact, I thought about them yesterday, and will likely think about them again tomorrow. Make no mistake, with every winter, comes spring, and soon enough I’ll find myself fishing a Brook trout lake, smiling from ear to ear.

I guess you could say I’m a bit of a wild Brook trout fanatic. I watch you-tube videos of others catching this precious species, noting the time of year, water depth, technique, and lure choice. I inspect photos of my past experiences and reminisce about family trips to Algonquin Provincial Park as a child. Armed with a box of worms and a light rod, we’d have a blast hiking small creeks and catching native Brook trout (aka brookies, specks and squaretails) one after another. Nowadays, the majority of my Brook trout fishing is done from the comfort of my kayak.

It’s hard not to pinch myself when targeting specks at ice-out. Fishing pristine, cold, clear lakes is what I consider “heaven on earth”, and there’s no place I’d rather be. The sights, sounds, and smells of spring are an overload to the senses. At this point, thinking about catching is secondary, as I’m most excited just to be pedaling again. In a split second, a Zen moment can turn hectic, as the rush adrenaline hits at the same moment a feisty square tail smashes your shiny spoon. The fight is on- an epic battle (on light line) between this voracious predator and the shaking angler. Your mind is already fast-forwarding to the moment that you can gently handle the trout and appreciate its beauty before a quick photo, followed by a fist bump and a loud WOO HOO!! to your buddy who has just pedaled next to you, basking in your glory.

In my opinion, Brookies are by far the prettiest freshwater species on the planet. If you’ve been lucky enough to hold one of these gems in person, you can’t help but be awe-inspired by their unique color patterns. You’ll catch one trout that appears light-colored, while the next one may be dark. Males can have bits of orange, while both sexes can be painted copper, brown, green, silver and everything in between (not to mention their speckles or halos…just wow!). Each brook trout is unique when it comes to their natural beauty.

Ice-Out Kayak Fishing Techniques

With a dark roof over their head all winter, I imagine trout to be as excited for open water as a winter-weary kayak angler. These fish are rested (they spawn in the fall), hungry and fearless. They cruise the shallows of their crystal clear, cold waters in search of invertebrates, minnows, crayfish, and leeches just to name a few. To use this knowledge to your advantage, it’s best practice for the kayak angler to pedal or paddle these same shallow areas. I like to troll (otherwise known as strolling) the shorelines with my favorite spoon at a casts-length behind the kayak. This technique is the most efficient way to cover water. When I get to a wood-strewn bay or some other fishy looking structure, I’ll stand up and cast, picking apart the honey hole more thoroughly. *Tip- Brookies love wood!

My pole of choice for squaretails is a 7’6” XF Fenwick Elite. This rod is designed for walleye fishing, but I find the long length and the extra fast tip perfect for casting ‘long bombs’ using lighter lures. The XF tip is ideal for absorbing those headshakes (did I mention how powerful these fish are?). When combining value and quality, it’s hard to beat the Fenwick Elite series. I pair this rod with a Stradic CI4+ reel and spooled with a 6-pound braid to a 6- or 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. This combo gives me the confidence to land a big hen or colorful male should they mistake my spoon for a fleeing minnow. *Tip- the reel should be fully spooled, thus decreasing friction when casting light lures.

I’m also a big fan of strolling flies. Trolling flies for ice-out trout A long 6-weight fly-rod spooled with sinking line, a long fluorocarbon leader with a home-tied fly on the business end, is an exhilarating wat to catch trout in general. Having rods set up for both techniques is a pro decision in my books.

Trolling Flies for Ice-out Trout | Kayak Fishing

Top 3 Favorite Ice-Out Brook trout lures


Size #1 EGB blinker

Little Cleo

*Tip- Using a swivel will prevent line twists when throwing spoons.

Scott and family with Zack Fiddis (Frontenac Outfitters)
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Final Thoughts

The Native Brook trout of North America is a symbol of persistence, adaptability, and the pristine wilderness where they thrive. A brook trout cannot survive anywhere else.

With the ice belt slowly loosening its grip up here in the North, it’s time to dust off the kayak and hit the open water. With peaceful wilderness as your backdrop, be sure to soak it all in. It’s springtime in a Jackson Kayak, and everything is possible.