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POSTED BY: Aktray on 06/09/2010 21:22:38

How to Catch Lunker Trout in a Lake… from the Bank



Pretty much anybody can land some fish in a boat.  It provides more flexibility and gets you out in the good spots and once fished out, move quickly to other spots.  But what if you don’t have a boat?  What if you hiked in?  Or just decided to stop at a lake and throw your line out. 


Well, fear not my fellow bank-fishermen!  I have two methods that I use that have worked every time.  And I mean EVERY time.  Even when it seems hopeless, follow these steps and you’ll be the envy of those boat-floaters in no time.  Why, I recall one day some years back when my brother-in-law and I decided to fish the banks of a pristine lake outside of Bend, Oregon.  It was thought only to be productive if you fly fished from a float tube.  Not so my friends.  We used Method One below and soon had about 15 float tubed fishermen surrounding our fishing hole off the bank.  Their fly casting lines all tangled up with each other.  Cussing and looking at our stringer of giant trout.  I caught the biggest freshwater fish of my life that day.  A rainbow that measured 22 inches and weighed 8 pounds!


With that said, read on and learn how us redneck, beer-drinkin’, bank-fishing, bait-plunkers do it!


Method One


This method is good in most lakes.  I use it more on the warm water lakes below 5,000 foot elevation.  Keep in mind that there is actually a higher concentration of fish near the banks of lakes because there are more bugs, worms, flies, and other goodies falling in from the bank, the trees, and plants.  But that is the problem… competition with the fish’s natural food sources.


Your goal is to outcompete with all that food floating around near the banks.  Here’s how to do it.  You will need the following items:


  • Fishing pole (sorry – had to say it)
  • 4 pound test line
  • Slip sinkers
  • Split shot sinkers
  • Treble hooks
  • Powerbait (chartreuse color)
  • Wd40
  • Lawn Chair
  • Cooler full of beer (Deschutes Black Butte Porter preferred)
  • Fishing net


Set up your rigging by first stringing a slip sinker on your line.  Then place a splitshot on the backside of the slip sinker (closest to your pole) about 3 feet from the end of the line.  Then tie a treble hook on.  Slap a wad of power bait on it, and squirt it with some Wd40 (don’t worry; it is safe to the environment).  Your rigging should look like the following drawing.








You will want to cast out about 30 yards at first and then try in closer on subsequent casts.  I call this trial casting to find the correct distance out where the fish are hanging out.  Of course each lake is different so you will want to take note of natural habitat such as outcroppings, dead logs, and underwater rock formations.  You can also adjust the distance of the splitshot sinker from the end of your line.  This allows the bait to rest at different distances from the bottom of the lake.


After your cast, reel in until you have just enough slack where the line is laying nicely on the surface of the water with very little to no tension to your pole.  Between each cast, let it sit there for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes.  This method of fishing is not interactive, thus the cooler of beer at your side.  Kick back, relax.  Let the rigging do the work.  All you have to do is keep your eye on the slack laying on the water.  Big trout are big for a reason.  They don’t take nicely to a gob of powerbait jerking around the water.  They will however, swim around it and make sure it ain’t attached to a human.


The rigging is set up in such a way as to allow the powerbait (which is floating midwater about 3 feet off the bottom of the lake) to react naturally with the currents, including the small currents caused by a fish swimming near it.  The fish will then gulp it in and likely spit it back out as another test.  This will cause the line on the top of the water to move slightly.  Once you see that, put your beer down and get ready to grab your fishing rod.  But wait for it.  Once you see the line make a deliberate disappearing act (sinking below the surface where you can no longer see it) then you grab your pole and set the hook with a strong upward jerk.


FISH ON!  Now be careful.  This method usually gets the bigger fish on the bottom of the lake.  Eight pound trout vs. four pound line.  You do the math.  Make sure your drag is set relatively low.  You should be able to easily pull the line out with only a slight drag.  Once you have a huge fish on, you need to keep the tip of your rod up at about a 75 degree angle from the water.  This makes the fish fight against the inertial energy of your fishing pole instead of the strength of your fishing line.  Because the fish are large and your line is light, you will want to use the net to finish getting them out of the water.


Done.  Take a picture and turn it loose.  Unless you’re hungry then save it for dinner.  Hey, we are rednecks after all, right?




Method Two


I use Method Two more in the high lakes.  You know, those little gems that you have to hike into.  The fish up there are hungrier so they are easier to catch.  But, the bigger ones are smart and stay near the bottom.  Here you will need the following:


  • Fishing pole (again, I have forgotten mine on occasion)
  • Six pound test line
  • Splitshot sinkers
  • Treble hooks
  • Powerbait (orange with sparkles)
  • Nightcrawlers


This method is easier to set up than Method One.  But, you have to work harder while you are fishing.  So it is harder to drink beer.  You may want to wait until you get back to camp to throw down some cold ones.  But once you prance into camp with a stringer of trout, you’ll have buddies tossing you cold ones all night.


Put a splitshot on your line about 1 foot from the end of the line.  Tie on the treble hook.  Slap a small gob of powerbait on the hook so that the points are showing.  Stab on a half a night crawler so that it is securely stuck by each of the three points on the hook.  Cast out using the same methodology as Method One.  Farther out first, then closer later.  Let it hit the bottom of the lake.  Then once every minute bounce it up a bit.  You will be able to feel it hit the bottom. 


Within 10 bounces you will have a fish on!  Or be snagged on a dead log… one or the other.  Keep in mind that bouncing the bottom will cause you to snag up often.  Just cut your line and start over.


The fish in the high lakes are smaller, so no need to bring a net.  Especially if you had to hike in.  But if you’re lucky enough to hook a lunker, just be careful not to put too much pressure on your six pound test line or you’ll lose it.  It will be the “one that got away”!


Well, there you have it.  Two proven methods to catch big fish out of lakes without a boat.  I know there are plenty of other sure-fire methods out there.  So if you have one, please post it here.  Happy fishing!





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