Our boat steers a course parallel to a break wall along Lake Michigan’s western shoreline. Early April water temperatures register in the mid 40s and air temperatures hover near freezing. The fish finder reads 28 feet deep. Where rock turns to sand, a steady procession of long, inverted V-shaped marks reveals the presence of giant lake trout. They resemble mini submarines stealthily positioned within a few feet of the bottom.
Lake trout can be temperamental feeders, but not on this day. I work a gold-colored blade bait on 20-pound-test braided line and medium spinning gear, and give the rod a flick after the lure hits the bottom. Through the rod tip, I can feel the lure jump off the sandy bottom and careen into an adjacent boulder. It flutters and flashes on the fall. The line goes slack as the lure settles back down. With the next snap of the rod, the lure rises just inches and is instantly swallowed up by one of the “mini submarines.”