Prove Your Laker Lures at Moss Island Lodges

By Mike Schoonveld

There are dozens of reasons to go to the Moss Island Lodges on the North Shore of Lake Superior. There is spectacular scenery, secluded fishing areas, comfortable accommodations, adventure, northern lights – and the chance for anyone to refine their lake trout fishing skills. The waters of Nipigon Bay and Lake Superior near Moss Island Lodges can serve up all sorts of fish for visiting anglers – walleyes, northern pike, salmon, even brook trout, but the star of the show is lake trout.

How important are lakers at Moss Island? Catches of 50 per day are common, even for first-time visitors. By the end of a four- or five-day trip, most anglers are able to catch and release 100 lake trout in one day. That’s one of the reasons I headed for Red Rock, Ontario last summer, the departure point for Moss Island and the lodges North Superior Charters maintains there 26 miles by boat from Red Rock, across Nipigon Bay.

It wasn’t so much I wanted to be on a boat that catches 100 trout per day, but I knew that would offer me an unexcelled opportunity to test out a variety of laker lures to see which ones worked well, which ones performed adequately and perhaps find some that were complete flops. Here’s why.

Most anglers (including me) have a small group of favorite, proven lures in favorite colors. How does a lure become proven? It has to be used and it has to catch fish. In order to do this, the fisherman – in this case, me – has to have enough confidence to fasten it to the end of the line and more important, fish it where there are actively feeding fish.

lake trout moss island
Frequent double hook-ups happen when using proven lures.

When I get a new lure, or perhaps a tried-and-true lure in a new color, it’s facing an uphill battle. It’s unproven and has to earn a spot in my opening line-up. Like most anglers, when I go fishing, I want my fishing partners and me to catch plenty of fish and one of the keys to that is to load up the rods with proven lures. For instance, when I’m back home and targeting lake trout on Lake Michigan, a green/glow spoon is proven fish catcher.  It’s always one of the first lures I set and often, I’ll run one green/glow spoon deep with a downrigger and I’ll send another into the depths with a Dipsey Diver.

They’ve earned my confidence. But what if the day starts slow and the green/glow spoon isn’t getting any attention? Is it time to pull out some of my “unproven” spoons or lures I’ve acquired for one reason or another.

On the surface, that seems like a good idea. The fish are ignoring the old, tooth-scratched, proven lures so peel the wrapper off that new lure or the new color lure and send it into the depths. Maybe that will be just the thing to turn a no bite day into a hot bite day.

Under the surface, that’s a horrible idea! If there are lures that are so reliable that you buy them in bulk lots, that are the first ones you tie on and the last ones to take off when the fish are biting, what makes you think the fish that are unexplainably snubbing them will eagerly slurp that untried new lure?

Chances are, the problem is not the lures, it’s the mood of the fish. Switching lures isn’t going to change their mood. How many times have you heard or even said yourself, “I threw everything in the tackle box at them and nothing worked.”  I have, but eventually I realized it was a rare day when I found that one, unproven lure that became a game changer and turned a no-bite day into even a “few-bite” day.

big lake trout
Big catches – both size and numbers – are always on tap near Moss Island Lodges.

More often, fish can go from a no-bite mood to neutral to actively feeding on any particular day. When their mood changes, what lures do I want in the water? I want my best, proven lures down there.

Therein lies the problem. If an angler starts the day with proven lures and they are working, chances are he or she will just keep that lure on the line. It’s hard to unhook a fish, then immediately switch to a different lure. That makes no sense unless you are fishing in a location like Moss Island Lodges where there are so many hungry fish it should be easy to catch fish even on unproven lures.

On the second day of our visit to Moss Island, our group was taking turns setting lines and catching fish, mostly using pink/chartreuse spoons called Two Face. The fishing was characteristically good, so I did the unthinkable. One of my fishing partners had just reeled in a nice trout and it tangled in the net as it was scooped aboard. I unhooked the snap-swivel from the spoon and let my partner untangle the lure and release the fish. I snapped on one of the “unproven” spoons I’d brought along and sent it down. How would it do?

That question was answered affirmatively in the next half hour, over and again. There was no difference in the productivity of that unproven lure and the proven spoons we’d been using. So I switched lures again and again.

Catch a few fish (or nothing for a while) then switch to something else.

Soon my fishing partners started participating as well. Since we were fishing with only two rods and using a pair of downriggers to position our lures just above the reefs where the lakers were suspended it wasn’t complicated.  We’d select an unproven lure from the assortment we’d brought along and send it into the depths, knowing we’d soon learn if they worked or not. Most did, but not all were equal.

There were several that didn’t measure up which made me question if they’d be good back at home. There were a few that caught trout faster than all the others. They became “proven” on Lake Superior and we used them with good results on the remaining days of our trip. I’m looking forward to learn if these proven laker lures will work as well on Lake Michigan.

If you want to plan a visit to Moss Island Lodges to experiment with your unproven lures and techniques check out www.northsuperiorcharters.ca or give them a call at 1-888-204-3257. I bet some of your best laker baits will help you catch and release 100 trout in a day and if that doesn’t interest you, pick any of the other dozens of reasons to head there.

Modern lodges offer wilderness comfort on Moss Island along Lake Superior's
Modern lodges offer wilderness comfort on Moss Island along Lake Superior’s north shore.

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