Trollin’ for Trout
If you’ve never given rainbow trout a try, you really ought to. Personally, I like it smoked best. Trout was all the rage where I used to live in the mountains. But here, it’s a bit more difficult to come by. Sure you can get it in some restaurants and select super markets, but I’m talking about the fresh out of the water caught a half hour ago kind.
Luckily, there is at least one great place, Lake Gage to find trout in Steuben County. It doesn’t hurt that the lake is gorgeous too. (Clear Lake used to have great trout fishing, but hard times have changed that.)
Recently, veteran fisherman Bill LaVigne and his friend Tom, both of whom have been trolling for nearly 40 years, took me out for the afternoon to see what we could catch (watch the video above for more on our adventure). We hadn’t even set up when we saw a school of cisco on Bill’s gps. He informed me that they’re somewhat of a rarity in Steuben County these days too.
Bill and Tom worked at GE making tools before early retirement, so it’s no surprise that they’ve developed their own spoons and canon balls for better trout trolling.
Trout are cold water fish. In the spring, fisherman often catch them fishing from the shore or in the shallows with a kayak. But as the water warms the fish go deep, sometimes as much as 30 feet deeper.
We went out on September 1, just at the end of the season. Even though it was the day after a storm with a northeast wind (which they informed me was not good for fishing) they were able to deliver a few fish for the camera.
The DNR stocks Lake Gage annually, so most of the fish caught are less than a year old and come in between thirteen and fifteen inches long. Occasionally, Bill and Tom catch something much bigger. Not long before I joined them Bill got a 30-inch pike by accident.
Getting to Lake Gage by boat is a bit of a trick. The only public access point is on Lime Lake and boats must fit under a very low bridge from the CCC days. If the boat is too big it won’t make it and if the water’s too low it won’t make it. So fisherman must wait for those Goldilocks ‘just right’ conditions. Of course, there’s always the possibility of making a friend with property on the lake who might allow private access.
Bill suggests using a gps, not only to track fish, but also because it’s very easy to get turned around on the lake. On this day three fish were caught between 38 and 40 feet down. Typically, he likes to catch and release. But exceptions are often made for guests. And so I went home with fresh fish perfect for smoking.