Vertical Casting Initiates Feeding Fish
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Vertical Casting is a no brainier for lakers: “perpendicular moulding” looks too easy to be so successful
Dropping a spoon to the underside and reeling it back up is a simple but powerful strategy for capturing lake trout. The technique works best with a heavy spoon and fast cranking. The Lowrance LMS-350A is a great fishfinder for finding lake trout.
I Instructed my buddy, Bill Smith, as he was going to try my recently discovered lake trout process. “This is a complex technique. You have got to do everything just right.”
“Okay, okay. So what do I do?” he inquired.
“Drop your spoon to the bottom and reel it back up,” I said, attempting to keep a straight face.
“And…” Smith said.
“There’s no ‘end,'” I told him. “Like I mentioned, it is complicated–only consider it as perpendicular cast.”
Smith and I were fishing on Selwyn Lake, situated on the boundary of Saskatchewan as well as the Northwest Territories. It was mid-July as well as the trout were deep, from 60 to well over 100 feet. We understood we could get to the fish by trolling with downriggers or heavy (up to 12 oz) weights, or by rebounding leadhead jigs on the underside. But downriggers take away from the delight of catching the fish, and heavy sinkers take away the fight, so we were working leadheads. That is when I began telling him about “perpendicular cast.” After my tongue in cheek build-up, he believed the concept of dropping a spoon to the underside and hauling it back up was out and out nuts. But at my insistence he gave it a go.
As Smith was reeling up on his third fall, his pole doubled over. “Great fish,” he muttered, fighting to obtain a small line. as soon as I looked at his pole point and saw the slow, throbbing movement, I understood the fish he was into was more than “great.” Fifteen minutes after, I slipped the net under a 44-inches that we estimated to weigh 37 pounds. Not bad for a two-minute expert of perpendicular cast.
Truth be told, I also had been a skeptic when Guy Wall, owner of the Selwyn Lake Lodge (800 667 9556), had presented me to the practice. He just motored out into deep water a couple of hundred yards from the lodge, dropped a hefty spoon to the underside, jigged it several times and then quickly reeled it back up. Occasionally the fish hit while he was jigging; more frequently they smashed the spoon on the way upward, usually just a couple of feet beneath the boat. In a two-hour span, I saw Wallace land at least 20 trout, including one 25-pounder, all with only a light spinning outfit and what I believed was a crimson-and-white Dardevle.
I caught a crimson-and-white spoon from my tackle box, but even fishing alongside Wallace and fitting him nearly reel turn for reel turn, I really had no chance. Ultimately, Wall thrown me one of his spoons. “My secret lure,” he said. The bait (which I afterwards discovered was a Blue Fox Tor-P-Do) had metal at least twice as thick as the spoon I was using. Weighing 1 1/2 oz, it sank twice as quick and swam with a considerably more rapid wobble.
Vertical Casting was getting a trout on each second or third drop. After doing some added testing, I found I really could take even more trout by removing the jigging entirely and just dropping the bait down, feeling it “lump” and reeling it up. Cranking fast from the beginning clearly gets the fish believe their meal is getting away, so they swim up and catch it.
Now my issue was one of an entirely different nature. I was having troubles catching fish. In water this deep, line stretch with all the monofilament I was using made it hard to get a solid hookset. Next day, I changed from spinning equipment to a stiff, 7 1/2-foot flippin’ stick and a level-wind reel spooled with 30-pound-test SpiderWire fishing braid. What a difference! With the additional anchor and zero line reach, I really could sense the lightest peck, and hookups soared from perhaps 50 percent to more than 70.
Most schools of lakers are astonishingly tight, perhaps 15 or 20 feet in diameter, and that means you must utilise great electronic equipment to find and hold over them. I have located the Lowrance LMS-350A to be the perfect unit–particularly in distant lake trout nation–because it unites a high resolution liquid crystal graph with a GPS. I set up the unit on a mobile “blue box,” with a bike battery for electricity. Once discovered, I mark the school with a tethered float (including a Hilex), pitched good up-current so as not to interfere with the fishing. Subsequently, I turn the transom of the boat into the wind and hold right over the school, by easing the motor in and out of reverse.
In the event that you are placed correctly, you can anticipate to hook up from the very first drop and keep provided that you remain on the school. Sometimes, a fish will even swim up to intercept the spoon, causing the line to go slack long before it reaches base. At times you can see trout on the graph rising to catch the bait. It is sort of like a video-game; when a line angles upward from the base to meet one angling down from the top, prepare yourself to place the hook!
I have seen times when perpendicular cast starts a feeding frenzy within the complete school. When one fish begins to pursue the spoon up, the remaining part of the school follows in what’s clearly a competitive result. One day, while I was tearing a spoon toward the surface, my whole graph display abruptly turned black. Just then, a trout caught the spoon about 20 feet from the surface. As I was landing the fish, the blackness close to the bottom slowly vanished, but the black layer close to the surface stayed. In the beginning, I believed my graph was on the blink. The thought also crossed my mind the black layer was a school of trout, but that did not make sense because there were no distinguishing “hooks” on the display.
After this occurred several times, I finally discovered that when the graph was black, the lake surface was almost boiling. It turns out that as the school of trout swam upwards, they were burping up tens of thousands of bubbles, causing the graph to go black. Once the school lifted off the underside, the deep bubbles slowly increased,describing why the blackness close to the underside vanished.
Most freshwater fish aren’t effective at pursuing a bait from the bottom to the surface in 100 feet of water. The drop in pressure would cause their swim bladder to blow up like an around increased bubble. But lake trout and other members of the trout family are physostomous fish, meaning they’ve a duct joining their esophagus to their swim bladder. In this manner, they can burp upward atmosphere as the swim bladder grows, empowering them to freely swim up and down in the water column.
The primary drawback to perpendicular projecting is the fact that it has a tendency to work best for smaller trout, up to around 12 pounds. Large lake trout aren’t “chasers.” They spend most of their time close to the bottom, feeding on 14 to 20-inch whitefish and other large forage fish, including smaller lake trout. A modest spoon has little appeal to a large trout, because pursuing a lure fish that size is not really worth the energy it’d take.
However there are exceptions–like Diedrich’s 37-pounder. And then there was the time Ron Lindner was on Selwyn filming a segment because of his TV show. He was reeling up his spoon and was just about to lift it from the water when a giant laker caught it. Lindner automatically reared back to place the hook…and snapped his stick in half. As the camera turned to catch the activity, the trout headed straight for the bottom. Utilising the remaining half of his stick, Lindner somehow managed to horse the fish back up and land it. That one weighed 38 pounds.
After experiencing so much success with Vertical Casting on Selwyn, I was interested to try it out on a lake nearer to home. So when my buddies Jack Schneider and Dave Funk invited me on a lake trout visit to Saganaga Lake in northeastern Minnesota, I leaped at the opportunity. Saganaga’s lakers find plenty of fishing pressure, and this will be a opportunity to discover how “knowledgeable” trout would react to the technique.
I had the stick in my hand and my thumb on the spool as Schneider discontinued the motor over one of his favourite holes. I let the spoon go, sensed it hit bottom and began reeling up before anyone else even had his line in the water. The trout reach nearly instantly, and within seconds the five-pounder was flopping on Funk’s boots.
“Damnedest thing I Have ever seen,” Funk sputtered. “I have been fishing this lake for a decade and still have not got a trout, and you catch one in the first 30 seconds!”
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