I love to fish for both warm-water & cold-water species through the ice. Among the cold-water species Rainbow trout are at the top of my list. Rainbows are extremely active through our cold winter months and they can easily adapt to feeding at any depth from 5′-over 50′. Rainbow Trout are native to the west-coast of North America but they have been distributed throughout the world. All of our Rainbow Trout in our Ontario lakes have been introduced.
Some lakes have been purposely stocked for sportfishing and then there are those Rainbows that are “escapees” from aquaculture operations. Here are my favorite ways to catch both:
-Fishing minnows, worms, roe bags using a tip-up or using a jigging rod with 6 lb. test, the smallest hooks possible and a light fluorocarbon leader. Rainbows have great eyesight in clear water so using the least amount of terminal tackle is an asset.
-Jigging vertical jigging spoons and small lip-less crankbaits in the water column. Rainbows are aggressive strikers and quick-snaps of both lures work well to bring them in and to get them to hit.
-Gently jigging a soft-plastic grub like the Fishing Compete Lil Hellgrammite. I fish these on a 1/8 oz jighead and gently shake them starting from the bottom to the mid-column of the water depth.
My goal is to make the small plastic grub look and act like a small live organism. Jigging gently and slow is the key.
I use all these presentations at different water depths. My key is to locate where the Rainbows are feeding. I start shallow early in the day and work my way a little deeper as the light intensity increases.