I had an opportunity to get out trolling for winter/early spring brown trout on Lake Ontario a couple of times recently. I had a great time and caught some nice fish. There is something special about trolling Lake Ontario in March with ice-covered piers and shoreline while most anglers aren’t even thinking about their boats yet. Very few brave souls engage the icy elements and tricky launch ramps with salt and ice chisels to get out early in the year for trophy brown trout. Most of the time, I don’t see anyone all day. The launch ramp is the most difficult part of the equation most times. Some ramps are simply not available or frozen up, requiring extensive chiseling and salt to launch. A four wheel drive truck is helpful, especially at the end of the day on an icy ramp. With the right conditions, a cold day in March can warm you up in a hurry when you tangle with a trophy sized brown trout!
The shoreline from 5- to 15-feet of water seems best with in-line planer boards and shallow floating stick baits. The Storm Thunderstick has been my go-to lures of choice. I typically start with 60-feet of line out, attach an inline planer board, then let out another 160-feet or more. I then add another board inside approximately 75-100-feet out from the boat. I try various lures until I get bites on any given day, but the Storm Thunderstick has been my best producer over the years.
I find speeds of under 2mph is best in the cold water. Brown trout are available in shallow sandy areas on Lake Ontario in good numbers early in the year. If you can find stained green water on a beach or creek mouth, brown trout may be present. Brown trout are located all over Lake Ontario, but few anglers take advantage of them in March. April can see a bit of pressure for spring browns. I utilized Rapala Delta line counter reels to be able to get an accurate amount of line out, teamed with RType inline planer board rods. Sufix 832 braid and Siege is my line of choice.
If you would like to venture out early in the year, safety should be a priority. Flotation suits, layering well and all the safety gear in the boat should be looked at. The early spring can be a good time to catch big brown trout, and having little wind is a big factor when venturing out in the cold elements. I keep a close eye on weather and head in quickly with unstable conditions.