Being a lake trout enthusiast myself, when I first came across this book I was looking forward to what promised to be an interesting and informative read.
In particular, I wanted to know what characteristics and attributes the authors believe these fish have, that make it “North America’s Greatest Gamefish.”
Lets face it, there are many anglers who will argue with great passion and conviction that Pike, Musky, Bass, Walleye, Brook Trout, Sturgeon and perhaps even Perch are deserving of the crown – so what makes Salvelinus namaycush, or as the authors prefer to call them, “forktails” so special?
I guess we’ll never know, because the book falls well short of articulating in a clear and concise way, why the lake trout is deserving of such lofty status.
Unfortunately the book also misses the mark in a number of other areas as well.
There are long passages regarding their experiences catching other species of fish, information on how to prepare for a fly out, the use of guides, grocery lists and what gear to pack for a fishing trip.
In addition, the book contains a variety of seemingly random historical vignettes featuring George Back and Sir John Franklin, and an overly detailed history of the companies who manufacture some of the more popular lures used to catch lake trout.
What any of this has to do with either actually catching, or convincing the reader that the lake trout is king – I honestly don’t know – much of it just appears to be filler.
On page 169, in the chapter entitled, Trout Tackle and Equipment the authors, who appear to know very little about the physiology of lake trout that come from Canada’s far north, and in particular Great Bear Lake state:
“Light line for big trout? Why not? After all the current IGFA freshwater line class world records for lake trout are mighty impressive in this regard.”
The line class records to which they refer are two “ancient fish…” which weighed 49 and 50 pounds 8 ounces respectively that were taken from Great Bear Lake.
Sorry guys but you really missed the mark on this one, because it’s not about setting records, it’s all about the health and survival of these magnificent fish – or it should be.
The worst possible thing anyone can use to catch big lake trout on Great Bear Lake, or for that matter any other cold, infertile lake where the trout grow very, very slowly and live to a ripe old age, is light line.
Using light line, which in all likelihood will be paired with relatively light tackle, is going to result in a much longer fight, thereby placing enormous stress on these “ancient “ fish for a prolonged period of time, with the result that the fish is unlikely to survive the ordeal.
The use of heavy tackle is a must, because the key to the fish’s ultimate survival is the ability to get it to the boat as fast as possible, where it can then be quickly and safely released.
On the plus side, both of the authors are enthusiastic, experienced lake trout fisherman who clearly have a real passion for forktails, and to their credit, they have taken the time to produce one of the few books that focuses exclusively on this fish.
Included in the chapter Mackinaw Methods, are several good pieces on the effectiveness of trolling, and other methods and techniques used to catch forktails, including sections on fly and ice fishing.
In addition, there are some interesting interviews and commentary by a number of seasoned forktail anglers, including some who have fished Great Bear Lake and other legendary lake trout waters throughout North America.
If you are an experienced lake trout fisherman I wouldn’t recommend rushing right out and buying a copy of this book, but on the other hand, if you’re contemplating taking up the pursuit of forktails for the first time, or planning that first fly in fishing adventure, there is some information you should find helpful.
As for the reason(s) why lake trout are perhaps North America’s greatest game fish – I guess I’m just going to have to figure that out for myself…