Lake trout prefer cold water, so they will go very deep to stay in the cooler waters. However, in the spring, anglers get to cast for lake trout in shallower water if they get out on the lakes early enough. Most of the better lake trout lakes are up north and many people won’t plan their trips early enough to experience the shallow water bite for lake trout. It will be similar to fishing for walleye early in the year. Break out the jigs, spinners and other minnow-imitating baits and target the rocky shorelines and bays. Lake trout won’t be in the shallows for long. As water temperatures warm into the mid to upper 50s, you’re going to see less and less of them in the shallows.
Once water temperatures warm up, lake trout will go deeper. They prefer water temperatures in the upper 40 to low 50s, so they are going to seek out this cooler water offshore in the main lake basin. They still have to eat, so they will move into shallower water to find bait fish if needed, but if there are plenty of bait fish deep, don’t expect to see them up shallow again until water temperatures drop again in the fall.
Once the fish go deep, break out the heavier jigs and trolling gear if you want to catch some lake trout.