LANDER – Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of good ice fishing opportunities in Louis Lake, which lies along the Loop Road in the Shoshone National Forest near Lander. Good ice fishing for Kokanee and splake (a hybrid between a male brook trout and a female lake trout) have existed in the last few years. Additionally, opportunities to catch trophy lake trout exist this winter.
In summer 2018, Game and Fish captured high numbers of large lake trout in Louis Lake. Ninety-two percent of the captured lake trout were > 4 lbs, and 24% were > 10 lbs. Attempts by anglers to catch the large lake trout throughout the summer were mostly unsuccessful. Anglers reported marking the large fish on sonar, but couldn’t get them to bite. The lack of success may have been attributed to warm summer water temperatures, in which the large fish are less active. Better chances of catching the large lake trout should exist in the winter.
The recent increase in lake trout size may have been caused by Kokanee stocking, which began in 2014. Kokanee are stocked to provide additional sport fishing opportunity but are also a preferred food item for lake trout. The high numbers of Kokanee stocked in Louis Lake (between 6,000 and 30,000 annually from 2014 – 2018) created a new food source, and likely increased lake trout growth rates over the past five years. A downside to the increase in large lake trout may be a decrease in splake numbers, which have been stocked since the late-1970s and are popular with Lander-area anglers. The splake catch rate in gill nets decreased by 80% from 2015 to 2018.
Anglers should note that the Loop Road is closed to automobile access in the winter, and can only be accessed by snowmobile when snow conditions allow.
Fisheries managers are interested in learning more about the age and growth of the large lake trout in Louis Lake. If an angler chooses to harvest a large lake trout from Louis Lake (> 24 inches), please bring the fish to the Lander Regional Office so that aging structures (i.e. otolith bones from the head) can be obtained. The heads of large harvested lake trout can also be frozen and brought in at a later date. Anglers are reminded that the daily creel and possession limit is six (6) lake trout, but only one (1) lake trout shall exceed twenty-four (24) inches.
Photo: Fisheries technicians hold large lake trout during sampling on Louis Lake in the summer 2018.