by T.J. Dimke
Any freshwater angler who has had the incredible opportunity to fish for lake trout in the remote area of Clearwater Bay, located on the Canadian side of Lake of The Woods, can agree that lake trout are one of the most powerful fish found in fresh water. Their deep, dark, and cold water habitat make them a challenge for most fishermen, but make them that much more exciting to fish for. Clearwater bay provides an ideal environment for lake trout due to the ideal structure found in the lakebed. The bay can reach depths of 150-180 ft, which provides cold dark pockets (40-50 degrees F) for large schools of lake trout to slowly patrol the water, conserving great amounts of energy. Because of the lack of nutrients in these great depths, the trout are forced to move into shallow warmer waters (50-80 ft and 50-60 degrees F) that are found closer to shore where they patrol the sediment covered lake floor for food.
Clearwater Bay has become a well known area for lake trout are among anglers, and lake trout populations have been depleted significantly. Because of this the Ontario Game and Fish Department was obligated to enforce a catch and release only law specifically for lake trout in Clearwater Bay. This has caused much debate among both Canadian and American fishermen. Some think that the trout populations are healthy enough to be able to removed from the lake upon a legal catch, while others think that targeting lake trout fishing at all (even if they are intended to be released) should be illegal all together.
The fact is that lake trout as a species take the most pristine environment to grow. They need very clean, dark, large, and cold bodies of water with large amounts of nutrients. They also take a much longer time to reach maturity compared to other species of fish, some taking up to 20 years. Clearwater Bay has arguably the best environment to grow big lake trout in the entire 1,700 sq ft lake, which is why a great deal of fisherman believe the trout there should be protected against over fishing. If the trout in Clearwater Bay have a period of time where they can grow at their own pace without interference from fishermen, experts say that Lake of The Woods will have some of the largest lake trout found in all of North America.

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