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Fishing Crank Baits for Trophy Great Lakes Brown Trout

Brown Trout when first stocked in Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes feed on aquatic insects, crayfish and small bait fish. Once Brown Trout reach the size of several pounds they feed almost exclusively on forage fish and other trout including their own kind. Brown Trout that feed on other trout and small salmon are called cannibals. Brown trout are often nocturnal feeders, as many of the larger trout are caught during the low light conditions of dusk and dawn. Brown Trout spawn in the fall. They enter the tributary streams and rivers, harbors, and protected shoreline areas to spawn. Spawning brown trout are extremely territorial. The male brown trout will attack other male brown trout. To exploit this fact we like to use lures that resemble brown trout or are the color gold. After spawning the Brown Trout will stay in the general area for a few months before returning to the deeper offshore areas of the lake. Great Lakes Brown TroutTrophy Lake Michigan Brown Trout For casting crank baits for brown trout most fishermen use a spinning rod or noodle rod with a length of 8ft or 9ft. Attached to the spinning rod is usually a standard sized spinning reel that must have a good drag and hold about 250-300 yards of 8-12 pound test line. Using a super braid fishing line, like Berkley Fireline or Power Pro is critical to using crank baits for brown trout when long casts are made. The size of line varies from 6-10 pound test Berkley Fireline with 8 pound test being the most popular. The non-stretch properties and thin diameters allow longer casts and gives great hook setting ability at long distances. Remember that because there is virtually no line stretch with Fireline to set your reels drag lighter than normal, to allow the fish to run. Directly tied to the super braid fishing line is a good ball bearing snap swivel either a Sampo or Opti. Use either a Sampo size 1 or 2 or an Opti size 2x2 snap swivels. Using to large of a snap swivel will affect the action of the crank bait. Using crank baits to catch these large trophy Brown Trout is a deadly fishing technique. Older browns will not waste much energy chasing small lures. They are looking for a meal, not a snack. When targeting the true trophy Great Lakes brown trout in Lake Michigan crank baits are a preferred lure. There are several thousand crank baits on the market, listed below are what I consider the top crank baits that we have used when targeting trophy brown trout over the past few years.

The Rapala Long Cast Minnow:
Long Casting Minnow from Rapala has expanded the range of fishermen. The benefits of being able to cast long distances and work fish without spooking them is an advantage. The Rapala weight transfer system is unique, proprietary and patent-pending. It is been designed to make this lure long casting while maintaining excellent swimming action. In the process of casting and retrieving, the internal weights shift and lock in the desired position of the lure to maintain proper balance and action. The locking system also makes it possible to jerk the lure on retrieve without causing the weight to shift or move to the back of the lure, which would destroy the lures swimming action. The top brown trout color patterns have been: Brown Trout, Silver, Blue, and Perch. This lure has a very tight swimming action and only dives about 2 feet on extremely long casts, which make it a favorite when casting in shallow harbors.

The Rapala Husky Jerk:
The Rapala Husky Jerk bait has good swimming action and only dives about 2-3 feet on long casts. The gold metallic finish with a black back is a proven brown trout slayer. We prefer the size #10 4 inch or the size #12 4 1/2 inch only with the gold finish.

The Rapala Jointed Minnow:
The Rapala Jointed Floating minnow has the signature wounded minnow action that Rapala has perfected. The jointed Rapala can be fished extremely slow to trigger sluggish neutral fish to attack. We prefer the size #11 4 3/8 inch or the size #13 5 1/4 inch. The top producing brown trout color patterns: brown trout, gold, and gold with flourescent red.

The Rapala Floating Minnow:
The Rapala Floating minnow has the signature wounded minnow action that Rapala has perfected. The wounded minnow action is irresistible to fish. We prefer the size #11 4 3/8 inch or the size #13 5 1/4 inch. The top producing brown trout color patterns: brown trout, gold, and gold with flourescent red.


This fishing technique can be exciting. Large Brown Trout hit crank baits so hard they can almost yank the fishing rod out of your hands. Hold your fishing rod firmly. It is not uncommon for large brown trout to charge or follow your crank bait all the way to the pier or break wall. Several dozen times in the past few years large brown trout have followed my lure all the way back to the pier. When this happens, immediately put your rod tip into the water and start to perform a figure 8 motion for the lure, just like musky fishing. I have had several fish hit during the figure 8 motion, but have not yet landed one of these trout. If they hit try pointing the rod tip directly at the fish for its initial run. Then elevate the tip and gain control. If the fish immediately dives under the pier and gets tangled up on a piling there is not much you can do.

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