Lake Trout don’t get to be large fish by being picky. But the difference between landing the lunker Lake Trout and just a small one will depend on your understanding of their food preferences and what is popular for a given time of year.

Location, Location, Location

Trout are found all over the world from North America, to Europe and into Asia. They have even been introduced into New Zealand and Australia. With this wide distribution the food available to the Lake Trout varies greatly from place to place with only zooplankton being omnipresent. The food preferences mentioned are generalities. Where possible, we have pointed out exceptions.

Lake Trout Diet

Common Lake Trout foods are zooplankton, insect larvae, small crustaceans, clams, snails, leeches and juvenile fish including their own kind as well as prey fish.


Common fish in their diet include whitefish, grayling, sticklebacks, smelt and suckers. Arctic Lake Trout will go after suckers and sculpin.

What’s the best bait for Trout?

If you’re writing these down and taking note, you’re wasting your time. The key point to understand here is that they will feed on bait fish and other common fish found in their particular distribution. Find out from the local tackle shop or guide what the most popular fish is in abundance and that’s the best one to use.


If it’s spring and insects are all over the place and falling into the water, shift focus to whatever insect is the most popular at that time because that is what the Lake Trout are primed for.

  • Local guides have told us that the best way to catch Lake Trout on Lake Superior in the spring is using smelt. Fly fishing is also very successful at this time of year.

After spring the Lake Trout move deeper and only the most optimistic wet fly angler will be trying to fly fish for Lake Trout. Mayflies and beetles are another top bait for Lake Superior.


Generally whatever prey is in abundance for a given time of year, then that’s the food of focus for the Lake Trout. This line of thinking works for many other fish species as well like Largemouth Bass and various trout species.