Fished Paxson last year with some friends and only caught small lakers. Fished Summit just after ice out and also caught nothing but small lakers. I wonder if these lakes have been overfished because of easy road access?
Did you catch good numbers of fish?
If you did it could a couple of things
1/ genetics (small by nature)
2/ Lack of forage in the lake.
There are lakes by me that are off the beaten path that hold really good populations of small lakers.
There are very few good sized trout in these lakes.
Our road accessible lakes have reduced limits (1 fish) and have been commercially netted in the past.
They produce fish but you need to work harder for them and they also tend to be on the smaller side.
There have been some large lakers caught outof Paxson; some within the last 10-15 years. I recall a youngster (a boy from N. Pole, if I recall correctly) catching a whopper that I think went about 47 lbs., though I may be mistaken in my recollection, too.
But Paxsom is also a relatively shallow mucky lake compared to many prolific lake trout lakes. It has clean clear water coming in and flowing out, but it's really a wide spot in the Gulkana River, moer or less, and if you've spent much time -in- it, you know it has lots of areas with leeches and muck. (Yuck!!)
Add to that the road-connectedness, the human nature of taking more than directed when a given population is in question, the rare encounter with enforcement personnel there, multiple camp areas in the immediate vicinity, and, voila', a diminished population remains.
In comparison, there are road-connected lakes in the Yukon Territory, deeper, colder, cleaner, rockier bottoms, etc., and absent any suburban populations numbering 100,000, let alone 300,000, within 200 miles or so, (and many folks not from around there not being aware of the size or number of fish in those lakes), they manage to support LOTS of 40"+ lake trout.
I suspect ALL of those variables matter a great deal in this case.
There are still good sized fish in a number of those lakes in that area (I've seen some). There is more than enough forage. I talked with F&G bios in pursuit of lakers in that area, and the biggest problem with a number of those lakes in that area was that they got hit HARD back in the pipline days, and are still recovering. Big lakers take a looooong time to grow in our cold waters! Most of the lakes in that area have populations that are doing well, they are still recovering though. Like I said though.....I have seen some pigs come out of that area! Summit is a huge lake, they are in there!
20 years ago or so I could stand at the edge of Paxson Lake at break-up, and though the fish frequently weren't very interested in bare, jigged spoons being offered in the narrow opening between the shore and the ice, I could see with my naked eye some very large lakers, and in -good- numbers in there, seeking the first open, easily accessible oxygen and insects of the year.
We'd take a canoe down there back then, and paddle around between shore and the ice.
I'd be willing to bet that Paxson doesn't support that number of larger fish today. I knew a fellow who trolled for lakers there as part of a F&G (temporary seasonal) job in the summer there about 15 years ago. He reported relatively scant fishing, though they did get fish. (I believe their official task was to troll and record the time/intervals between the fish they caught, size, etc. on a chart that F&G had issued to them; why I never encounter these sorts of 'jobs,' I don't know... Kinda' like a Canadian acquaintance who was hired by Parks Canada, I think, in the late 70s, tasked with hiking the Chilikoot Trail to photograph and catalogue the flora/wild flowers along that route, from the Alaska side, over through B.C., and into the Yukon Territory. And another friend who's a sometimes-miner who was hired by the Y.T. government to chart and catalogue mineral deposits across remote/rural locations in the Y.T. ... Some peoples' luck, I guess.. Getting paid for having fun, doing what many of us have had to -pay- in order to do..)
I've trolled Paxson with friends not too many years ago, and only caught a couple of fish over the course of half a day or so; no hogs.... just pan fish, thoughlarger than the ones in the IP's pic. We were using jointed diving Rapalas.... Often one of the better unbaited lures for that lake.
Likewise, I trolled Paxsom 2 years ago in my Grumman, with my two older kids, and caught nada.
Anyway, my hypothesis would be that there continues to be more and larger lakers in Summit than in Paxson these days. Summit gets some ice fishing traffic but lacks the larger campground, is much windier in both winter and summer, has deeper holes, etc.
I'd be curious to find out whether or not F&G has continued in the temporary research jobs I described earlier, and if their field folks have performed these tasks at both lakes, during the same years, thus potentially offering a more scientific comparison.
I fished the "soft " water from '93 to about 2000. I would camp at Paxon from ice out for 2 weeks. With the 14' cartop i found trolling the west side headed north was the best. Many times hooking and releasing a dozen fish in early morning or evening. All these were 20" and under. Then I started trolling a herring with a jet planer. Less fish but in the 6 to 10lb class.
I encountered the group F&G hired to test fish. They were somewhat secretive and didn't offer much advice.