7-31-14 – Spinning Walleye

I’ve put a lot of walleye in the boat the past couple of years fishing the Connecticut River and the tributaries of Lake Champlain jigging.  One thing we haven’t done a lot of is learning how to troll for them over large areas.  The opportunity arose to going trolling for walleye with a friend and I jumped at the chance to learn something new.

Our plan was to take an afternoon/evening trip to one of the few inland ponds in Vermont that has a sustainable walleye population.  I had never personally fished this pond before and my fishing buddy had only been on it a few times in the past having decent success.

The pond was great, one deep hole but lots of humps with weeds a top of them and rocky shores.  I wanted to learn how to run in-line planner boards with cranks so we set one board on either side with cranks and two lines out the back running spinners.

There is a lot more to trolling than just simply cruising around dragging baits behind the boat, especially for walleye and I quickly learned why.  Speed and boat depth control are very important to keep your baits at an effective depth.  A good sonar unit with a chartplotter is also an essential tool in catching roaming walleye.  We made several passes through our first spot and I missed a decent fish on the spinner.

Through conversation about good places to look for fish we made our way through a stretch that my buddy hadn’t fished before.  This particular spot was nothing more than a gradual inside turn pushing up to a rocky shore, I thought it looked like a fishy spot on Navionics.  While we made our first pass through the spot, we had our first fish on for the afternoon.  The 21” walleye came on a spinner tipped with a crawler.  Starting to think that the spinner bite was key, we switched over to running just spinners.  We had a quick bite to eat and motored over to another spot on a rocky hump.  While making our first pass, we started to mark a good number of fish laying on the bottom when we hooked into our second fish of the day. Another nice walleye, this one coming into the net at 22”.

As the sun went down and daylight faded, we decided to call it a day. A very productive day in my mind.  Some the best ways to learn something new is to just do it, it also helps to have good friends that are willing to share with you their knowledge.

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7-29-14 – Family Time

It had been a while since I had been on the water with my dad but with plenty of time to spare at camp while at our family week, we were able to get on the water. We began the day at sunrise with a very pitiful attempt at catching bass. Neither of us were sure why it was so slow but we figured that we would try to salvage the day with a night Hydro Glow session for trout.

With my mom, dad, girlfriend, and dog in the boat, we putted around the lake looking for fish on the graph. It didn’t take long to get over them so we anchored up, submerged the lights, and I explained how things would work. It is a pretty easy system and before putting the first marker on Mary’s line, we had missed a fish.

After we were all set up, we started picking at the bluegill. It wasn’t for a bit that a few trout made their way in the boat. The bites were very light and quick. I don’t remember any fish coming back for a second taste. Maybe they are accustomed to the glowing light or maybe things just slow down as the water warms.

By the end of the night, we had a few good rainbows to go on the smoker and released about a dozen bluegill. My mom didn’t fish but she kept us informed on where the fish were cruising through on the graph. It was fun to have them all out with me and they were happy to see what it was all about!

 

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7-23-14 – Lake Trout On Down Riggers

I went out with Captain Dan on the Lazy D & Me today with hopes of some lake trout. A wicked storm was rolling in after noon so we hoped things would happen early. With about 85 feet of water below us and plenty of fish laying right on bottom things were looking good.

Things started off pretty rough and only calmed down a little as the morning wore on. Most of out fish were caught on flatfish slow rolling the bottom around 1.8 mph. We managed to go 12 for 13 in the 5 hours we were out with several fish right around the 30″ mark.

The sky was hazy all day but we knew it was time to head home when the wind really picked up and started tossing the boat around enough to make fishing difficult.

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7-22-14 – At Least I Can Still Swim!

It was an interesting day to say the least. After a short morning of trolling boards, I headed to Champlain for some crappie, Launching my boat around 11 am, things were as usual. I had my gear loaded, unhitched, and had my rope clipped on to the bow with the excess rope secured in my tailgate ready to back in. Everything went as planned until I hit the water. As my boat started to float, I heard a loud pop and slowly watched my boat float away deeper and deeper into a dense mat of weeds.

Now in my defense, I hate swimming. I don’t go unless it is completely necessary. I actually contemplated waiting for another boat to come in to rescue me. I though for probably longer than most would have before stripping down and taking a plunge into the nastiest water I have every been in. It took me several tries to get in the boat but I made it work. It was a lot harder than I would have imagined! I spent the next few hours in my underwear drying off which lead to a wicked sunburn on my pasty legs.

Fortunately, after my hardships of the day, the fish were willing to bite. I ended up putting together a limit of nice fish over the next few hours with many throwbacks and some nice bass to boot. There wasn’t any color the fish would hit other than white. All my fish were caught on “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures and the crank bait was dead. With the warm water, it had to be moving slow.

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7-20-14 – 222

One week after a full moon = go crappie fishing. Everything about this trip seemed right leading up to it. Along with our buddy Mark, we loaded the boat around 8 am with plenty of snacks and drinks and headed back to southern lake Champlain. The theme of the day was “click it” on the counter, which is what we said each time we put a crappie in the boat.

The strategy for today was simple, fish structure.  It took us a little while to get dialed in but once we did it was pretty much non stop catching for the three of us.  While the plastic bite was good, the interesting part of this trip is that we figured out a little way to prolong the bite once the fish become conditioned.  We’ve seen plenty of shows and articles on trolling small crank baits for crappie but we tried our luck at casting them.

After the plastic bite tapered off at each spot, tossing a small crappie crank bait made by Arkie Jigs made the difference.  Being on the small side, we were able to rip the bait right along side and on top of the structure we were set up on with very few, if any snags.  They were also very useful when the fished decided to take a “lap” off the structure which crappie seem to randomly do.  The crank bait allowed us to locate the fish from a greater distance than a jig. While most colors worked, bright plastics and shiny cranks were the best bet.

We finished the day just shy of our goal of 238 with 222 crappie put in the boat and released.  A large majority of those fish being keepers.  It was refreshing to learn something new as it becomes easy to get stuck doing the tried and true over and over again.  Remember, next time you’re out on the try to switch it up every once in a while to put more fish in the boat.

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7-16-14 – Early Morning Limit

I was on the water for sunrise because I had to work at 8 pm and I wanted to bring home some fish for the freezer. It looked like it was going to be a beauty of a day and it was the first cool day after a warm stretch. The only thing lingering in my mind was whether or not the cold front would change the bite.

I had my buoy marker in the sweet spot in the dark and was catching fish within only two casts. While not every fish was a keeper, probably every third was. I should mention most of the fish were of legal size though. It took me 82 fish to complete my limit but it didn’t stop there. I spent the rest of the day looking for new spots many of which were loaded with fish.

By 8 am I was throwing back 12″ crappie. Every spot I hit produced similar sized crappie. Nothing huge but some were pushing 14″. I ended up putting another dozen quality spots on my graph for future trips. The fish were hungry but many were biting as soon as my “Live” Baby Shad hit the bottom. Many of the fish I caught actually had mud sticking to their bellies.

With the warm water from the last few days, the fish wanted the jig moving extra slow so mainly I was running a 1/16 ounce jig even when the wind picked up. After a little more than eight hours of catching fish, I headed for home. I ended up the day with 237 crappie on the clicker. Not too bad of a day!

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7-13-14 – Mystery Lake

Who doesn’t like exploring a new lake? Well on a hot Sunday that was the plan. Crappie were the target and outside of that, we had no idea what the lake would fish like.

I met my buddy Andy at sunrise and we launched the boat shortly after. We started off scanning the bottom with the side imaging. It is a big lake so exploring seemed like the best idea.

We located several sunken trees that were completely vacant of fish. Then we checked out a rocky shoreline thinking that a “bass” pattern might work. Nope. Just rockbass and lots of them! As we worked off the rocky shoreline, a warden approached us. We had a short chat and he told us that they were there but not many people catch them on purpose. Lakes like this can be great because you will have them to yourself but at the same time locating and staying on them year around is a big chore.

We fished just about every type of habit the lake had to offer and we covered about a third of the lake with side imaging. At the end of the day we had nothing great to show for other than checking of a new species on the bucket list. Redbreast sunfish. We caught a lot of them.

While we didn’t complete out goal, we marked some weedbeds on our Navionics for a potential winter trip.

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