Although there is still fishable ice on several ponds and lakes that I frequent, knowing that Lake Champlain was only a day away or so from blowing out, it wasn’t a hard decision on where to go. Plus, fishing with company beats fishing late ice alone! If I had been out alone in similar conditions there is a good chance I would have gone home real quick! We experienced sun, clouds, rain, sleet, and wind. Not ideal conditions for fishing!
I met up with a buddy in Richmond to carpool at 5:30am. We were at the spot by 6:30 and fishing shortly after. The fishing started fairly quick with a mix of mostly pumpkinseed and bluegill but there were a few keeper crappie mixed in! It didn’t take long for disappointment to kick in… The fishing slowed quickly. I wouldn’t say they shut off but you would have been hard-pressed to catch more than 2-3 out of a single hole that held fish. It seemed like they learned quick what not to eat! I ended up switching just a lot looking for what was working. The best combo I found all day was an orange vertical jig tipped with three spikes.
Throughout the day, we made two big moves from the starting point. The first was north towards a swamp thinking that they were staging up for the spawn. At first the move seemed good. We caught fish after fish for about 30 minutes but the glory was short lived. The fish disappeared and were no where to be found. We returned to the starting point and being that it was around 2pm, we decided to make another move back towards the car.
On the way over to the last spot, I checked every hole that was open with my Aqua Vu
underwater camera. I only saw two fish. Both northerns! I figured we were going home early… My buddy and I talked about where or if we should make another series of holes. It was a good thing we did because we found decent fish! We punched six holes total. I checked two holes and in the third I think our conversation went something like “any fish?” and my response was “umm… yup. a few pumpkinseed. I mean a lot of seeds… and a ton of bluegill, and bass, and CRAAPPPIIIEEE! Get your vex and jig stick!” Wouldn’t you know it, first drop, my buddy pulls a thick 12″ crappie!
We fished for another two hours and punched lots of holes that yielded lots of fish. It was a good end to a day that threw us quite a few curve balls. We worked hard for our fish and as we punched the last of our holes you could see that the ice was very close to being done. We were pulling out huge chunks of shattered ice coming from the bottom layer and kicking off an easy 5″ of honeycombed ice on top. With a total of 10″ of ice that didn’t leave much room for quality ice between.
Lake Champlain was good to me this year. Is it December yet! I miss it already!
I fished Lake Champlain on Monday from 7am until 4:30. The weather was picture perfect as long as you don’t mind the ice melting! There was little to no wind and it was sunny. I ended up fishing the afternoon in just a long sleeve shirt. Most of the other guys on the ice with me took their fishing suits off it was so nice!
The fishing was quick at times and slow at others. The bite at first light was apparently better than any other time throughout the day and wouldn’t you know it, I missed it! The fish didn’t move far all the day. We spent most of our time spread out over small area but at times we reached out when the fish were not active looking for where they went. At these times, I would walk around with my Aqua Vu Micro underwater camera and search. I found that the fish didn’t go anywhere… They were either suspended just below the ice or sitting right close to the bottom and not moving.
I wouldn’t say we struggled to catch fish but it certainly was not the best day on Lake Champlain. I was able to pull some nice crappie that were pretty spaced out throughout the day but little chips were frequent in most holes and everywhere on the camera. It seemed like they were more lethargic than normal whenever I would see a decent sized fish.
The best color today was anything heavily colored in green. I tried both horizontal and vertical with similar success but stuck it out with the vertical. I find myself getting better hook ups when I am fishing fast. I switched out many times throughout the day from maggots to plastics and both worked. I had good luck using the Mini Draggi by Maki Plastics in white or two spikes!
I got on the water at 6am and it was snowing sideways. I punched out a weed bed on an inland pond that had held fish the week before and got set up for the day. As soon as the dark started to fade, the panfish started coming out of the weeds. For 45 minutes, the bluegill came as fast as I could get down. They were suspending above the weeds at varying depths depending on how tall the weeds were. It ranged from 6″ to 4 feet below the ice. Once the sun was completely up, the fish slowed but were still cruising in less concentrated corridors. They began to go down into the weeds to settle for the day around 9am. At this point, we began moving around more searching out fish in the weeds. The bite was pretty bad at this point so we made a big move to the other side of the lake after an hour of limited success.
The second spot we hit held larger numbers of fish so we stayed for a few hours. The bluegill were half in the thick weeds and half right at the surface of the weeds waiting for a passing meal. The pumpkinseed seemed to be hanging deeper in the weeds and far less active. It seemed like for the fish that were in the weeds, the harder that I pounded a jig the more fish I caught. They were very active but because of the dense weeds, the fish didn’t come in large pods as they were basically staying put. After struggling to catch fish for too long, I decided to head back over to where we began the morning.
Because I had been fishing this weed bed quite a bit lately, I had a good idea of what holes would produce. I have dropped my Aqua Vu camera down most of the holes at least once now and have identified certain holes that have openings in the weed canopy. As soon as I started fishing, I was catching fish. I caught over 25 fish, mostly pumpkinseed, between the first two holes I kicked open. I called the troops over thinking that I was on a good bite!
I continued to catch decent numbers of fish but not great. For two hours we all made rounds in the holes from the morning session. The fishing was slow and lots of bass were swimming around below us. Around 5pm, there was only two of us that were the only one still motivated to stay in hopes of a night bite. As the group of guys were walking off the ice after calling it quits, the fishing picked up. My buddy and I caught good numbers of fish for another 20 minutes then he had to head out for some family time. I stayed in a cluster of 5 holes until dark and pounded on them. The evening bite has been really good at this spot. The smaller fish disappear for the night and every gill that comes out of the hole seems to be over 8″.
I cant wait to get back on this spot again! The fishing has been top notch!
We got a late start today but that turned out to be not a bad thing. We were on the water just after 7:30am and quickly punched holes around a few spots that have been producing on Lake Champlain. We were fishing for three hours and only caught a handful of bluegill, pumpkinseed, and two dink crappie. Frustrated, we packed up and headed to a the other side of the bay.
When we got over there, we punched holes and looked around with the Aqua Vu Micro underwater camera. We found lots of perch but only two pumpkinseed. We caught a few of the perch and headed further out in the bay to a different weed bed. The same scenario played out there so we moved yet again. We decided to fish one more weed bed before heading out for the day. By the looks on the flasher there were some fish to be had so we gave it a shot. We caught lots of fish there but they were all small. It was time to call it a day.
Before heading out, we had to meet up with a guy in Burlington. While waiting, we met up with another buddy who got out of work to fish. Somehow, he convinced us to go back to the same spot we just left. This time was a little better but not great still. There were lots of small fish in every hole but towards dark they grew in size and there were some really nice bluegill cruising high in the water column.
No pictures worthy of posting today and overall it was a disappointing day. Luckily, tomorrow is a new opportunity on very productive water! I’ll be there at sunrise to punch holes and find the fish (hopefully) while awaiting my company for the day!
I didn’t get on the ice today until 1:30pm. I knew with the storm coming that I didn’t have much time before the roads got slick. A group of us are headed to this inland pond in the morning so I wanted to get a good scouting report. We have been catching bluegill very consistently but we wanted to expand our fishing zone and search out fish that have yet to be pressured this season. All I can say is it was a success!
When I got to the spot there was an eagle eating some fish remains. This bird was there last trip as well so I tried the best I could to get a decent picture. I will bring my nice camera tomorrow and try to get a better shot if it comes around!
I punched a series of holes where I guessed the fish would be. I dropped my Aqua Vu camera down the hole and got excited for a minute. There were tons and tons of fish! Unfortunately, they were all shiners. I took a quick video that is not great quality but it shows the abundance of them that I saw throughout many of the holes today!
It took only three holes to find some bluegill and it was on. Fish after fish, I probably pulled 35 – 8-9″ gills out of the first hole. I didn’t want to educate all the fish today so I moved on. For the next 45 minutes I couldn’t do anything wrong. The fish liked every color I tried bait or no bait. I thought to myself, I must be crazy to leave but I want to go find more fish! I packed up and headed down the lake to a different spot.
When I got to the fresh weed bed I didn’t find anything but 10″ holes so I knew If there were fish I could get them. I punched holes in a large area pretty well spread out. The water was deeper than I wanted but I was marking fish so I dropped down. I quickly got the interest of a fish. It was a bass. I thought it was fun having them tear the line off my reel so I hopped around and caught several others ranging between 12-17″. They were super aggressive compared to others that I have caught this season. After a few of them I decided I should get back to my mission.
I moved in closer to shore from where I was getting the bass and I found good bluegill. The depth ranged from 3-10″ with very little weeds in the majority of the holes. This was also where I got most of my big gills. I caught one gill that was 10 3/4″ but the picture didn’t save on my camera unfortunately. The one pictured below was 10 1/4″ so it still a hog. Tomorrow, if we can find the fish, we will get some better pictures!
I fished Lake Champlain today for just over six hours. I got out on the water at 6am and punched all my holes before the sun came up but the fish didn’t start biting until it was light out. The first bunch of fish I caught were all bluegill and then a decent bass. It took a while to catch a crappie and when I did it was a disappointment. At the first spot of the day I caught three total and 2 of the them were short. The one that could have been a keeper was just over 8″. After a while with only a few fish, we decided to pack it up and head south a few bays. This was unfortunate too because you could see them when using the Aqua Vu underwater camera
When we got to the second bay, we headed for where I fished on it the day before. We quickly whacked two crappie then went dry for a bit. Although all of us were pulling fish in most holes the fishing was slow. We kept punching holes and moving around the spot where we had been having luck. Eventually, we got on a few spots where there were better numbers of bluegill and pumpkinseed. The majority of what we caught all day weren’t huge but good sized eaters none the less. I had to head out earlier than I usually would to get to work. I was on the road at 1pm and disappointed with my day but it was still great to be out!
I hope that the fishing turns on before all the ice is gone! When I left there was quite a bit of water puddling up on top of the ice but there were people driving full sized trucks out. Should be a while yet (I hope)!
Thought it was going to be a crappie up until it made its first run!
Had a decent hole on a slow day
A decent seed pulled mid day
Two nice fish at the end of the day.
Went out for day number two of sight fishing for bluegill and pumpkinseed around 6am on an inland pond. First thing, the bite was on. Fish were suspended over the weeds in every hole. There were plenty of small fish mixed in with a few larger ones. I fished until they shut off around 9 and only the pickerel, pike, and bass seemed to be interested in any jig I tried. At this point I had been bit off by 6 pickerel/pike so I wasn’t too thrilled about fishing for them so I grabbed my camera and started scouting. I cut holes in both directions along the weed bed parallel with shore. The results proved to be no different so I cut shallower and deeper.
These new holes held fish because I could see them using my Aqua Vu underwater camera but they were tucked into the ones that had the thickest weeds. I decided I should at least try to punch through them to get after the fish. I only found two holes that I was able to get through but they were productive. I caught 5 nice keepers between the two. I kept looking for holes that held fish. Although many did, it was practically impossible to get through to them. I kept returning to the two holes that I was able to fish but production slowed as the fish were fairly inactive. Around noon the fish started to move around below the weed line and I started catching them a bit more regularly but still slow.
Right around the time the fish started to move I had a buddy show up. We talked for a bit, ate lunch, watched an eagle eat some fish that people had left on the ice earlier in the day, then got back to fishing. It was around 1:3opm when the fish started to come out of the weed bed in search of food. We both started pulling them pretty good at this point. There were a few holes that fell into “the honey hole” category so it felt good to have go to spots rather than keep fishing dead holes.
The best hole we had was completely different from the others that produced. The weeds were alive and low, about 1.5 feet high, and had no dead weeds floating above them. The other hot holes were completely filled with dead weeds that floated back and forth the entire time with alive weeds below them. Obviously, the clean hole was pure sight fishing especially when the Clam flip over was used to dark everything out. The other holes were a bit tougher to fish. Sight fishing was not possible for the most part. I found a good rhythm for fishing them after a bit of experimentation. Because the dead weeds swayed back and forth I constantly got tangled up in them and my jig would get covered in slime. I learned to fish up and down the water column and only drop down into the weeds when an opening was made in the top layer of weeds. I found that most hits came when dropped after a long pause of waiting for the weeds to move.
Ended up quitting for the day just before 6pm. It was a long day on the ice but it was a very good one to be out there. The fishing slowed as the sun set below the trees so we didn’t feel the need to stick around and waste time. After packing up, we made the long walk back to the car and headed home to get prepared for another day on the ice tomorrow!
Come back tomorrow for another report!
Hit the ice this morning bright and early looking to catch some crappies. We found them in decent numbers but they were all tiny. Managed maybe a dozen over 8″ out of the 51 that I iced. I kept just enough for a meal. There were lots of shiners and a few seeds mixed in today so it was frustrating. After 2.5 hours on the ice we called it quits and headed south.
The next stop planned for the day was suppose to be the last. It didn’t work out that way though… The fishing was slow. After punching a bunch of holes we quickly realized that the only fish in the weed bed were tiny bluegill and pickerel. We cut out several other spots around the lake and were at a loss for a good idea after coming up empty. Past years and summertime fishing have had completely different results on that lake! We decided to head even further south in search of some good bluegill.
I have been trying to avoid this inland pond because it has been real slow. When I got out on the water there were no fresh holes where we started so my hopes weren’t high. My buddy was punching holes while I followed with the Aqua Vu underwater camera. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that every hole held fish! We quickly started fishing and had no problems staying on them for the remainder of the day. The best part of the afternoon was the crystal clear water. We were sight fishing in 7 feet of water. The depth we found fish at varied but it seems consistent to drop down around 4 feet before you would see one come in. They came as quick as we could pull them. Lots of the bluegill were in the 8-9″ range and a few larger. Every time I saw a bass come in I tried to take my jig out to keep from catching them. Unfortunately, I realized some of the “bass” were rockbass after catching one… One of the fish I really wanted to catch!
Tomorrow I will be going back to redeem myself for letting all those rockies get by! Stay tuned!
The last two days I fished on Lake Champlain. The weather was amazing and it was great to be out there. I may have even gotten a tan! The bite was slower than it had been but I still did quite well. There were some quality pumpkinseed and plenty of hungry perch below me. I managed to ice two decent crappie and lost a real nice one due to equipment malfunctions!
Yesterday, I fished from 12 until 5. I was using the same set up presented in my 2-15 post. As a reminder, that was a chartreuse/orange tungsten jig tipped with a pink or red polli by Maki Plastic and a maggot. The fish were hitting it just as well as anything else that I could find so I went with it. I like tungsten because it sinks so quick… It gets me back in the action fast. The biggest issue I find with it is that it is hard to fish smoothly. The best way to counteract this is to use a spring bobber as it slows the jigging action enough to have it entice the fish. I ended up catching a bunch of pumpkinseed, a few bigger bluegill, and a loner 9″ crappie.
Today, I got on the ice shortly before 6am. The fishing was slow until it was light out but it was a nice calm morning with no wind. Once the fish started biting it was good for quite a while. Whenever it did slow, I would use my Aqua Vu camera to find a hole where there were fish and try to catch them. Mid day, we had holes spread out quite a ways. Whenever the fish would disappear it seemed like you would find more on the far end. I put on some miles today!
As for the big crappie that I lost today it was a disappointment! I was sight fishing in 9 feet of water. I checked my Vexilar and saw a fish coming in so I quickly looked back down into the hole. As soon as I found my jig, I watched it disappear so I started to raise my rod. I saw a flash from a fish mouth so I set the hook. I felt the weight of the fish and it rolled sideways so I had a clear view of the whole thing. It was the biggest crappie I’ve ever seen! As I raised it to about the 3 foot mark I felt the tension release and the fish swam away. Upon inspection of my jig I realized the hook had straightened out. I guess that’s what keeps me excited to get out every day!
Headed out tomorrow morning bright and early to the glory hole to see how things are going. Its been a while since I’ve been there. Not sure what the plan is for the afternoon but I’ll be on the water somewhere!
Headed south on Lake Champlain first thing this morning. I had never been to the area before but was planning to meet up with some buddies. I used Navionics on my phone to put myself on a 6-7′ depth contour and started to get set up for the day. After punching a bunch of holes and going around with my Aqua Vu camera I only saw two fish… Great start right? Right… Luckily, I got company shortly after! We fished through the bay and found nothing promising so we packed it up and headed a few bays north.
When we got to the next bay, we quickly started catching fish. Unfortunately, the majority of the fish we caught were very small. We did find a few slab perch and I managed to catch the smallest bluegill I have ever hooked! I couldn’t take a picture of it because it was so small… Just kidding. I didn’t want to take the time because I had more fish on the screen! Just a few drops later I caught the smallest pumpkinseed I have ever caught! Needless to say, we didn’t stick around there too long. Once again, we packed up but this time drove a little over an hour north.
The third and final stop of the day proved to be the most productive. We fished it until it was almost dark then left because the bite quickly slowed. At this spot, we caught some really nice pumpkinseed. Fishing shallower water we caught bluegill. On my very last drop of the night I caught an 8″ crappie.
Overall, it was a good day. I fished two spots that I had never been to before. I will be heading back to where I finished out the night to make an attempt at sight fishing crappies at daybreak! Stay tuned!