After a morning dedicated to turkeys and our mothers, it was off with the boat to the water we went. With hopes that the crappie were still spawning and some decent bluegill would bite, there was nothing left to do but try it!
Upon our arrival, we saw a few kayaks and one canoe out on the water. The wind was strong and brisk. The skies were dark but it wasn’t raining but it looked like it would. After launching the boat, we realized that our main issue for the day would be dealing with the wind. The worst wind we could have was anything out of the south,south east and yup, you guessed it, that is exactly where it was coming out of.
We were fishing “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures under a bobber. Last time we had fished this particular spot we found that the crappies were scattered through out the channel at the back most part of the setback. We decided that we would work our way to that spot fishing a few tress along shore on the way thinking maybe they had began to seek out their cover and shade. A major difference between today and the last time we were here were the weeds. It had been a few weeks and with unseasonably warm weather for the end of April and beginning of May the weeds had really started to grow, some already reaching the surface on the large flats.
Like we said before the wind was a major factor even for the 16.25 foot Lund. The first hour was slow but we did manage to catch a few small male crappie that were tucked right up on shore. After fishing the shoreline with little success, we made our way for the channel where the fish were holding weeks ago. We used the recent weed growth to our advantage, fishing the edges with a little more line under our bobbers. This pattern payed off as we were able to land several nice spawning colored males. The fish were still scattered through out the channel but seemed to be concentrated in one specific area. We worked our way through the channel making long casts, working the weed edge and the shoreline. We did find some bull gills tucked into shore which made for a nice battle on our ultra light setup.
When the wind would die down we found pockets of fish that were busting the surface. With all the activity, we knew that we had to inspect and see what was going on. Drifting over these areas revealed hundreds of beds. The fish would dart out leaving us only mud clouds. From a distance we started pitching baits. We found out that they were all spawning pumpkinseed. Only when the wind was slightly blowing could we catch them though. They were very spooky!
Our timing may have been a little off for the species we intented to target. The conditions were certainly not ideal, but we manged to have a successful day and capture some great photos.
After an unsuccessful trip to the river to check on the walleye and crappie, we decided that we weren’t going to fish a day and be skunked. To put a fish in the boat, we hit a small lake on our way back through with hopes of hooking into a few bass and maybe some perch. Not being prepared for either it was certainty going to be an interesting trip.
We arrived to the lake a little after 5 pm and were greeted by water temperatures in the mid 60′s. Our first hour was to be spent on catching a few bass. With not much too choose from as far as tackle goes, I decided to leave my half ounce black jig head on and grabbed a black 4″ senko from the bag. We made a quick run to one of my favorite smallmouth bass spots hoping to catch a few off beds. The early years of my fishing experiences was spent tearing this lake apart in search of both species of bass. I felt pretty confident that we would find a few to avoid the skunk. The lake is a huge bowl with very few contour breaks, a larger basin in the middle and pockets of milfoil which provides the bass with good cover.
The first spot was not able to produce even a bite so we made another quick run. The second spot, unlike the first, was geared towards targeting weeds and weed edges. I like to fish the weed edges that drop off into deeper water. They always seem to produce fish. Unlike most, I fish these edges a little different. I like to make my cast parallel to the edges and retrieve along side of them instead of casting into the weeds and pulling through them. I usually will run into a few that are lurking on the weed edge ambushing their prey. A few casts into the second spot, I was able to hook into a cute little pounder. it was not a smallmouth but instead a largemouth.
This lake is more about specific bait placement as it is bait selection. My ability to catch fish on this day was a product of no trick, it was knowing the lake and how the fish acted. Years of practice on this body of water helped me to put a few decent bass in the boat on our short trip. Moral of the story; pay close attention to when, where and how you caught a fish. I remember when I figured this pattern out on this lake by pure accident, but now I know a sure way to produce a bite. You too can learn these patterns with close observation.
The first Saturday in May brings Vermonters to the opening day of walleye season. Many hold this day right up there with the opening day of deer season with the level of excitement they share. I arrived to the river a met up with a buddy who picked me up on the bank. As I stood there waiting, I saw that it was going to be a busy day. From what I could see, there was already 50-75 boats fishing one small stretch of the river north of the mouth. I loaded up my things and we made a short run to our first spot.
The weather was fantastic. Blue skies and warm, this was a treat since we have spent many openers in our Clam “blue suits” with spitting snow. Our technique was simple. Small lead jigs, 1/4-1/2 ounce, tipped with a fathead minnow. The presentation is nothing more than a lift/fall. As soon as the jig hits the bottom you jig again, and repeat. We made our first pass and within 5 minutes I was hooked up. Now when these fish hit you think you’ve hooked bottom. Very rarely do you actually feel a bite, most of the time you’ll feel weight with and immediate head shake. After my buddy scrambled for the net we managed to boat a nice 27″ walleye that weighed in around 7lbs. Great way to start the morning. I put on a fresh minnow and went back to my cadenced jigging. Two more passes later I hooked up again, seems like I’ve got a pattern going. I was the only one in the boat that was using a simple chartreuse jig, the color might have been the factor but the weight was more significant. The jig I was using was much heavier than the two other jigs being used in the boat. This gave me an advantage. There was no reason for me to be using this heavy of a jig other than it was already tied on from fishing the Connecticut River from shore in fast water. The extra added weight have my presentation a little more clack when the jig made contact with the bottom or structure. Also was producing a larger dust cloud when coming in contact with the bottom which also helped with attracting the spooked post spawn walleye.
After a few more passes with no luck we made a move to our next spot. This next spot would be a little more tricky to fish as it has much more structure, i.e. logs to fish around and not get snag on. On our second pass I was able to hook up yet again. The third and final fish of the day was the smallest of the three but still a very respectable 26″ fish. That was my limit. All in all it was a successful morning for me. I spent a little over two hours on the river and fared well. Maybe the color and weight of the jig made my day more successful but either way, the fishing produced and I got to spend time on the water with friends.
The crappie spawn in Lake Champlain is a fantastic time to catch a lot of fish. Some years it’s very predictable and others not. It can start and last a couple of weeks or it can start and stop, then start back up again. The second scenario seemed to be the case this year. Our last trip was devoted to the big lake with hopes of catching that perfect water temperature where crappies begin their spring ritual.
We arrived at the lake a little late due to the fact that we forgot the graph at home while still in town and we figured it might be a good thing to have. We headed for our first spot and arrived to find water temperatures in the upper 50′s. With a blue bird day ahead, we knew the water would soon be pushing into the 60′s. We made our way back into a shallow cut that had produced fish in recent days. Using a small jig under a bobber tipped with a “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures, we began searching for fish. It didn’t take long to find a small brush point that seemed to be holding some fish.
We where getting bite after bite which unfortunately was producing miss after miss. The crappie would take the bobber all the way under, we would set the hook. . . . . nothing. We started playing with bait color and style until we found a bait that at least the fish would hold on to long enough to hook a few of them. From what we could tell, we ran into a bit of a timing issue. The fish were there in large numbers, however, the water temperature was causing them to think less on feeding and more on spawning.
We struggled through the first half of the day and only managed 11 keepers as we were throwing back the bigger fish which were the egg stuffed females. By noon, we decided to check some other places with hopes that the fish might be more aggressive. Up the lake we ran and were greeted by a few of our buddies. They too had struggled in the morning hours and were not on the fish. We anchored near their boat to catch up and wait the fish out which ultimately worked out. With a bunch of lines crossing the area, we found a pod of fish staging up right at the mouth in the channel. Cast after cast produced not only crappie but largemouth bass and bullhead as well.
The fish moved through in small runs where we would catch 4,5 or 6 fish at a time. After a bunch of runs, we endured a long stretch without as much as a bite. We decided to check on some other spots had produced in recent days. We checked a handful of spots and covered close to 8 miles of the lake. We found no other areas to be productive so we returned to where we started the day. Since we had left a few hours earlier the water temperature had stabilized at 66.4 and in the short time we spent in there it dropped a few tenths. Lots of bait fish were busting the surface as there was a big hatch occurring. Along with the bait, there was quite a bit of predator activity chasing. With the crappie focusing on their spawn rather than biting, we parted ways and met back up with our buddies.
The fish were still cruising the channel so we anchored back up and got to catching. We fished for another 1.5 hours before realizing how late it was and that we should head home. The day was tough and certainly not steady but we caught some big fish as well as took home a few meals. Can it get much better than that?!?!
The temperature this week hasn’t cooperated with us. It seems like we are always a day behind the bite with our choice of locations this week. We like to that we are a day ahead though as the bites have alternated days regardless of weather… This morning, the weather said it was suppose to get into the high 50′s with little to no clouds or wind. In reality, it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
On the water just before 8, the morning air was still cool. The water was just under 48 and only rose one degree all day where the fish were holding. We made a long run trying to locate fish only to find 51 degree water void of fish. Still with the cold in the air, we ran back. On the way we took a break to warm up and watch an eagle sitting in a tree.
The rest of the day we putted around and located fish occasionally with no consistency. All the fish that we did find were set up on a shallow island, covered in decaying weeds. We were working a Lake Fork Trophy Lure “Live” Baby Shad 2-3 feet under a bobber at a slow pace. We used pearl and fire perch with equal success.
There isn’t much to say about this day. It seemed like all forward progress to the spawn this week was lost but it is only a matter of time until the water warms up enough for things to really start happening!
Check out the last picture to see the feeding frenzy!
With temps in the low 20′s, we weren’t rushing out the door this morning. We knew the bite wouldn’t pick up until the water temperature did. We were guessing on the way down that the water would be between 47 and 48 because of the recent weather. Today, it was suppose to warm up but wearing our blue suits from Ice Armor was still a good idea.
After launching the boat and letting the transducer adjust to the water temperature, our guess of 47-48 degrees was a little low. It was actually hovering at 46. For much of the morning, the fish were inactive. It took a while for us to catch a fish and even longer to stay put in one spot that held multiple. We did see that as the water warmed the fish became more active.
At first, the bites were very light. The fish weren’t committing and getting hook ups proved very difficult. As the water warmed the bites came more frequently and much harder. We found one sweet spot as the water temperature peaked. There was a warm pocket of water pushed up in a corner. It was 54 and we were sitting in 52. As we would work our baits from shore back towards the boat, we found that the crappie were stacked up on the edge of an isolated weed patch. They were hanging 2-3 feet down in 8 feet of water.
This bite lasted for a while but we found that it was spotty. We were only able to catch a handful of fish at a time before they would stop biting. The best method we found was to back out after catching a few and then return after checking other spots then to get back in quietly. We could tell the fish were aggressive by the way that our bobbers went down. There was no slow and steady pull. Instead, it was a fast pull and run with no problems with hookups.
The crappie bite only lasted for a little over an hour before shutting off. Fortunately for us, the bluegill finally had woken up and were active. For these, we set our bobbers a little higher and fished in shallower water, in the weeds, and closer to the bottom. Most bites came as soon as a cast hit the water but if not they wanted it moving slowly.
We used three baits today. Because the water was cold, the fish were mostly inactive. We used our go to plastic the “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures. This bait produced some slabs but also quite a few short strikes. For crappie, the best bait was a 1″ Gulp! Minnow. For bluegill, the top producing weight was the old faithful worm. Sometimes live bait just outproduces everything else!
After a last ditch effort to catch walleye from shore, and longbeards strutting in front of my truck, I decided to salvage the day and fish a small but usually productive setback from shore. The water was high and flowing out of the setback which usually means a bad bite from our experience. I tried the riverside opening with no success and a fast moving bobber in the current.
I worked my way up the shoreline with the wind at my back. I was hoping that the wind blew all the warm surface water up into the sheltered end of the cut. When I was almost to the sheltered end, I caught my first bluegill. It was also the smallest fish of the day! From my vantage point, I could see the shore the wind was blowing against had fish popping. It appeared that the fish were holding in a very small area maybe the size of twin sized mattress
I kept working my way around the shore line, paralleling where the fish were. From here, I had two thick weed patches that when I hit it right, would catch a fish every time. If I could cast past the weeds and drag it directly between the two patches, they would bite. When I had success, I was throwing a 1/16 ounce pink jig head with a gulp 1″ minnow under a bobber. I tried using larger baits first but these fish were looking for something specific. Also the water was still cold so offering these fish a slow moving, small bite enticed them even more.
For a while, the wind helped but eventually it brought the demise of the stellar bite. The fish scatted because the wind continued to blow cooler water in.. I stayed for another half hour, fanning my casts over the entire area. Unfortunately, the fish were done biting and the water had significantly cooled.
Moral of the story- pay attention to the wind, sun, and calm water… It can heavily dictate the amount of your success of failure.
After seeing the walleye and other action that Bobby had last night, I couldn’t resist going to give it a shot myself. I figured I would get there early because the bluebird day would shut the bite off early. Having never been there, finding the sweet spot too a bit. As it turned out, I didn’t successfully land any fish there but I had a little action.
Learning to differentiate the difference between a rough bottom and current compared to a bite took a bit. I had a few instances where I thought I had a bite but wasn’t positive. Pulling my jig from the water my worm would be gone leaving me to believe that It was a fish. It wasn’t until I had my rod double over that I knew there was a fish on! I caught the fish in slack water. As I brought it slowly in, I fought the fish gingerly as it worked in and out of the current. About half way in the fish rose to the surface, revealing that it was a walleye, and started to roll. I tried to work my way towards slack water with the fish but it was able to make its way back into the current and shake loose.
With the next few hours warming and fishless, I packed it up and went to check some other water for bluegill and pumpkinseed. After checking a few spots and feeling the water, I realized that it was still too cold for the intended species to be in the area. My last resort was to go try to pluck some brook trout from some small mountain streams.
I went high thinking that the water flows would be lower and less murky. I was spot on with the clarity of the water but it was still plenty high. I worked a jig head rather than sinkers thinking that I would be able to get my bait lower in the water column to where the fish were. After missing a few fish, I put on snelled hook with a worm and started casting to any slack water that I could find. This method proved to be effective. The fish were rising to the surface so having my bait on the surface worked well. I was able to catch 6 small brookies before having to head home for work.
Even though the fish weren’t flowing right to my hook, a day of fishing is always great!
So a week ago I was down fishing for staging crappie (Chasing The Warm Water). We had some trouble staying on fish but only when the wind was blowing. When the wind would let up, the sun was warm enough to warm the water up enough to draw the fish out of the deeper, cool water and into the warm shallows. For this trip, we had a warm up over night that cooled down throughout the day. Some spots stayed warmer longer but not all held fish.
We started the day where we had all the luck just a week ago. Cruising in, the fish were no where to be found were they were before but at the very end of navigable water, we found some. We picked about 15 fish before the wind switched on us and started to cool the water. Th e majority of the fish in there were small. Making radius casts around the boat, an osprey swooped down and grabbed a decent sized crappie from where we motored through to get in. We quickly hoisted anchor and got out to where the fish was taken from. No dice. The fish were either not there or completely inactive. Our best bet was to go searching.
We checked several spots with no luck. We had trouble finding water that reached much more than 47 degrees. With the main lake in dismay because of the steady wind with gusts into the high 20′s, we came up with a plan that, if ineffective, would lead us off the water and to dinner.
The first spot we checked appeared to be cold and vacant. We worked both shores, the middle, and then back towards the main lake. Nothing was happening until the it opened up. I pulled a fish out of rough water but lost it at the boat. For the next half hour, we pulled some of the bigger crappie that I have seen so far this spring. They were coming out of 2 feet of water on a very slow drag. The hot bait for the day was a pearl Lake Fork Trophy Lures – “Live” Baby Shad. As the fish funneled by the wind started to pick back up and the water cooled a few degrees causing the fish to vacate the area. The best part of the day happened as we were about ready to leave. As my friend Jamie worked his bait in, a crappie rose up right by the boat and sucked his bobber in but then immediately spit it out. Within seconds, a bass followed up and grabbed the bobber again. Jamie started to pull it in unhooked but it was once again spit it out. Then believe it or not, a crappie had taken the bait underneath and was hoisted into the boat.
The rest of the day was spent unsuccessfully searching for fish. Without a good idea of what else to do, we packed up the gear and made the rough run back to the launch for the drive back home.
With most of the ice finally leaving our lakes and ponds, spring fishing is upon us. In years past, we have focused most of our attention on panfish with the occasional bass trip. The first Saturday in May brings on the opener of Walleye season but what many may not be aware of is that walleye season never closes on the Connecticut River which leaves us with great opportunities to cash in on some great spring walleye fishing.
As water temperatures slowly rise, the walleye begin their yearly migration to their spawning grounds. For the river fish, that is usually upstream towards dams, or any other man made “road block”. It has become a goal of mine to target these fish while waiting for the water to warm up to get after the panfish. After a small amount of research on google earth, I decided to try a spot that looked like it might hold some fish during this time. I only had a few hours after work and grab my rod with some jigs and a couple tubs of crawlers. The spot I was fishing is passable but offers great habitat as well as fast moving water. Walleye often times during the spring will congregate in these areas and will lay just on the edge of the fast moving current. Knowing this, my cast was position just along that edge. It didn’t take long to hook into what felt like a decent sized fish. Another great thing about fishing the Connecticut River is that you never know what you are going to catch. This particular fish happened to be the target species. Without a net, I was luckily able to land it along the rock shore to get a handle on it. It turned out to be a nice 24″ walleye. I globed another crawler on and made the same cast which produced another hook up. A bigger walleye rolled on the surface and managed to throw the hook as it slid into the current. After a few more misses on what I think were walleye I managed to land two northern pike and a smallmouth.
There will be more trips to the river for spring walleyes.