As we all get older our priorities seem to shift, we strive to order our lives in the best way we know how. Allowing our children to have the opportunity to love the outdoors and it’s offerings has moved to the top of the list for us. We were able to get Bobby’s son Henry on the ice for the first time this past weekend and it was truly a special moment for both father and son.
The day was set aside as a relaxed family day with most of our close friends. Fishing was low key as it was not the number one priority. We set up a few tip ups on a local inland lake, we cooked some food and just enjoyed each others company. Henry made it longer than we expected, lasting an hour and a half on his first ice fishing adventure. The fishing techniques was simple, “grab the line a run Henry” seemed to bring a few fish out of the hole. The look of pure enjoyment on Henry’s face after the first fish came through the hole was enough to make this trip a success.
It is so important to get our youth out of the house and experience the outdoors. Society is changing every day and our children have lost the experiences we were all so fond of growing up. If you get the chance please give a youth the chance to love the outdoors as we all do. They’re growing up fast with the use of technology, please try to put a Vexilar in front of them instead of them in front of an Xbox.
We are finally starting to see cars and trucks out on the ice which means it time to start expanding fishing spots. I ventured out with a few buddies to a new spot that sees very little traffic. We knew if there was any ice it was going to be thin.
We arrived around 5am and planned on fishing for about 2 hours in the dark. Things did not look great at first but after a quick check, we found there to be about 5″ of black ice nearing shore that thinned out to around 4″ after a decent walk.
Once we got perched above the weedbed, we cut a few holes, set up shop and started fishing. Almost immediately, the fish were biting. It was about as fast up and down as we could move in the dark. Pumkinseed, bluegill, perch, and crappie were all aggressive well before sunrise.
Daylight brought more of the same. Even though it was cold and there was a slight breeze, fishing outside the hub was enjoyable as the fish were hungry. We cut maybe 40 holes all day which proved to be enough to keep us constantly on fish. We hoped for a good number of crappie but only found a few dozen all day long.
The three of us ran maggots on yellow and red vertical jigs all day. It didn’t seem to matter how we jigged as long there was a pause when the marks got closer.
I hit the ice with a few buddies and we were on location, cutting holes in the dark. Having not fished this bay yet this winter, our starting waypoint was from years past.
While the Vexilar showed little to no weeds, the fish were cruising and very aggressive. We started the day with around 50 holes. As we worked through them spread out, we keyed in on a few areas that seemed to have better concentrations of larger fish. With a good starting point, we cut more holes and tried to find their direction of movement.
As we fished round and round, it became evident that the fish were moving but not far. Most of the time, it was just a matter of cutting another row or two of holes to jump start the bite again. The auger wasn’t scaring them. If nothing else, it helped shake them up!
All morning long I was able to fish plastics with no issues drawing fish in and convincing them to bite. Around one things slowed down. A simple switch to maggots got things going again though.
The day ended around 3 and we left the ice with them still biting.
Our long and drawn out early ice this season has put a damper on our night trips but we finally made it out for a few hours last week. Ice conditions were good with almost a foot of ice as we scouted an area to set up for the evening. It’s usually in your best interest to doing a little bit of scouting before you land on a spot for the night, especially if your fishing a new body of water or if the fish your after are difficult to pattern.
We cut a string of holes an hour or so before dark. We focused our attention a few different points of natural structure. This particular basin lake had a few small weed covered humps protruding out of relatively deep water. We started our line of holes on and around the hump in an attempt to locate fish. After fishing through the holes, we decided to cut along the weed edge on the first major contour break. It didn’t take long for us to hit a hole with with active crappie in it. After we iced our first fish, we decided that was enough for us to set up the Clam hub and our Hydro Glow fishing light for the night.
There were some active fish in the area as we were able to hook into them right off the bat. The fish were coming through in waves, maybe five to six at a time right near the bottom. Most times we find them suspending just above the weeds but that’s the beauty of having a fish finder. Adjusting to the bite is much less troublesome when you can see where the fish are rather than guessing.
The fish bit pretty consistently until 7:15 but we stuck it out until 8:15 in case things changed. They didn’t so we headed home and packed up for the next morning!
I was fishing a medium sized inland pond with a few buddies searching for crappie that roam over a large basin. After checking all the ice to make sure it was safe, we cut some holes and got to fishing.
The basin we were focusing on had a max depth of 25′. As we fished around, it was clear that the fish cruised anywhere from 22-25′. There was no hesitation when they moved through. As long as your bait was within a few feet of them, they would come up or down to hit.
All day long, I fished with a Half Ant Drop by Clam Outdoors tipped with 3-4 maggots. When I am in an area that is producing mainly crappie, I don’t worry about what I am using for bait because in general they don’t pluck the baits off like bluegills or perch. I think I could count on one hand how many times I had to put new bait on all day!
Success was a achieved today by speed. A quick up and down kept the fish below and aggressive. Having buddies nearby was also a benefit as the large schools of roaming fish could be slowed up while in feeding mode.
We released all the crappie but kept a few yellow perch for an upcoming fish fry!
I hit the road early with a few buddies. We set up shop for the day in shallow water. Mainly less than 6′. The baits were staggered at different depths with the concentration of them being in less than 3′ as the channel is narrow. We hooked up small shiners, half crawlers, and some powerbait.
We were set up around sunrise and the first flag caught us by surprise while we stood around and caught our breath from making sure things were good to go. When the flag popped we all heard the sound and started running. The straws were drawn and I was 3rd in rotation.
The best fishing of the day occurred from sunrise to 10am. We landed a dozen brookies and 2 rainbows. Big fish of the day was also the first fish, a 17.25″ brookie. The highlight of the day was us landing 5 fish in about 20 minutes from one hole that was in a foot of water. We got to watch the fish fighting on the way in as both the water and ice were crystal clear.
I told myself at the beginning of the day I would only keep a fish if it was hooked badly. By the end of the day, I had iced enough for a limit but all of them were hooked nicely in the corner of the mouth. While I went home empty handed, I had enough in the fridge for a meal of perch and crappie.
The temperature finally cooled down enough here in Vermont to form ice on some smaller bodies of water. We made a plan to meet up with some friends and make a day out of fishing one of our favorite early ice haunts.
The temperature had been hovering around zero for the past few days and we weren’t surprised when we arrived and walked out onto a good 4-5 inches of hard ice in the dark. The spot that we were fishing is a small secluded cove on a large body of water. We fished our normal spots, drilling holes in the channel, along the weed edge, and on the weed flat. When we fish small spots like this we like to drill all of our holes first thing. This allows us to find the active fish throughout the day while not spooking fish out of the area by constant cutting. Be aware though,this is not always the scenario. At times we find that cutting holes triggers the fish into a feeding frenzy.
Fishing was very typical of this cove during first ice. The fish were active and feeding in the channel at first light. We were able to land five species (Rockbass, Bluegill, Sunfish, Crappie, Perch) in a short time. The specific bite always seems to pick up mid morning with lulls on either side. After the morning rush, the next move is to follow the fish. Most times, when presented with this situation the fish will most likely slide into the weeds and find a nice spot atop the weed flat to spend the remainder of the day. Since we had drilled this area out earlier in the morning, knowing the fish weren’t there yet, we were able to move with them. The trick was finding a hole with weeds but not so many that you couldn’t punch your jig through to get to the fish.
Don’t give up when the fish stop biting. Many times they have just moved slightly. Other reasons could be a change in food preference, they have changed how they want the bait moving (or not moving), or it could be the fish you are around are in fact, done feeding. If the fish stop feeding and you’ve unsuccessfully tried problem solving, go look for a new pod of fish or maybe even a different species. On this day, once the fish moved into the weeds they became more predictable. The gills seemed to be hugging the bottom and acting lethargic, but the crappie were coming in high and without hesitation.
It was a great start to the season with some good friends and plenty of fish.