1-31-12 – Champlain Again!!!

After a sad showing yesterday attempting to night fish pathetically lethargic crappie, a few of my buddies and I decided it was a good day to make up for it and chase flags on Lake Champlain. Of course, we would pass the time between flags by jigging panfish. Overall, we had a fairly successful day. The weather was decent but it didn’t take long to change to snow though. Better than rain I guess!

We stopped at Dockside to pick up bait and headed for the ice around 7am. We got three dozen medium/heavy shiners and were set up with about 20 tip ups out by 8. The flags didn’t take long to start popping. I forgot how much action there can be fishing like this. I wish I had wore a pedometer! At the beginning of the day we were pretty civil approaching our traps that had been tripped. We took turns and walked fast at best. By the end of the day it was an all out sprint with plenty of stiff arms to be had. We all had plenty of chances at fish in the end.

We had two different set ups on our tip ups. One set was rigged with steel leaders the other had straight 8 pound fluorocarbon. None of us noticed any difference in the number of flags on one style or the other. The only difference was break-offs. Obviously, when fishing the toothy critters of the Esocidae family (northern pike and pickerel), line durability is a big concern. The fluoro had several break-offs while the steel leaders had none. Makes sense right? I have read stories and articles about how in certain locations using a steel leader will completely shut off the fish from biting while some times they prefer it. Obviously, the fish today were not too worried! Perfect!

Throughout the day we landed quite a few bass, pickerel, and northern pike. Although none of the fish were huge, two of the pike were over 30″. Jigging pannies was decent all day but they never seemed to school up like the did the last few days. Lots of hole hopping was necessary! At the end of the day, all the guys jigging were spread out far more than normal in a large area.

I could think of a million worse ways to spend a Tuesday! If nothing else, we provided entertainment for all the guys out there as we ran for flags!

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Hydro Glow Fish Lights

The plan is for us to head to a small crappie pond tonight and try out the new Hydro Glow Fish Light.  We’ll keep you posted on the outcome!  See you Soon.We tried out the light last night.  WOW! ;D  That thing really glows.  The fishing on the other hand sucked.  We marked a lot of fish working the edges of the glow but they were strange. In 22fow, the fish suspended about 16-18 down, charge the bait, get 6 inches from it, stop, turn and charge the bottom, weird.  We managed to get a few crappie and perch but nothing to write home about.  I am convinced that the light is productive, just don’t stare at it too long like me, you’ll see everything in red for a couple of minutes!

1-29-12 – Champlain Trip Part II

Got back up fishing on Lake Champlain this morning. We fished from 7:45 am to 4pm. The fishing was about on par with yesterday but the thicker concentrations of fish had moved slightly south. There weren’t any special lessons learned today other than reinforcement to not fishing an unproductive hole for too long. Most holes still held fish but they weren’t always in a feeding mood. There was the potential today to waste a lot of time on fish that you would have to work very hard to catch if you weren’t proactive in pursuing them.

One technique that I had great success today was fishing right on the bottom with slack in the line. The last few trips I have taken on Lake Champlain have had me trying to perfect this way of fishing. Lots of the fish I have pulled recently have had small snail like shells in their mouths so I assumed that they were feeding right off the bottom. I drew this conclusion because there are very few weeds in the area and there are so many fish… They have to be feeding locally.  Basically, I lay my jig right on the bottom and wait for the line to move from a fish swimming away. Every once in a while, if the fish don’t take it, I pound my bait a few times to stir up the sand/muck which rings the dinner bell. I caught 8 of my 11 crappies and a decent number of the gills/seeds this way today. If you are going for numbers this technique is less productive but it is great when the bite gets tough.

The majority of the fish today were caught using a vertical Caty jig tipped with a J & S Plastic. The color didn’t seem to matter much as the fish were always active in at least one hole.

Here’s our catch for the day

1-28-12 – Champlain Trip Part I

We went fishing up in the islands of Lake Champlain today. The bite started slow but after switching to a different bay we were able to get on good fish. From 11am until just after 4:15pm, I caught about 50 pounds of assorted fish (perch, gills, seeds, and crappie). We punched a bunch of holes in a large area and using my Aqua Vu Micro underwater camera I was able to confirm that most holes had fish. Throughout the course of the day I was able to pinpoint a few specific “honey holes” that held better numbers of fish each time I returned. Whenever I would drop the camera down one of these holes, there would be numerous fish at all depths in the water column. Trying to fish with my flasher was difficult because the whole screen was red!

There weren’t many people out there fishing today and the weather was great. Tomorrow is calling for snow but no significant accumulations. Perfect! Stay tuned for more tomorrow night!

Spot Selection

The weekend warrior of ice fishing needs to be prepared in order to maximize their time spent on the hard water.  How do you choose where you are going fishing each weekend? I’m sure we all have our go to spots that consistently produce fish, and I know it’s hard to leave fish to go find fish but D & B Ice Adventures enjoys the challenge. Here are a few things that we look for when searching for fish.  The first thing you need is a good updated lake map.  Your two best options are to go to the F&W page and print one off, or better yet, if you’re running a smartphone, buy the Navionics App.  With lake map in hand you should be looking for sharp contour lines, inside turns, deep basin’s close to weed lines and large flats.  My top two places to look for would be inside turns and weeds that come up out of deep water.  Fish will use these areas to hold up and ambush bait fish.  Points are always good spots to check, that point will continue into the water creating some great cover, contour and ambush spots for the walleye, perch and crappie.  When in search of panfish, I’ll look for large flats with green weeds.  These green weeds will hold the life mater in which the bluegill and sunnies will be feeding on.  For basin perch, find the basin and run and gun, these fish will be feeding on blood worms so pounding the bottom with a spoon of small jig should produce fish.  Maki Plastics makes a great bait for this situation called the bloodi.  Needless to say, spend some time doing your pre-fish homework and you’ll have better success when the time comes to get out and wet some lines!

1-24-12

I went fishing on Lake Champlain yesterday from 7:30 am to just before 5 pm. The bite was never hot and heavy nor were the fish of quality size. The picture below was my only seed over 9″. The weather report was far from what was called for not that I am complaining. The wind was suppose to blow 15-20 mph all day but luckily it didn’t pick up till later in the day. It was also suppose to be a sunny day but that never happened either. There was actually a fair amount of precipitation throughout the day. That’s ice fishing in Vermont for ya! As for the crowd, there were quite a few people out there fishing until the wind picked up. I think the lack of fish and deteriorating weather pushed people out early.

For the most part, every hole I fished had fish but the majority of them were filled with dink perch. There were a few areas that were replenished throughout the day though so I tried to get back while still searching around for better schooling areas. I found one spot that offered a good deal of snow coverage on the clear ice.  I punched maybe 2 dozen holes in a small area that was about half clear ice and half snowpack ice. My first few drops produced decent seeds so I kept pounding the area. I was getting pretty frustrated with how frequent the little fish were stealing my bait so I changed up my presentation to a larger profile that included a plastic by Maki Plastics.  Because the fish were still showing on the flasher, I put on the first plastic I found. It was a previously used red Maki that had turned to a maroon in my coat pocket. I then started having a lot of fish following from the bottom to just below the ice but not taking it readily like before while fishing meat. Three holes later, I landed my first crappie of the day. Over the next two hours I iced a dozen crappie and a good pile of gills and seeds. About the time the fish stopped showing on my flasher people started to clear out so I was able to move to other areas and not punch holes the rest of the day. The rest of the day was fairly consistent but still not a great bite.

I try to analyze my day after every trip. I think that if I don’t try to learn something from every fish I will never get any better. Some fish want it fast while some want it slow. Some want it put right in their mouth while others want it taken away so they have to charge. Figuring out what the fish want can make the difference between landing chips all day or catching a limit of quality fish especially on Lake Champlain where the fish are abundant. Some days it doesn’t matter though… You can do everything right or everything wrong and it could be the best or worst day on the water. My grandmother had a sign above her kitchen doorway with a picture of a cow in a green field on a beautiful bluebird day with its foot in a bucket with the quote: “someday’s you step in it, someday’s you don’t”. Not everyday can be a great day on the ice but one thing that I have learned is that it is better to work on new tactics and techniques and not catch fish than to go home early without a meal and twiddle your thumbs.

So looking back at yesterdays trip I ask myself, what did I learn? Well to start, don’t throw out your used plastics! Maki Plastics are durable and you can hook them anyway you want and still catch fish. Also, sometimes a new color can be made inside your pocket that is just what the fish want for the given day! When I switched from using spikes to a plastic not only did I weed out smaller fish but I started catching an entirely different species that was already in the area but I just didn’t know. Secondly, I changed my mind set that when there is clear ice, look for ice that has texture or snow to break up my silhouette. I caught more sunnies on clear ice in an 8″ hole than anywhere else. Lastly, get out on your own. When I caught my crappie I was away from everyone else. There were no holes and no one withing a short distance of me.