I guess I have been slacking on keeping up with this blog thing. Fishing is getting in the way…Sorry!
I went up to fish for lake trout and perch on an inland pond in the north east kingdom on Monday with a buddy that I met through work this summer. We had made plans to stay all day but knew the day revolved around the availability of smelt for bait. Fortunately, over the last few years I have developed a relationship with a guy on the lake. The last two years, we have had our shanties next to each other so we have spent a fair amount of time together. This year, he put his shanty where I usually fish because I don’t have access to a shanty and it was a good way to mark it. Plus, he gets to catch loads of lake trout and slab perch! His wife is quite the smelt fisherwoman. She can catch them by the bucket full while no one else is getting a bite. I got a call the night before that gave me directions to his stocked bait cache.
We were on the ice at 5am and were quickly setting up. It didn’t take long for the flags to start popping. My buddy doesn’t care for perch so I tried to have him set up in the traditional trout areas while I was in the perching grounds. One problem with our set up was that we didn’t pinwheel out our tipups from the location that we normally do. Therefore, most of his flags were in the perch holes and mine were either dead or in lake trout holes.
The morning run in the dark was decent. Not many fish but a fair number of flags that the fish had dropped the baits or were missed while setting the hook. The best fish from the morning was a laker around four pounds. It came from six feet of water. The first perch that came through a hole was 14.5″ and 1.4 pounds shortly after sunrise. It was the smallest perch of the day but still a dandy!
Pretty much the whole day was spent in my buddies hardside. The temperature wasn’t terribly cold but the wind was whipping. Boy, did the propane heater feel good! Usually when I fish, I don’t eat much if at all. On this trip, we planned ahead. We had bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for breakfast around 10 and venison steaks around 2. I think I should start eating like that more often on the ice!
As usual, mid day was slow. We didn’t have any real runs other than one flag that tripped whenever the wind was blowing. That occurred pretty often! With all the dead time we decided to move some flags around that hadn’t produced anything all morning. The direction was deeper. Usually, fishing trout on this lake we run our traps in water less than 30 feet with the bait a leader length below the ice. We began staggering our baits and found that the bottom was just as productive if not more.
The evening started slow. As soon as the sun started setting the flags started to pick up. Some were dropped baits, some were fish, and some were missed opportunities. We thought we were going to be leaving earlier than we did so the remainder of live bait we had we but back in the shack and locked it up. We kept a few dead smelt out just in case. Good thing we did because the fish were into it! We went round and round on what we called “the track” checking flags with lights. Several more lake trout and two more jumbo perch over 15″ were iced before we packed it up at 7.
It was good to get out fishing for trout but it isn’t quite as much fun as jigging… I think I have two more trips for lakers in my planner. One 2 weekends from now on a different lake. We will start fishing for lake trout but switch over in search for cusk for the evening. The other at the start of march with a bunch of guys who want to see the perch and hopefully a few lakers mixed in!
There was a good perch run after dark!
This is what the perch usually are puking up as they are pulled in. I asked my buddy to check the stomach contents while he was cleaning his fish for a more detailed analysis. He reported that they all had crayfish, smelt, and some had other unidentified (partially decomposed) minnows.
One of the lakers
Here’s the best part of the day!
Check out this video!