2-22-12 – Squeezed In Another Trip Before Work Today

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.

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Forums And Information

There are many great ways nowadays to obtain and share information on hot bites for fishing as well as many sites that offer some great conversation on hunting and other outdoor activities.  If you are not already a part of some of these you should check them out for sure.  We use them to stay in touch with friends, organize tournaments, and get updated ice/hunting conditions in areas that would require a good amount of travel time.  They are literally the key to a lot of the success that we have.  Here are a few that we frequent regularly.

http://vtsportsman.proboards.com

http://newenglandhunting.proboards.com

http://www.iceshanty.com

http://www.crappie.com

Jig Making, Not As Hard As You Think

So most of us know what jigs work and of course we all have our favorite jigs. Sometimes they can be hard to find in the shops, so why not make them?  This is how I make my soldered jigs that I use for Crappie, Bluegills and Perch.

What You’ll Need:

Hooks

Blades

Soldering Gun

Solder

Paint Brushes and Paint

Patience

I buy most of my supplies from Janns Netcraft.  They’ll have everything you need to get started, but you don’t need much.  Pick the style of blades you want to use and make sure you pick a hook that is big enough for the blade.  I like to use the teardrop and rocker style jigs.The hardest part of making these is the soldering.  I am lucky enough to have come across a jig solder device that allows you to set the hook and blade in a jig that holds them both in place while you solder them.

Some Just soldered jigs and some waiting.

The best way to solder these is to press you solder gun to the middle of the hook shank and wait till the hook and blade heat up enough to melt the solder.  The nice thing about this is that you can determine how much solder you use, add more solder for more weight or less if you wish.  Once the solder has hardened I paint them white.  Now, you can buy the paint specifically for painting lures or go to a craft store and buy the small packages of neon colors for 2 bucks.  I actually prefer the small cheap paint over the jig paint, the colors are a lot more vibrant and easier to work with since they are water based.  The reason I paint all the new jigs white is so I get a better color coat when I choose which color I’m making.  I also would like to mention that I hand paint all my jigs – I don’t air brush or dip them.  I started by dipping them but it was a pain in the arse to open all  the eyelets after you dipped them.  A small pack of brushes from Walmart will work fine.  Once they are painted white you simply decide what colors you want and what small details to put on them.  I usually paint an eye and stripes on mine.  Bright colors seem to work best.  Once all the painting is done you need to put a clear coat to protect your paint.  There are two things to use, the cheapest is your mother’s or wife’s clear nail polish, yep, works great.  The second option is to buy a clear coat from Netcraft. I use the the clear coat from Netcraft because I think it sets up a little harder.  I once again brush this product on.  It takes a couple hours for them to really set up but it’s nothing to make 20-30 jigs in a couple hours.  It’ll save you a lot of money in the long run.  Make sure you come up with some way to dry your jigs. As you can see below, I took a piece of wire and strung it between two posts where I can hang them by their hook.

It takes a little getting use to, but it’s a great way to save money, have some fun, and pass time on between seasons.  Once your comfortable with your product, start experimenting.  Have fun!

Here are some jigs that are completed.Prototypes!

2-21-12 – Windy Day On Champlain

It seems like lately, I have had to fish three spots before I get on a good bite. Fishing on the Connecticut River and local ponds spoils me for when I go to Lake Champlain I think. The Connecticut River is fairly predictable on when and where the fish will bite so not as much time is wasted searching for productive waters. Lake Champlain fish tend to be more mobile and either make a large move bay to bay or a smaller move to a new area fairly regularly. The fish on the river are usually of better quality as well!

On Lake Champlain today, the wind was relentless! Although there were fish there, it was very hard to fish them without some kind of wind break. The first stop of the day was very good a few days ago so we figured we should pop in and check out what has happened since then. After punching a series of holes spread out over a large area, it was time to check with the camera to see what was around. The second hole that I dropped down had a nice sized crappie laying face down right on the bottom. I grabbed my rod and attempted to catch it. Unfortunately, I could not attract that fish or any others for that matter. After seeing only perch and northerns we headed south to fish a nearby bay.

There were a few people already fishing the second bay. At first, the fishing was slow. Only smaller perch were active and it was difficult to find pods of panfish. It took a bit of moving but eventually I was able to pull some fish. The numbers and size weren’t great but it was nice to be catching bluegill and pumpkinseed! The mixture of fish weighed heavily towards bluegill but there was a good deal of pumpkinseed and a few crappie mixed in. After a few hours of slow going, I packed up my gear and got ready to head even further south to hit my final spot for the day.

When I got on the ice it didn’t take long to start catching fish. There were lots of smaller fish but the big fish were there. The majority of the fish I caught were bluegill but most of the other guys were pulling pumpkinseed. I guess I could have moved to a different hole looking for the seeds but I really like trying to catch the light biting bluegill. I fished until 4:45 then decided to call it quits so I could make at least part of my drive home before it got dark.

I used a bunch of different lures made my Bobby today. The color schemes and shapes worked well. Rockers, teardrops, and willows in a wide range of colors from light to dark… It didn’t seem to matter much once they were put near an active fish! Be on the look out for his post on jig making. It will be well worth your time!

2-20-12 – Day Two Of Sight Fishing

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!

2-19-12 – Slow Day But Went Out With A Bang!

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!

2-17-12 And 2-18-12 – Lake Champlain

2-17-12

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.

2-18-12

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!