4-7-12 – Limits On The River

We were packed up and on the road this morning shortly after 6am. We hit the baitshop on the way thinking that fatheads would be the ticket. Upon arrival to the Connecticut River, the weather was calm, partly cloudy, and the temp was in the low 30’s. The water was glass so we figured using the small rooftop boat would be no issue being that our only motor were the oars.

We launched the boat and quickly realized that we were in for a quick, cramped trip if the fishing was poor. We slightly over packed for the room we had. Funny thing was, we only used about a tenth of what we brought. The rest was just for added weight.

The beginning started slow with only one short crappie and some decent perch being caught. We had one boil on a perch by a large northern pike as it came towards the boat. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, it didn’t grab the perch causing a commotion we certainly didn’t need in the tiny, flat bottomed boat! It took maybe a half hour for us to actually find the crappie in the large area that we were fishing but once we did, it was on. Here is the first keeper crappie in the boat for the day.

In about two hours we were both able to get our limits of nice sized fish. The numbers and average size today was outstanding. One of the better days either of us have had in this hole. We had 43 true doubles and who knows how many dropped fish that could have skyrocketed that number! The total number of fish for the day was well north of 300. Can’t ask for much more than that!

This is what I look like when I don’t bring food…

We tried to take a shot of the two of us for the blog but we need a better photographer than a bucket on a side hill. Any takers? ha

Other than crappie, we were only able to catch perch. They were moving shallow for the spawn. Although most were in the 8-9″ range we caught some pretty decent sized males mixed in deeper with the crappie. Fishing the shore line with 5′ under the bobber was most effective. As soon as the bait was deep enough to stand the bobber up, the fish were biting. If we would have fished the shore line more, I think we could have each gotten a few meals.

We didn’t bring a thermometer but the water was still extremely cold and the fish were still holding tight in their winter pattern, suspending in deeper water. We both brought out Vexilars so we were able to know when and where the fish were cruising through. The majority of the fish we marked were down 10-14′ in 20+’ but we had the most success with out baits down only 5-6′.

We had brought the fatheads thinking that we would be able to target larger fish. This proved to be a waste of money for the day. We caught one crappie, one perch, and ended up dumping the rest on shore at the end of the day. We caught the rest of fish on baby shad by Bobby Garland. We only tried two colors today so its hard to say what worked and what didn’t. I ran chartreuse and red glitter while bobby used the albino shad. With the feeding spree going on today I think any color or similar shaped bait would have been effective.


4-6-12 – A Quick Trip To The River

I had a bit of time and the water levels looked good on the Connecticut River so I took a quick trip today.  The report that I got from a quick search on the internet in regards to water level of the downstream dam was that water was flowing out of holding at a rate of 10,200 cfs until 1pm then slowing to 1,300 cfs till 6pm. We haven’t gotten any good reports from these spots lately so I was hesitant but had to try with such a nice day!

The spot that I was planning on fishing today is rather shallow so I knew that I needed water in order for it to be productive. When I got there, the water was already at the base of the reeds so I bypassed it and headed to the next potential spot. The water here looked much better being that there is a good deep channel at all times. I fished up and down the setback and only was able to locate fish at one sheltered and channelized end.

Being that I was on the river, I was limited on my tackle options. I was fishing Bentley tungsten under a bobber tipped with a chartreuse and red flake Bobby Garland. I began fishing at a depth of 3′ and after a slow start I adjusted my depth just 4.5′. I changed the depth of my bobber for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t catching many fish and 2) the current had my bait swimming just below the water level because it was moving so fast. It was comical how fast my bait was moving when fished close to shore in the current.

About the time I changed my depth the water level stopped dropping rapidly. Noticeably, my casts were lasting much longer before being pushed to shore by the current. Because I was now fishing deeper in the water column and my jig was moving slower I was able to really work each cast the way I wanted to.

The first few casts in the new conditions produced some real nice perch. In the next 45 minutes I landed about 35 perch between 9-12″. They were all males as evidenced by the presence of milt. It was fun catching these fish as they were aggressive biting but slow to pull the bobber under. Their bites resembled crappies so much that each fish got me excited for its reveal!

I am positive that I rolled at least one flat fish today because I was able to see the fish as soon as I set the hook. The semi-clear and low water level  made it so the silhouettes only took a second to appear and one was a big round oval. Maybe next time I will know better!

I was limited as to what parts of the setback I could fish today because I didn’t have my boat or kayak. I could see fish on the far shore popping at the surface for part of the time I was there, mainly when the water flow slowed. I would imagine they were crappie because of the distinct sound they were making. All in all it was a good mid day trip and I will be back there soon!

4-3-12 – Scouting For Trout And Turkey

I took yesterday to get out and check some spots for the two season that are coming up; trout and turkey. Although I like to catch bigger fish, brookies are by far my favorite trout to target. I fish a lot of smaller streams for native trout throughout the summer and with this low water I thought I would be able to see how active they were. I checked two streams close to the road that I frequent and found lots of fish cruising around. It was killing me not being able to fish for them yet but definitely not worth the ticket! I guess as long as the water level doesn’t come up much between now and the opener, the more remote streams I fish will be similar and yield bigger fish!

You just can’t beat the colors!

Along my travels yesterday I came across some frog eggs that were frozen under ice in puddles. They were in at least a dozen spots in an abandoned logging landing.

I saw close to 30 birds on more than one occasion during rifle season so I thought it would be worth a scouting trip this spring. Although I wasn’t able to visibly find any turkeys while in the woods, there was good evidence they were close by. Lots of scratching and feathers were scattered throughout the woods. Big woods birds intrigue because I can’t imagine they get pressured much. At least these ones anyway. Time will tell though. I will be heading there for some early morning roosting action soon to see if there are any nice toms in the mix.

I decided I needed to see some wildlife when I got home so I took a stroll out behind the house. I ended up stumbling across some deer and turkeys that I watched from a distance for about 45 minutes. It was a good day to sit in sun and waste some time!

On the way out of the woods I pulled one of my trail cameras to see whats been happening. Here’s some of what I found:

In Search Of Some New Spots

I had a few hours to do some research last afternoon on the Connecticut River.  I went fishing in a few spots that I’ve had under my belt and found some new ones.  I thought I would take the chance to get a few photos and show everyone what we’re looking for.  The first spot I fished was a setback of the main river.  This spot you would think would be perfect for spawning panfish, 500 yards off the river, somewhat shallow water and good edge structure such as cat tails to help warm the water up.

As I was fishing from shore I was unable to use my electronics to check the depth and was limited with my movements with casting.  I use a bobber to check the depths to see if this has what I’m looking for.  Set your bobber with about a 5 foot tag and cast, if your bobber comes upright you know that you have at least 5 feet of water.  You can also see in this picture that this setback has weeds.  The weeds actually looked pretty good.  They were still upright and not too slimy.  The setback should hold fish soon when the water starts to warm up.

The next spot I tried was a spot that I had fish once before from a little boat and was able to boat some nice bluegill.  This is a cut along side a road.  A small river meets up with the big river hear causing this back water.  The dams seemed to be closed yesterday and this little cut seemed to have at least 6 feet of water and was holding fish, well I broke off on a nice sized Northern.  This tells me that the water might still be a little cold since the Northern’s spawn earlier than the panfish, however, that Northern is in there for a reason, there is food, and I want to catch his food.  Once again, the further away from the main body of water you got the water got warmer, but also shallower.   The trick is, finding that fringe of nice quality water and temperature.

This last spot I found I didn’t have time to fish and it was killing me.  There were fish popping the surface when I got out of my truck.  This was a new spot, I had driven by it hundreds of times but never took the time to look.  The deal with this one was a landlocked setback, that was connected to the river by a small 3 foot culvert.  The water was flowing out of the setback, warmer water keep in mind.  It cam through the pipe and pushed up against a bank of cat tails.  This is where the fish were rising.  The water then went around a bend and out into the main river.  It’s all about timing.  This spot will be hot in a week or two when the water really warms and that warm water is flowing out of the setback into the main river.

I’m standing on the pipe.

Hopefully this information is useful to you.  I had a good time in search of some new potential hot spots!

Where Oh Where Did They Go?. . . .

We had record high temps in Vermont two weeks ago which is now causing havoc for fishermen.  When the ice goes out and the water starts to warm  panfish push to the shallows in search of the warmest water preparing for the spawn.  This was the case two weeks ago however, the weather was thrown us for a loop.  Temps have been back to normal if not cooler.  Surface temps of 66 have dropped backed down to 39-44 degrees, and the fish are shocked!  The water on the big lake is actually warmer in the channel, deeper water due to the fact that there is more water there to cool down.  The shallows in some spots have started to skim over again, is it time to get the ice gear back out?  There are a few things you can try if you insist on fishing these tough conditions to try and improve your success.

It’s easy to get frustrated when a situation like this happens, just remember, when fish are moving in, they are concentrated.  There are a lot of fish in these areas and they are not going to travel all the way back to where they had spent the winter, they’re not far.  It is likely that the fish have just slide out of these areas and re-located to the nearest hard bottomed flat.  The fish will stage up here waiting for the water to warm back up.  Although they are more spread out, they can still be caught.  They may relate to small pieces of structure that will attract the warmth from the sunlight and warm the water slightly, a few degrees is all that it takes.

If the weather is really drastic the fish might just slide right out into the nearest deep water they can find.  A good depth zone to look for would be 16′.  In this case I would use my electronics on the boat, or my Vexilar on bottom lock, and cruise the drop offs close to the warm water flats in search of suspended fish.  Live bait might be your best bet in this case, not only did the cold weather shock their spawning pattern, it also will shut down their feeding pattern, it might take live bait to make them eat.  Another thing to think of is water clarity.  Stained water is darker and will warm up sooner, this may also cause fish to be drawn to these areas.

When the weather gets cold after record high temps things will get tough.  Try not to get discouraged and keep at it, you’ll be surprised how much you may learn.