5-25-12 – Another Day On Beds

I fished Friday for smallmouth again. The day started decent but not what I had expected. I check the weather the night before and they were calling for sun and only a little wind. I found nothing but clouds and 10 mph winds all day! It made for tough sight fishing but after fishing for a while, we were able to find a few pockets of calmer water that held some decent fish.

The setup was the same as my previous trip. I fished a 4″ Gary Yamamoto rigged weedless on a Gamakatsu EWG Worm Hook. I once again chose darker colors (mostly watermelon because that is what I had) on a red hook. I have hook sizes 1/0 to 3/0 and I mostly use the 3/0 because I like the way it matches up with the worm the best. Especially with a 4″ worm.

We fished for about 5 hours and caught 45 bass. The average size was probably only around 14″ but we caught a three over 19″ and 3 pounds. You can see a video of some of the better fish on our YouTube Page. The fishing was fast when it happened but we had a few long stretches where we couldn’t hook a fish even if we wanted to. The wind was moving us along far to fast when we did get bites it was already too late and the fish was gone.

Here’s a few bass from today’s trip

I even hooked into a pickerel… Big head but no body.

We found a good pocket in a shallow bay that was holding some big largemouth for this body of water. We were drifting over a rock bed and found a smallie bed that was holding two fish. We began casting to it without them even budging at the bait. That’s when we noticed a largemouth that dwarfed them by almost two-fold. It was easily a 20″+ fish. Without hesitation we started tossing senko’s, crankbaits, and every other lure in the box without as much as a glance from the bass. The second time through trying to entice this fish we found that there were four others with it; each being progressively larger. The bass were easily all over 4 pounds and I would venture a guess of up to 6…

I’ve had this same scenario play out once before and the ticket was a fly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my fly rod that day and I haven’t had the chance to get back out there. From what I saw on that day and what I am hearing and seeing at work, the spawn is already on its way out and I would guess those fish have moved out from shore. Hopefully I can find one or two of them this summer as there aren’t many largemouth on this lake but they are usually big if you can find them.

Here is a nice one from last fall:

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5-24-12 – Crappie Infestation?

We found a local pond this winter that was holding some crappies.  This was a big deal for us since our closest place to catch some crappies was a minimum of an hour driving time one way.  This is a small pond with an abundance of bass, perch, pumkinseed  and pickerel and apparently now crappie.

I was met with a strong west wind yesterday when I arrived at the launch.  This would be my second trip out this week so I was still learning the pond, my Navionics app on my phone was a big help.  I highly encourage anyone who spends time on the water or the ice that has a smartphone to look into it.  It’s very affordable and will maximize your fishing time.  Areas that I was looking for where the deep holes, sharp breaks and flats with structure (in this ponds case fallen trees and weeds) close to the deep holes and and breaks.

The surface temp in Vermont has shot up quickly in the past two weeks.  Yesterday I had a 70 degree reading.  I knew that this meant most of the crappies had already spawned so I focused on the areas I mentioned before in hopes of finding them post spawn.  Using my Navionics app  noticed that the north shore of the pond had a very sharp break into 28 feet of water so I headed there.

The techniques was simple, I was set up with a Bobby Garland baby shad under a bobber using my 9′ Riversider ultralight rod.  I worked the bait shallow to deep cruising the shoreline with my trolling motor on a speed of one until I got a bite.  I would stop when there was structure in the water and work the area more.  I was very pleased to find that many of the trees blown down on the shore line actually extended out a ways into deep water.  Many of them extended as far out as 15 feet of water which in a crappie fisherman’s eyes is an ideal depth to find  crappie holding on structure.  Most of the fish that I caught here in the 6-10′ range with hard structure.

I was a little discouraged to catch over 40 crappies in my two trips and not one of  keeper quality, ok well maybe one was of the legal 8″ inch size.  I guess that’s good news for a couple years down the road.  I was also able to hook into a few bass, one an acrobat, and way too many pickerel.  Click on this link to see a GoPro video of a crappie being caught.

5-23-12 – Bass On Beds

I got out for the first successful trip of of the season today. I left work early and was on the water shortly after 4pm. After a few, mostly unsuccessful trips the past two weeks, I was ready for the fish to turn on. With little to no wind and bright sun, I was sure we would be able to see any bed on the lake from a mile away.

The worst part part of this particular lake is that the water is never super clear and you can’t always see the beds even if they are only in a few feet of water. The best part about this lake is that the entire shoreline is ideal for spawning habitat. After fishing this lake many times during the spawn over the years, I have learned that there is a bass bed just about every few feet along the shore and especially if there is a rock nearby. The best strategy is to fish slow and make casts every two to three feet alone the shore. If you have the patients to fish a cast all the way back to the boat, the bigger fish usually spawn deeper. I have a few spots that I know larger fish hold so I use up most of my patients on those locations.

Within only a few casts, we had each boated a fish. The average size fish for the lake isn’t huge but the numbers are decent for an inland pond in Vermont. In a little over three hours we boated close to 60 bass. Only one was a largemouth but we saw a few nice one guarding beds. I’ll be giving them a crack soon! The rest were smallmouth with the largest being 19.5″ and weighing in a 3 pounds 7 ounces. I should have some videos up soon!

We fished Gary Yamamoto rigged weedless on a Gamakatsu EWG Worm Hook. On past trips, I have found that darker colors work better on this lake. The fish don’t target black over watermelon but I do find that I get fewer bites with colors like white and pink. As with many people, when fishing beds, I like to fish slow. Cast into the bed, wait and twitch if anything. If the fish doesn’t take it fairly quickly I will reel in and wait to see if a bass swims back on the bed. Pretty simple tactic.

I think because of limited pressure on this lake, these fish hit immediately. It sure makes for some fun fishing! If you wait to crank up your slack, there’s a good chance you will gut hook the fish. It’s always a good idea to be vigil so you can release them to fight another day!

Here’s a few of the fish from the afternoon

5-19-12 – Finally Got A Hook In One

After 3 failed attempts to connect on a spring walleye on Lake Champlain I finally got a hook in one.

I got on the water first thing in the morning with my guide for the day Scott Blair from VTSportsman.  The reports had been decent from the days before so hopes were high.  We unloaded the boat and headed out of the marina, the first spot was not far at all, just around the corner.  We had decided to use the same technique that I had discussed before, 3/8oz jig tipped with a minnow.  We also were prepared to drag crawlers if needed but “only if we had to”.  I rigged up two rods, one with a  jig and one ready to drag a crawler.  It didn’t take too long to get a hit once I got them both in the water.  The first rod to fire was the rod set up with a crawler.  I had high hopes from the type of bite that were had landed right on a school of nice walleye but up came a decent 12″ white perch.  Back in the water with him and back to jigging for me.  Shortly after that Scott hooked up with a healthy walleye, just under the 18″ length requirement of Lake Champlain.  This was a good sign as walleye are schooling fish and where there is one there should be more!  The bad sign was, it was a small male, close to the mouth.  For the time of the year and the water temp this means that the spawn is just about over and the fish are on their way out of the river, we better hurry and get these fish before they leave the river for good.  Another half hour of jigging with nothing to show for lead us to a new spot, well we thought we’d fish it but when we came around the corner there were about 15 boats drifting and dragging crawlers through the section of river that we wanted to jig.  Most boats had stringers out so we knew that there were some fish close by.  We kept right on going up river to another spot away from the crowd that has produced fish in the past.  It didn’t take long upon arrival for me to hook into my first walleye of the season.  I could tell by the bend in my rod that it was a decent fish.  I find the fight of a walleye to be an interesting fight.  First of all you only about 6 feet of line out when jigging so the hook set is quick and the fish is right there!  Keeping your drag set light is key, if you horse these bigger fish often times you’ll pull the jig right out of their mouth.  I let the fish take some line and eventually Scott was able to get the fish into the net.  It was a respectable 26″ inch fish.

The next hour or so brought Scott three more short fish but none that were keepers.  We left the water at 11am with only one keeper in the boat but that was ok since I was finally able to get a hook in one.  Walleye fishing is just about over for me for the summer, time to start chasing the crappies on structure.  Stay tuned for more posts and some great tips on catching Vermont’s crappie in the summer off structure!

5-17-12 – Striper Fishing The Hudson River

I got an invite Tuesday night from the Fish Hound, James Vladyka, and his father to head down to the Hudson River to fish for striped bass. They had made a trip a little over a week earlier with Captain Dan Lussier of Lazy D & Me Charters with great success. I’ve only had the opportunity to fish for stripers a few times with one of my buddies off the coast of Rhode Island, so I was glad I could make the time to go.

The length of the fishable season on the Hudson is determined mainly by two factors; water temperature and weed growth, mainly the highly invasive water chestnut. We were heading down towards the tail end of the season that usually begins for Captain Dan at the start of May and lasts for about three weeks. Throughout the course of the season, Captain Dan guided trips just about every day. The day before we got there he was pulling up water chestnuts with only short green stubble growing but we found it to be much taller less than a day later. He was concerned with the possibility of the few trips he had remaining. even though there was still piles of fish around.

Here is the nasty water chestnut.

To start the day, we went through an area that commonly holds fish but didn’t see any initially. Because the area normally produces, we started getting the boat ready for first drop. After a quick tutorial on how downriggers work and what to do when we got a fish to strike, I was informed that I was going to get first crack. Oh boy!

It didn’t take us long to get into the fish and it was only shortly after 7 am. When our first downrigger popped it was my turn to grab the rod and start cranking. After a nearly ten minute battle, I landed a 30″ striper that was between 12 and 14 pounds. The two scales we used differed unfortunately… Either way, this was my personal best striper and the biggest among all of us for of this particular trip. Check of the video filmed on a Go Pro on our YouTube page.

We mainly ran stick baits by Rapala and Yo-Zuri in a variety of colors. We didn’t find that any one color worked better than another the entire day but bright tones seemed to give the best consistency. After learning how these stripers feed, I had a feeling that this would be the case for the muddy water of the Hudson. Stripers like to stun their food before they eat it which was evident by the jolting blows that they landed on the 13 pound downrigger ball. Check out this video on our youtube site of the fish slamming the downriggers!

Here is one of Captain Dan’s tackle boxes of baits. He is worse than me with selection… Always necessary to have a variety though (or at least I tell myself that)!

We had a difficult  day overall. We were the first ones on the water Thursday and it paid off in many respects. We got to enjoy the ride out to our spot for the day with undisturbed wildlife such as numerous varieties of  birds, a deer drinking from the river, and a beaver. When I landed my first fish we still had the entire run of river to ourselves. Unfortunately this was when it became fishing. It doesn’t take long for everyone to key on a boat when the land a fish. It’s arguably worse than Champlain when someone lands a crappie!

After the first fish, the water started to get rough as the wind was blowing south and the tide was coming north. We were stuck in the middle of flowing water in 4 foot waves. Still not a problem for the 250 Sport Fisherman Baha Cruiser! When we hooked the second fish, we made circles on it well over a dozen times before the hooks popped loose. Every time we were able to get the line counter down, the fish would make a long run while the boat was not so easily moved without engaging the motor. After each run we were back to square one and frustrated. The same thing happened with the third fish as well! Damn! Both were hogs for sure. The first one that got away was on for about 25 minutes without a sighting…

We were constantly on fish throughout the day. We definitely had times when they bit better than others but that’s fishing. When you fish with electronics, sometimes you get more frustrated than without but they are almost necessary these days; especially when guiding. Most times you can determine what depth fish are active at and what depths they are resting at. This trip had the divide at right around 20 feet. You can see the size of the school we had under the boat for a good portion of the day below!

Captain Dan has very competitive prices and is successful whenever his boat is in the water. He can take you out for a trip on the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, and Lake Ontario if you desire.

If you would like to take a trip with Captain Dan here is his contact information:

1-802-558-7633 (C)
or

Write to Captain Dan Lussier,
818 Stage Rd.
Benson, VT 05743

or

email us at: LlazyD@aol.com

or

Website with more information: Lazy D & Me

Here are some other pictures from the trip.

These guys know how to have some fun!

Fish on for the Fish Hound!

Incoming!

5-16-12 – Stormy Day Of Fishing

A buddy and I made plans to head to my camp Wednesday after work in hopes that the warming water temps would be pushing the smallmouth up towards shore for the spawn. On a recent trip (Finally Put The Boat In), we found that some bass were moving up but overall only a few fish had made the seasonal migration. After a few more days, it was sure to be good!

Mid day, the weather service began issuing severe thunderstorm warnings across the state but the skies were still blue and there was no wind. Perfect day for bed fishing! Of course, as I started on my way home, the skies as I crested the heights in Northfield were dark and stormy. We figured we had at least an hour on the water before the weather would push us off or sink the boat as we tried. Either way we were going fishing!

It got worse than this after the next mountain range!

We got on the water with clear skies above us but darkness on the horizon. The first few casts produced bites but we were still only able to boat a few fish throughout the day. The fish that were biting were right on shore but as we drifted along, we came across many beds in the 5-7′ depth range. Very unusual for the lake we were on from the years that I’ve been at it. I guess the lake needs a few more days till its worth going back again.

We fished a good portion of the west shore as it provided the best seclusion from the wind and in past years has held more fish than anywhere else on the lake. Not necessarily the biggest fish though. As we went along with on our drift, the clouds crept closer and closer until we hit a point that opened us up onto the widest part of the lake. This was when we realized we needed to make a change  if we hoped to get out of white caps and heavy winds.

Not wanting to fish the same shore again, we went across to the south east end of the lake where the wind looked manageable. Boy were we wrong… We fished that stretch of shore faster than ever before. It was nearly impossible to effectively fish a cast with anything but a crankbait. As we reached the southern extent of the beat it started raining a bit. We called it for the time and started motoring back to the dock. The waves were splashing over the boat making the ride back not very enjoyable.

After unloading the boat, we decided to hang close to camp in case the skies cleared. We figured the best way to pass the time was with some brookies. We fished two small brooks and a beaver pond with a few fish taking the bait. Native brookies have some of the best colors in the wild world! We posted a video of one brookie  on our Facebook page. It was just after 7 pm at this point and we decided with the sparse thunder booms still lingering, we shouldn’t get back out in an aluminum boat! I knew of another smaller pond with bass in it on the way home so we beat feet there to look for some beds within casting distance of shore.

We were successful in finding some beds that we could cast to. The first bed we found had two bass on it. One male and one female. We could tell there was both because they were doing a mating dance where the male was nudging the female in an attempt to release some eggs. It was pretty cool to see. I wish I had my underwater camera to try to get some footage of it! We were able to catch the male once. You can see a video of the bass on our Facebook page as well.

Even with the poor weather conditions the day was still a success in my book!

5-14-12 – Walleyes On Their Way Out?

Vermont’s walleye season is in full swing and I’ve taken every chance I’ve had to get on the water with hopes of boating a few.   Yesterday, I was able to get out with a few friends for some afternoon fishing.  The weather was fair, partly cloudy skies with breaks of sun. Recent rain has pushed a lot of the fish out that had made their yearly migration up the river to spawn.  There is eight miles of river that is fish-able from the mouth of the Winooski River up to the dam. Walleye will spawn all through that stretch with great concentrations the further you are up the river.  When we get a lot of rain, those fish tend to start working their way back out of the river with the flow once they have spawned.  This is a great time to hook into a walleye of a lifetime.

I met the boys at the boat launch and they had already had some luck earlier that day.  Dody was able to hook into a really nice fish that he was all excited about entering it into Vermont’s Master Angler program. The fish was about 30″ and pushing 7.5lbs, a dandy for sure. He caught it vertical jigging a 3″ Berkley Gulp Minnow.  Considering it was a weekday there was a good amount of boats on the river enjoying a nice spring day.  Many of the boats had put some fish on the stringer earlier dragging crawlers on the bottom.  As the season progresses and the water warms up, this method becomes more and more effective.  There’s really nothing to it.  A hook and enough split shot to keep the crawler on the bottom and sit and wait.  The walleye moving up and down the river will eat most things you put in-front of them but the hard part is finding a school and staying with them as they move. I know this sounds cheap but the easiest way to do that is to look for the boats concentrated in one area!

I was dragging a crawler with one rod and vertical jigging a minnow with the other.  The only fish I was able to boat all day worthy of the net was a really nice smallie that decided to pick my crawler up off the bottom.  No walleye for me.  Scott from VT Sportsman was able to hook into a few smaller fish, two being keepers for the stringer.

Hey, that’s why it’s called fishing right?  I’ll give it another shot this weekend.