6-24-12 – Walleye In Wood Part II

After Bobby had a good day with numbers of walleye on the Connecticut River on Saturday, I got out of work early so we could make a second trip. We were on the water just after 1 pm with the sun high and warm. The wind came in spurts relieving us from the heat. After 10 minutes of jigging we had both boated and released a  fish slightly over the 16 – 18″ slot. We were hopeful that the size run would continue as the average was not nearly as large the day before.

After releasing the fish, we got checked by a pair of friendly NH wardens and got back to fishing. A few minutes later, we were both hooked up with another set of netter fish. This time was a different story though… Bobby requested the net first, so I grabbed it intending to get his fish for him. As I stood tall with the net in hand, I got a glimpse of my first big Vermont Walleye. I told Bobby his fish would have to wait and gave him the net to get mine. A few seconds later, we had a 26″ – 6.5 pound male flopping about the floor of the boat. Trying not to get too excited we dunked the net to retrieve Bobby’s 19″ stringer fish.

Look at the size difference 7″ makes!

What a start to the day! We continued to pound the bottom around the structure far to frequently snagging into an ancient ax cut tree surrounded by numerous rockbass, perch, and apparently hog walleye! We fished two other spots that were similar in appearance but more numerous in fish. We caught 20 walleye total. Five were over the slot, four were in the slot, and the remaining 11 ranged between 12-15.5″. Quite a day for an underestimated fishery! Check out the video of some fish we caught on our YouTube page.

We burned through quite a few jigs due to live action wood bites. We used pink and chartreuse but found no difference in the quality or frequency of the bite. Even with 1/4 jigs the current was moving our jigs at a fairly fast rate on the drop. Walleye fishing in the wood could get expensive!!!

Enjoy a few pictures from our trip.

Even though we saw several pike feeding on the surface, we only brought one into the boat.

Decent river perch

The rockbass were abundant at each log jam we fished!

Watch the stringer grow at each of our stops…

Stop 1-

Stop 2-

Stop 3-

The final shot of the stringer. We both kept three fish. We each had one over and two under the slot.

6-23-12 – Walleye In Wood Part I

The Connecticut River is a vast body of water stretching 407 miles.  The river offers up some great fishing and often times an underestimated fishery.  The winter months offer anglers early ice on the setbacks in late December with chances to catch panfish, walleyes, pike, white perch and bass.  The northern region also holds some very respectable trout.  Fishing the river can sometimes be a challenge.

Summer time walleye fishing is one of my favorite times to fish.  The method I use for catching great numbers of walleye is fishing them in the “wood”.  Most of my vertical jigging has been for crappies when they move out onto deep structure in the summer months.  I use this same pattern to find and catch walleye in Vermont on the Connecticut river.

I look for big bends in the river that will cause debris and logs to jam up during high water times.  Hurricane Irene last spring left us with a lot of this.  Old logs and timber will float down stream and literally pile up on these bends.  The best jams to fish are in 12 feet of water or more.  Once I find a jam, I use my electronics to mark which part of the jam the fish are holding.  Once I’ve done that, it’s just a matter of positioning the boat so you can fish them consistently.  A good bait to rig up on a 1/4 oz jig is the Berkley Gulp Alive Leech.  The trick is getting the bait down through the timber and back up with a walleye without loosing too many jigs.  The action is often times too fast.  Yesterday I had a hard time closing the bail on the reel before a walleye had picked up my bait.  I missed more fish than I boated and I boated 28 walleye is just over 4 hours of fishing.  The technique is nothing special, all I’m doing is bouncing the bait on the bottom, pausing, and bouncing again.  The down stream section of the jam always seems to hold more fish.

This is different from most ways of catching walleye.  It can be frustrating at times but with a little patience and effort you can have a great day on the water.  Here’s some pictures from Saturday June 23 2012 catching walleyes in the wood.

Note:  If you look closely in the first picture you can see what I mean by log jams.

6-22-12 – Backwoods Bassin’

I went out fishing with two of my buddies from high school for a few hours on Friday. We were on the road to a remote pond that has a substantial number of smaller bass shortly after 7am. On the way, we swung by my camp to grab my two other kayaks, then we made the drive in on the class 4 road. After the short portage to the waters edge, we loaded up the boats and started pounding on the bass.

We fished for about 3 hours, making our way around the perimeter two times. Being a small pond, the first lap is basically used to get stable in the boat and get an idea where the fish are holding. The perimeter is shallow, sandy, and in places holds lily pads and green slime but the most difficult aspect of fishing this lake is the loons. As you can see on our YouTube page, I put together a short video with a few clips of some of the close encounters we had while on the water. The loons were swimming around and under our kayaks for well over an hour. After having the loons chase our baits to the boat a few times, we became selective on when we would make casts and when we would move along trying to get away. They were relentless though!

More importantly than the loons was the fishing! We did well overall. Going in, we knew that the size of the bass wasn’t anything to get too excited about the point of the trip was to have some reunion time all to ourselves. We had a great day with temps in the low 80’s, no humidity, little wind, and lots of sun. I caught 34 bass with the biggest being 12″

Mainly we fished Gary Yamamoto 4″ senkos but we also had some luck fishing “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures. The LFT “Live” Baby Shad were as usual fished under a bobber with a quick and twitching retrieve. This method proved to be fairly successful but it was tough not to get snagged with the woody debris and vegetation growing up everywhere. The other method was to fish a senko quickly either top water if possible over the weeds or in open water, wait on a three count and fish it in twitching constantly. The fish were active all day surfacing across the pond.

Check out this video of a few of the fish that I caught.

This is the pond

This is an average bass

6-15-12 – Sightfishing On The River

I had a few hours off today so I decided to go work on my boat to try to get the motor running. I failed yet again so I pulled the motor off and loaded it up in the back of my car. To help drown my misery of boat failure, I decided to go check on a few spots that I have had success with on the Connecticut River.

In an unfortunate turn of events this past week, all of my cameras are out of commission. My underwater point and shoot battery charger is MIA, my GoPro took a bath the other day trying to film underwater trout, and my SLR was at work. You would think with several options, one would be working but no… I had to resort to my cellphone camera. Next time I will be ready!

Now onto the fishing!

The first spot I checked had me very excited! I could see an abundance of gills, bass, and even a few crappie. The hard part was getting them to bite. I tried every bait I had in my box and a wide variety of colors. Although I could get the bluegill to nip at it and move it around, none were committing to it and feeding. I could only get bass and perch to take bigger “shad” style baits. I wasn’t surprised that this was happening with the bluegill though as it was mid-day with a bright and warm sun.

Check out all these fish!

Being that it is summer time and most of the action I have had lately was with crappie, I had left my micro baits at home. Fortunately, I had some J & S Custom Jigs plastics with me. I only had the Gojo Magnum and Ice Mite Magnum though. In order to make the baits more suitable for the finicky fish, I pinched off the thinnest part of the leg and threaded it onto the hook. Growing up, my father always told that fish won’t take the bait unless the tip of the hook is covered. With that lingering in the back of my mind, I covered the entire hook and began catching fish.

The majority of what I was able to catch were smaller fish but no crappie…. The water was very clear and the fish were super spooky. They were constantly popping at the surface. I think a fly rod would have been very effective if I had planned better… I had to downsize my hook selection to a size 4 Bentley ice jig from a 1/16 ounce lead head.

The second spot I tried was a slow moving section of a Connecticut River tributary. The water was clear and there were a few dozen bass still guarding beds. I picked at a few of them and then moved onto a weed bed that was holding some schooling perch. After catching a few of those I moved onto another new species… Rockbass! I haven’t had much luck fishing for these guys lately so I was excited to be able to pull them out of sunken stumps and rock piles. After catching about 35 rockbass sight fishing, I headed further south on the main river.

The last spot I hit was absolutely loaded with fish. Many fish were still actively guarding beds even though we had witnessed at least on spawning session back towards the end of April (see 4-26-12 -Mixed Signals). Check out the moonscape created by the bluegill and pumpkinseeds!

Basically, anywhere on the river that I found a setting like this, it was littered with beds and quite a few fish. They were holding tight to the shore and in a foot of water or less. If you found smaller openings in the weedbeds, that is where I was able to see crappie holding up. I still wasn’t able to catch them though…

I even managed to end the day with a nice finger prick by the smallest fish I caught all day! Lucky me!

6-13-12 – Lake Champlain Crappie On Structure

I went out fishing for a few hours on Lake Champlain with James Vladyka, owner/operator of Fish Hounds Outdoors. It was a great day to be on the water as the wind was nil and the sun was warm. We weren’t able to get out on the water until around 9am and the trip was cut short due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances. The short amount of time that we were on the water produced some quality fish though.

The method we used was Jamies “pendulum theory”. You can find more information on how it works in a post from earlier in the week. “The Lftlures “Live” Baby Shad Does It Again” will tell you all you need to know about it. Fish were caught several colors but the best option was pearl. The fish we were able to hook into were deeper in the water column but there was a fair amount of surface action surrounding us. None of those active fish selected our baits though. The ratio of black to white crappie was pretty evenly distributed.

Here’s a few clips from the trip that we uploaded on our YouTube Page. There were also a few bad releases while on the water today that I had to show

6-9-12 – The Lftlures “Live” Baby Shad Does The Job Again

This past Saturday I made the trip down to fish the southern part of Lake Champlain. I decided this trip would be a good opportunity to continue working with the “Live” Baby Shad made by Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

Our initial experiences with the “Live” Baby Shad were fantastic while fishing them under a bobber for spring time panfish.  This outing would bring a new test.  Now that it is a little later in the summer, the fish have moved from their shallow water spawning grounds out onto deeper structure.  The target areas for the day were submerged pieces of structure in 10-16 feet of water.

I hit the water a little after 7 am and quickly realized that there were multiple bass tournaments taking place. The lake was littered with boats in a hurry to race around to get their bags for the day.  No worries.  The first piece of structure which was located in 10 feet of water.  The graph was showing fish but they seemed reluctant to bite.  Thunder storms had rolled through the area a few hours earlier and stirred everything up, which I’m sure had something to do with the finicky feeding habits of this crappie.

I managed a few fish on this spot vertical jigging off the side of the boat but the action was a little too slow.  The second spot was located a short distance from out first but what a difference in fish activity.  It was now a little later in the morning and the bite was turning on.  After marking the structure with the graph and setting out a few marking bobbers, it was time to fish .   The fish were positioned right off to the sides of the structure in 11 feet of water.  The fish were aggressive and the action was fast.  The most productive technique was the “pendulum swing”.  The idea behind this technique is to cast  just past the structure and let it swing through the strike zone, hopefully keeping it away from the structure. The hot color of the day was the bluegrass pattern.  This color is a combination of blue and green which worked well giving the bait a bright and dark color to contrast in the stained water. Check out the video on our YouTube Page of a few of the fish caught today.

I kept some fish for dinner and made my way off the water.  All in all is was a very productive day for the “Live” Baby Shad.  It caught fish all day long with no hick-ups.  I highly encourage you to try some of these baits. Check out our review on the Lake Fork Plastics.

Here’s a pair of quality Lake Champlain white crappie

6-5-12 – Small Water Brookies

I got out fishing for some small water brook trout in the green mountains for a couple of hours. A few years ago, I was fishing this brook and catching very nice fish for the size of the water. Unfortunately, some people caught on to its quality and pounded it for a few days mid summer. The last two years I didn’t have much luck with size but the numbers have always good.

Due to time constraints, we fished faster than I’d like and just a short stretch but we managed to catch close to 50 trout. The biggest was only 9″ but that is an increase from last summer. Check out the GoPro video on our YouTube Page.

The trick to fishing these small waters is not to overlook any spots that might potentially hold a fish. Most people I know like to fish bigger pools as they tend to be easy to fish and hold the largest specimens. In general, these small brooks have the potential to hold a fish in every hole that offers some protection and especially if the water is deeper. I will drop my bait in just about every spot possible. Brook trout feed aggressively, especially in these small streams, so most times if there is a fish near the bite will be quick.

We fished worms for the entire trip. I like using spinners but treble hooks don’t always work well with their small mouths. I never seem to remember my fly rod either… Maybe next time!

Here’s a few pics from the trip.

At the upper end of the stretch we fished there is a nice bedrock slide. It’s a bit steeper and longer than it looks in this picture. Not to mention slippery!

I even got to end the day with a few bass!

5-28-12 – Turtles on Memorial Day

I was having some troubles with my boat motor running on Memorial Day so it turned out to be a day of hanging out with the family at camp. Towards the end of the day, we found a newly hatched painted turtle right by the dock. There was a smallmouth circling the area so we brought it into a small wading pool that I learned how to swim in. The turtle didn’t want to hang out in the safety of the calm water so we wished him luck and away he went!

It was getting tossed around in the waves

5-26-12 – Memorial Weekend Bass

I had a few hours to kill between lawn and garden duty so I decided to hook up the boat and make a quick trip out to one of my favorite smallmouth lakes.  Upon arrival I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me.  The lot was full of pleasure boats and kayaks and the wind was creating a nice chop on the water.  My plan was to have a little fun sight fishing for bass but the conditions were not going to allow me to do that so well.

I motored to my first spot that year after year holds fish in decent numbers.  This lake is a good size body of water that does not see a lot of intense fishing pressure.  Most days it’s nothing to put 8-10 fish in the boat of two pounds or better.  It was almost impossible to see any beds on the shore as the water was stained and the waves were much larger than normal.  I was forced to rely on my past experiences on this body of water to catch some fish.  It’s very important to pay very close attention to details every time you hit the water, you never know when the conditions will throw you for a loop, or your GPS stops working and you are forced to find areas and small attributes on the lake floor that force you to use your good ole intuition to catch fish.  I focused on two areas in my search for fish, sharp breaks out of deep weed beds onto a hard bottom, and two sand bars that provide smallmouth with a nice warm place to make their beds.

Today the weapon of choice was a faithful 3″inch tube rigged on a weighted hook in pumpkin-seed color.  I was able to see one bed with a fish on it all day and was able to catch a nice 3lber, (this is the first fish caught on the video below.)  After an hour or so of fighting the wind and boat position I decided to use to wind to my advantage and drift the two sand bars I had mentioned earlier.  It was a pretty simple technique.  I positioned the boat so I would drift across the bar and started at the edge (deeper water) and worked my way in.  This worked great and saved a lot of frustration.  I was able to hook into three more fish one being a dink and two that where in the 3lb range. Check out the video on our YouTube Page.

Before two long, the lake was over run with pleasure boaters that apparently didn’t see me fishing so I decided to head off the water feeling pretty good that I was able to catch some fish in such difficult conditions.  It’s important to never get discouraged when you are faced with unexpected situations and conditions.  Trust your instinct and your past experiences to have an enjoyable day on the water.

5-27-12 – Sunny Day On The Water

Because I had to work through the night Saturday, Bobby and I didn’t get on the road until just after 8 am Sunday when I got out. We were launched and pulling into the spot around 10 am and the air was already heating up quickly. Other than the heat while in the direct sun, the day couldn’t have gotten any better. The water was calm besides a few minutes and the fish were biting.

We found two different patterns that produced good numbers of fish. The first was that the fish were holding very tight to shore, shade, and structure. If you could find all three together you would mainly catch big bluegill and better sized crappie. The second pattern was to drift weed flats where the baitfish were schooling up. The crappie were chasing big time but they were mainly chips. We saw a few decent size crappie holding tight in the shade under lily pads in these areas but were relatively inactive.

We tried many baits throughout the day and even though they all worked at times, the best bait selection for the day was a baby shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures in the “black/pink” color. We also had good luck with “violet shad”. Both baits have half of their body as pink but when we tried straight pink we have very little luck. The two tone body was key for the day.

As usual, we fished the baits fast under a bobber. We did well for the most part working the shores casting as close as we could with the baits set down about 14″. It didn’t matter how deep the water was, that was the depth to be at. Any other depth you got nothing but snags. The best gill of the day was 10.5″ and a solid pound. We were a little weak on the size of the crappie with the biggest being only 11″ but we did well with numbers. Here’s a YouTube video of a few of the nicer fish we got in the boat for the day but this video has more of what we saw.

Despite the small crappie size, we did develop a new technique that worked well as the crappie were chasing baitfish.  When we were fishing the pods of minnows that were being chased by crappie, we could get them to bite a fast moving bait but they wouldn’t commit. We found that long pulls to raise the bait in the water column was the best tactic as the crappie were hitting on the fall.