Ice Safety

There isn’t much that chills us to the bone more than thinking about going through the ice. Like anything, it is better to be prepared for when the time comes. Knowing how to handle yourself when exposed to the frigid water can make the difference between life and death. Here is a video of what to do if you go through the ice. It is a good idea to check other videos though because there are several techniques that can be utilized.

In the last two years, I have gotten wet twice but fortunately, never over my waist. The first time, I was helping someone move their shanty after some people had punched numerous big holes all around it. They were punching groups of holes that were 4 x 2 as the ice was fading towards spring. After successfully moving the shanty, I was walking to shore and stumbled into a hole that was completely concealed by snow. Luckily, the water was less than two feet deep and I was already packed up to head home. Sure made for a long hour ride home though! The second time through was my last trip out this past season. I was stepping over open water from ice to the shore and I short stepped it a bit after underestimating the depth at shore. I only went up to my knee because I caught myself on a tree on shore but I spent the next six hours fishing with a wet leg.

Even using every safety measure possible there is no guarantee that you will stay dry. There are a few things an ice fisherman can do to help ease their mind in preparation for an ice outing. There are a number of low profile Personal Floatation life vests on the market today.  It’s not a bad idea to wear one on the first ice of the year and the last.  Of course the most important thing to remember during these periods is to never fish a lone.  Let your family and friends know where you’ll be for the day and when you’re expected to be home.  I usually like to keep a dry set of clothes in my vehicle just in case I do get wet, I’ll have something to change into.

A second piece of safety equipment that I always have on hand are ice picks. I wear them around my neck, tucked into my bibs so that they are always accessible. Early and late season, I also like to carry a long section of rope to throw in case of emergency. Both of these items are inexpensive and don’t take up much room.

Here is a chart that is a good general guide on the strength of of specific ice thicknesses. Keep in mind that ice quality and thickness is not always consistent. Check as you go and stay dry!

10-6-12 – Why Hunt When You Can Fish!

While many outdoor recreation friendly Vermonters were taking to the woods for the opening day of archery deer season, we were loading up the row boat to go catch some crappie on the Connecticut River.

The fish we were chasing roam a deep river channel. The school of fish is large and we have found that the largest fish present lead the way for all. To locate the school, we usually begin by cruising around making long, fast casts with or without a bobber. The active fish usually are suspending 5-10 below the surface in 20+ feet of water. Once we start catching large crappie, we know we have hit it. To track the fish as they move around we have to determine if they are moving up or down the channel.      To stay on the school, it is only a matter of staying ahead of their movements. It would be possible if we were to keeping fish to catch a limit in one pass but we have been releasing all fish in order to maintain a healthy population.

The fish seemed much more spread out today than the previous week.  We actually found the largest concentration of fish in an unusual place for the Glory Hole.  Instead of being suspended over the deep water feeding on minnows they moved up on a  flat and seemed to be feeding on a hatch emerging from the soft bottom.  We boated at least a hundred fish in a matter of hours and decided that it was time to get home and get camo-ed up for the afternoon hunt.  Good day of fishing once again using the “Live” Baby Shad made by LFT Lures.

We put together two videos from our glory hole trip. Check out Ice Fishing Teaser and Opening Day Of Deer Season Crappie Fishing on our YouTube page!

10-5-12 – Connecticut River Panfish

I arrived to the boat launch around 7 am. The sky was just starting to brighten up as the fog was dense and it was suppose to be a warm, sunny day. I figured the fish would bite well will the weather conditions.

On my first pass through my fishing spot, I found good concentrations of bluegill and perch. The fish were holding tight to shore, under limbs of oak trees that were close to the water, and under only the largest lilypads. I didn’t find fish relating to any structure like they usually do at this spot. As I worked along I found pods of fish working minnows in the weeds on the surface in water less than 3 feet deep.

The water was running more clear than usual which was surprising because of recent rains. Usually water visibility here is less than a foot and no sight fishing is possible. As I drifted along I could see many of the fish I was catching but they were easily spooked. As the fog burned off the fishing got more difficult. Once the sky had turned to solid blue, the fish had shut off completely and I headed home shortly after.

I used night crawlers and “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures all morning. I found that the fish were very finicky preferring only the bluegrass color pattern. I tried just about every color in my box with no luck. Most of the fish that I caught on worms were bass and perch. Using these plastics that are 2-1/4″ for bluegill, I catch only the largest fish that bite as their mouths are small . I get many bites that I miss but I prefer to catch the bull bluegills!

Check out Connecticut River Panfish on our YouTube page!

9-30-12 – The “Live” Baby Shad Strikes at the Glory Hole

The last day of September brought Vermonters to the realization that summer has come to an end, fall is here and winter is right around the corner.  With all of our tree stands hung for the upcoming bow season, my good friend Mark and I took the opportunity to check on our favorite crappie spot.  We strolled upon this spot last winter and the amount of crappie in this hole is mind boggling, It has been named the Glory Hole.

I hadn’t been to the Glory Hole since spring so I was curious to see what the fish were up to, and see where they were holding up.  To make a long story short, they are right where we catch them through the ice and they were hungry.  The large school of crappie were roaming the basin and a rather larger setback of the Connecticut River.  As long as you know the contour of the setback you could stay on the fish.  It was one of those days where you can’t really explain how good the fishing was, check with our YouTube page soon for a video of the day.

We used two methods of presentation, jigs under a bobber, and a pendulum swing into the boat to a slow drop.
We first located the fish by making long casts with a 1/16oz jig tipped with the LFT Lures “Live” Baby Shad.  A long cast was made, let the bait drop for a few secs and slowly retrieve the bait.  The slow retrieve would cause the bait to pendulum swing through the water column.  This not only allows you to locate active fish but it also gives you and idea of what depth they are holding at without using any electronics.  The fish were suspended at 11 fow in 23 fow normally, when the fish became more active they moved up into the water column, 5 feet or less.  For the first hour and a half or so we had to work to get the fish to bite, this is usually the case when the fish are holding in one spot, somewhat dormant not feeding much.  We were able to connect one some nice fish.  Mark connected on the first big one.

The fish were concentrated right off from some structure on a break in a holding pattern.  Finally the pod of fish started to moved, this means in this particular spot that they are going to feed.  These fish travel together and chase bait through the channel of this setback.  We now changed our tactics and used a fixed bobber.  When the fish start to feed they become more aggressive thus spreading them out in the water column, mostly up.  The more aggressive and often times bigger fish are found higher in the water column.  These are the fish that we targeted while we used the trolling motor to slowly follow the school back and forth and around and around in the setback.  We saw a lot better quality of fish.

The good bite lasted for about an hour.  Now when I say good bite I mean a fish every cast, and a bite soon after the bait hits the water.  By the end our our four hour trip we boated close to 200 crappie, two pike and two perch.  All fish were released to be caught another day.

“Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures

9-29-12 -Eliminating Patterns

The summer has been a productive one on the river for us with the walleye bite.  We found great fishing in the timber and along shoreline brush.  That action seems to have come to an end.

The surface temp on the river has dropped 12 degrees in two weeks, putting in now at  58.5 degree temp.  The walleye are out roaming, well at least that’s what I’m assuming due to this below average day of fishing.

I was greeted by cool temps and a slight drizzle when I pulled up to the launch on Saturday morning.   It was a good thing I had my Blue Suit made by Ice Armor to keep me warm.  Pulled up to my first spot that has produced awesome numbers this summer as well as two larger than average fish.  The first drop is usually a sure bite, but nothing.  I worked the area more and finally keyed into a change.   The fish were there, maybe not in the numbers that we had seen during the warmer months and they were very lethargic, maybe cold rainy mornings make them stay in bed a lot later too. . . . .  The key to the vertical jigging presentation on this day was to lay the bait on the bottom and slightly lift so that the jig would barely tickle the bottom.  A fast action rod was also key today as most bites we undetectable until you lifted.  I did hook into two nice fish, one shook the jig at the boat and another was a solid fish that got off after I pulled it from the timber, by the looks of the gold I saw when it rolled it was a nice one.  The only fish I boated at all three of my “go to” spots were three short walleye, a couple perch and a rock bass.  Not a good average.

No worries, the fish will move back onto to the structure, it’s only a matter of time before we’re back on the river vertical jigging for walleye.

Check out Another Cold Day On The River on our YouTube page!