12-28-12 – After The Storm

After the recent snow storm that dumped about a foot over our area, the quality of the little ice we had was a major concern. Venturing out today, I found that the pond I was on still had the solid 4″ of ice it did prior to the storm as well as 2″ of slush and only 4″ of snow. There was a large wet spot out on the middle of the pond that I stayed clear of.

I targeted a depth range varying from 13-22′. I caught every one of my pumpkinseed in 16′ of water and all of my perch deeper. The fish were very finicky today even though they were loaded up on my Vexilar’s zoom. Just about every fish that I caught I didn’t have to work too hard to get to bite. As I would drop my bait they would charge it. There was a lot of static fish below the ice today and regardless of what I put in front of them they didn’t want it.

I found the magic presentation to be a size 3 green Bentley Bumble Bee with a black Jamei from Maki Plastics. As the temperature dropped during my stay on the ice, the fish went from stacked on my flasher screen to completely gone out of all of my drilled holes. It didn’t take me too long to realize that they had all vacated the area and gone else where in the pond. Being that I was only our for a short stay, I called it a day and headed home.

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12-24-12 – Crappie Eve Crappie

With ice forming slowly in Vermont, it’s a risk going out alone. Luckily, we had a crew of four for this trip to a new body of water. Prepared with rope, picks, and floatation devices, we felt the odds were on our side. Knowing the general contour of the body of water, we started our search deep. It didn’t take long to find some fish on the flasher that mimicked the pattern that a crappie will normally follow. They were suspending over deeper water and on the move.

As we started fishing, the fish that we were pulling through the hole ran on average 8-9″. It was a pod of all crappie with a few shiners mixed in. We fished all plastics without ever putting a single maggot on for the day. The keys to catching fish were Maki Plastics and Micro Spoons and Jigs. We fished the Spiiki and Maki from Maki Plastics with red being the best color and the STB Grub by Micro Spoons in the Sunrise color.

As we picked through the fish looking for some of the better sized specimens we managed to pull a few that hit the 12″+ mark. We also hit a new size class that incorporated some of the smallest crappie we had ever seen! With fish in the 3-4″ range our rods weren’t bending much…

Seeing fish like this put a new spin on what we thought we had previously known about crappie in our area. Usually a fish after it’s first year will be about 6″. With the slow growth that comes in the winter, it is hard to imagine that these fish will put on another 2-3″ over the next few months when they will hit their one year mark in the spring. Maybe there was a late spawn or even a second spawn. The underwater world always keeps us guessing!

Check out some of our footage from our trip on our YouTube page in the Christmas Eve Crappie video!

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12-23-12 – First Full Day On The Ice

Heading out to new water, we decided that we should wait till it was light out to go out and start exploring. The ice on this pond is known to be inconsistent due to springs. As we cautiously worked out, we found 5″ of good black ice and 2″ of white ice. Everywhere we went, we found great numbers of perch but only a few of these were decent sized. The key to catching the bigger fish seemed to be plastics. More specifically, anything in the color red by Maki Plastics. We used the Maki and Jamei to key in on the larger perch below the ice. P1040477

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After catching all the perch we could handle, we parted ways with our morning spot in search of new and more productive waters. Knowing what was needed in our sled we consolidated so it wasn’t overflowing so bad.

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The second lake that we hit didn’t have as much ice as the first . Working slowly and very cautiously across the ice we hit a max of 4 inches but that was closer to shore. As we inched out across a deep basin, the ice thickness fluctuated from 3-4″ and there was a noticeable amount of change in it’s hardness. Some spots it would take three good hits with the spud to get water while others it would take one. Although we fished our way out and had pretty good luck with nice sized perch, we had one spot in mind where we wanted to get.  Once we arrived at the spot we started catching the numbers and size of fish we thought we would.

We found aggressive fish that would charge our bait as it made its way down. Mainly, we caught perch but as dark approached the number pumpkinseed in the area increased dramatically. The crappie that were in the area came randomly right in the mix with the rest. Before it got too dark, we figured it would be a good idea to retrace our steps off the ice on the track that we knew was somewhat safe.

You can see some of our footage on our YouTube page in Early Ice Success!

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12-20-12 – The Outdoor Gazette

Recently, we partnered up for a monthly spot in The Outdoor Gazette which is focused on “stories from your neck of the woods.” Hunting, trapping, and fishing are among the various topics covered and Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine are some of the locations that are represented. This was a magazine found on newsstands everywhere but has gone paperless and now can only be found online. Appropriately, we will be focusing our section on fishing stories and techniques in the great state of Vermont. Check out and like their facebook page as well!

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Our first article was published in the December issue titled “Tournament Fishing Vermont – Small State, Big Competition” on page 35. Take a minute to check it out as well as all of the other great articles for your enjoyment!

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Our plan is to try to incorporate different modes of fishing through the year showing what helps us be successful for whatever species we are after. Currently we are plotting out some of our potential topics. We have schemed up these topics for this ice fishing season: sight fishing bluegill, tip-up/jigging lakers, chasing deep water roaming perch, and  big baits for big crappie.

If you have any topics you would like to see covered contact us and we will see what we can do.

12-18-12 – Some Fish And Some Open Water

Prior to our most recent storm, we had a bit of ice around Vermont. Between the snow and rain that fell, the ice weakened under the weight and insulation provided from the precipitation. Now the only option for decent ice seems to be to travel so that’s what I did.

I met up with a buddy for a short road trip to New York shortly after 7 am. The commute provided me with temperatures in the mid 30’s, rain, and slush covered roads. The hike into the back country lake wasn’t much better. From the point where we crossed Lake Champlain till the time we parked the truck, most of the precipitation was snow. As we walked the half mile or so into the pond the snow switched to rain.

The day before, the ice on the lake was solid and the snow on top was powder. As we crested the last hill to the pond we found a much different image. The wet spots that streaked across the lake and melted out scattered pockets made us feel uneasy but we made it this far we had to at least look.

Walking out onto the lake we used a a spud bar to get a gauge of ice consistency. At first we were getting two hits for water and three to open a hole. With 6-6.5 cranks on the Nils hand auger we had a good 3.5″ of ice. Working our way out slowly, we began to realize that the ice was not in very good shape and reaching the deep water where the crappies hold up might not actually happen.

As we worked north the ice consistency went in patches. We were never standing on less than 3.5″ but the ice hardness went from three hits with the spud to just one. Making the best of the trip, we started fishing our way out. We found lots of eager perch holding tight on the bottom from 8-15 feet. After a while of fishing, we found that the ice around the holes got pretty weak as the water spread. We made the easy decision that no fish, especially perch, were not worth risking our safety so we worked our way off the pond and back to the truck.

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After the somewhat failed attempt at fishing deep water slabs we returned to hitch up to the boat and go search for perch no a lake that I had never even seen before. With two guys that know the lake very well, we launched and headed out to see what we could find. The water temperature on the north end of the lake was two degrees colder than that of the south coming in at just over 38.

We checked what seemed like every spot on the lake that is known to hold jumbo perch that we were after. After a while of cruising around and not marking any of the large bait balls or huge schools of perch that are so well known in the lake, we called it a day.

Sure this day won’t go down as one of the best but I got to fish on ice and out of a boat in the same day with with some friends. Not to mention we caught a few fish! Good enough for me!

12-14-12 – First Day On The Water

We welcome you back to the original intent of this blog; ICE FISHING! As the ice belt starts to thicken, we are all chomping to get out there and walk on the water. Some places in New England have been on the water for a few weeks now while others, like here, are just beginning to show signs that winter is here to stay. Hopefully!

We checked several ponds this morning that are known for early ice. The first spot is our usual go to honey hole for early ice and is loaded with decent perch and sunnies as well as bass, suckers, shiners, and bullhead. No go. It looked like the shores had just froze up last night with a measure of only 3/4″. There was a definite line of better ice out in the middle but was unreachable even with planks. Onward to the next spot with dry legs!

We found a better spread of ice upon arrival at our second location. We punched holes around a small area over shallow water finding enough ice to support our weight. Being early in the morning, the shores were still locked up tight. We began in an exposed section of the pond but quickly realized that we weren’t going to be able to get into deeper water that had enough ice for us to venture on because of the elements. With that knowledge gathered, we moved around to a shaded side of the pond hoping to to find more ice as the water dropped off to 9 feet fast.

Our move provided us with slightly better ice but still a lack of fish. We were in a pocket that usually holds decent numbers of fish in the summer but apparently not so much in the winter. After 45 minutes of fishless jigging and lots of cracking and popping under our feet, we decided to pack it up. We thought that we would go look for ice on waters that we were more familiar knowing that this might be the only ice we would be able to walk on.

We checked two more ponds and found no ice that would support our weight further than a few feet from shore so we called it a day right around lunch.

All in all it was a good day and being back out on the ice is a great feeling. Sure catching one tiny pumpkinseed would have tied the day all together but we got out on early ice and did it right. We fished in a pair, checked ice very often, stayed close to each other but not so close as to stress the ice, were prepared with rope, picks, and floatation devices, and had a plan if a situation came up. A lot of people told us that we were crazy for going out on these conditions but we used our heads and left when we felt the ice was worsening.

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The ice wasn’t doing so hot when we were leaving. Cracks were showing through and the shores were slowly pulling away. P1040475