1-28-13 – Pressure Systems Hurt And Helped The Fishing

The intent for today was to find crappie on a pond that hasn’t been checked by up with year. The body of water is large and composed mainly of a large basin. We figured that is where we would find many of the fish holding up. The day was warm in the mid 20’s with light and variable wind with a chance of precipitation later in the day.

The morning bite was not on. We marked plenty of fish on our flashers but none were too aggressive. Throughout the entire morning, we punched a ton of holes but only caught 2 crappie and maybe two dozen dink perch. Close to 10 am we decided that we would be better off heading out to another pond that was similarly structured with a deep water crappie bite.

Pulling into the second lake the snow flakes started to fly. We fished for quite a while before catching anything the fish we were after. In about 2 hours we caught 3 crappie, a few white perch, and way too many 4″ yellow perch. Not knowing what to do we worked every way that we figured a moving pod of crappie could do.

In the end we worked into slightly shallower water that has held fish in the past. Working from 30′ to about 20′ was a nice change as our baits make it to the bottom in quite a bit less time! The first few holes were dry but about four holes in, I brought up the first decent crappie. Following that, nothing happened. we worked through a bunch more holes with nothing going on. Taking a minute, we talked about how the white out conditions were not that enjoyable and heading home was probably the best option.

As a last ditch effort, I ran back through our most recent set of holes looking for another quality fish for pictures. The snow was starting to let up and I only wanted one! The very last hole in the set was the best sight all day. Putting my Vexilar down I saw four fish on the screen. As I worked my bait down, a fish charged up almost 10 feet to meet it’s free ride to my hand. Hollering to my buddy and waiting for him to show up, I caught six more crappie. As he walked up, I told him to drop. We went fish for fish until the hole went dry.

When the fish were gone I punched more holes in the direction we thought they went. The plan was a success. We followed them through 3 of the 5 holes I punched catching a good deal of fish. As the fish disappeared again we did the same thing. For four sets total, spanning about 100 yards, we followed the fish taking turns catching them.

Once the fish got away from us, we decided to pack it up before the roads got any worse. We learned a lot today about following the fish on this new lake and a good route that they take from a 20′ flat into their 30′ bowl. Staying mobile was the key to our limited success today and we might have had some help from the weather. The best success we had today started just as the snow let up and lasted for about 40 minutes until the snow started coming down hard again.

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Some of the best ice I’ve seen this year. Up to 16″ in some spots!

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1-27-12 – Informative And Slightly Productive

After being at work for the last 4 days, it felt good to be back on the water. Unfortunately, prior obligations for most of my fishing partners had be hitting the ice alone. The day before the weather made fishing tough. Although it was blue bird skies the wind and single digit temperatures made fishing outside of a shack almost impossible. For my trip, the same weather was predicted just a bit warmer.

I arrived on the ice shortly before day light. By the time I was dropping my first line the sky was just starting to lighten up. At first the bite was good. Most holes held fish and most of those fish were decent bluegill. As I worked west the fishing got better. At least the amount of sun that was hitting me was better. The first time through the long series of holes over a thin weed bed produced the best results. When I worked back through productive holes I found that the fish were a bit more timid to my jig.

To give the holes a rest, I hit a 9′ channel that runs through a good chunk of water. At one end I was able to catch a few perch and bluegill. The more I worked towards the center of the channel, the better the fishing got. As the pattern began to piece itself together, crappie began to come out of the holes at a much better rate. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. The fish moved under a set of tip ups with an angler who was obviously less than impressed that other people were fishing anywhere near him. Knowing it was time to move, the initial weed bed was calling my name.

The weed bed was loaded with fish but many were unwilling to bite. The bite throughout much of the day was slow but as long as I stayed mobile, I was able to keep icing fish. Looking around with my underwater camera, I realized how many fish there really were under the ice. Knowing what was there made it all that much more frustrating. With a slow bite I decided to go try a new area.

With a few spots in my mind, I made my way to them. The first spot I checked was untouched from what I could tell. Not wanting to risk going out alone I went to another spot. I talked to a few fishermen who gave a report of a very slow bite.  With no real motivation at this point in the day to go search out new fish, I went back to my original holes.

The rest of the night was a good time on the water to watch fish but not to catch them. The majority of my time on the ice till dark was spent watching fish on my camera. Hole after hole, I had fish cruising high and low with no interest in my presentations. It didn’t take me long ditch my Vexilar and jig stick and just try to figure out what kind of movement the fish stick to. I was able to follow a pod of crappie for quite a ways before I called it a night. Hopefully with my new information, my next trip will be more successful!

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1-26-13 – Cold Day To Be A Crappie

Having been tied up with other responsibilities for the past two weekends and not able to fish I was excited to get back on the ice.  I decided to make a day trip to a spot 2 hours away.  We arrived at our location with decent conditions.  The mercury was finally above zero for the first time in five days, and the wind at this point wasn’t an issue.  I loaded my shack and made the 80 yard walk to where I would be fishing for the day.

I drilled out an area, shallow to deep.  It’s always a good idea to cut your holes first thing, one it will save you time later and two, it will spook the fish only once if the fish are sensitive to sound.  I started fishing the deep hole to begin with.  The vex was marking fish in 16 feet of water all through the water column.  First drop produced a small crappie, second drop, small crappie.  One thing that I have noticed about this spot is that these fish school in relation to size most of the time.  If you’re catching small fish you’re in a nursery school of fish.  I made a move to the next hole working my way out of the deeper water up towards the shallower shelf.  Right off the bat I hooked into a heavier fish, bass.  OK; well now I know the bass are set up waiting for those small crappie to make a mistake, I made another move, this time more drastic.  I found ten feet of water, fish were stacked on the bottom four feet.  First drop was a beautiful 13″ crappie.  Next few fish were all decent in size, bigger than before.  We continued to work the 10 foot range and were able to produce several decent fish through out the course of the next few hours.

As the morning went on the wind picked up and it became difficult to fish outside of our shacks.  As the sun went higher the fish slid shallower.  This is something we have noticed before while fishing setbacks off the main river.  The fish tend to seek out more cover even if it means going shallower when deep holes are present.  Large weed flats are great places to find active fish during high light conditions.  Another important thing to note was that the fish were not tolerating a presentation for long.  I was constantly changing my jigging cadence and my Maki Plastic to keep the fish interested.  These plastics teamed with a Bentley gold colored tungsten jig worked well for both the deep and shallow water applications we used today.

All in all it was a good day, unfortunately I wasn’t able to “fish” the way I wanted to as was confined to my shack for comfort.  It was a good day learning a few new tricks and applying some older ones to be successful.

1-22-13 – Sure, Why Not Some Trout

Sure catching panfish on just about every trip is fun but it is nice to switch things up once in a while just to know we can still do it! Planning on sleeping in a bit and not meeting a buddy until 6:30, I hit the road only a few minutes late. The 40 minute drive from my house was converted into a a little over an hour on decent roads with extra cautious drivers. Being late is not something I am use to because I don’t like missing morning bites!

As the tips ups were being set out, the first flag popped. Of course it was the furthest flag we had out but the reel was spinning fast! Taking a second to catch my breath we decided the first flag was mine. As I pulled the tip up out of the water the fish kept moving. Quickly, I set the hook and began to retrieve my fish. As it screamed by the hole on the first pass we determined it was a young brown. As it came out of the hole we took a few pictures and removed the hook that was right in its beak. After releasing the fish we continues setting out our spread.

After we put 14 tip ups out we took a minute to rig up a jigging rod to hound some perch. The holes that we were looking for perch in were stacked but in 40 feet of water. The fish were aggressive but setting the hook didn’t go so well. After catching only one nice perch to several small ones we went back to relaxing and watching our tip ups.

From that point on the day went downhill fast. The wind picked up with gusts into the 30’s and the temps had to be in the single digits. The combination of the two ended our trip early. After cooking a venison and hotdog lunch, we decided that we were full, happy, and cold and that going home was our best option. The next fish that we caught on a trip up was as we picked up for the day.

In the end, we both got to catch a trout and eat some good food. When I arrived home, the wind was blocked by the trees and I felt bad for going home early. I think theres another tip up trip in the near future! It’s nice to sometimes sit back and relax.

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1-21-13 – Back To Fishing!

After four days of being stuck indoors working at the Yankee Sportsman Classic in Essex Vermont, it was finally time to get back to fishing! The weather was cool but that was not a concern with my edge suit from Ice Armor.  The trip down was uneventful until about 20 miles from our destination. Coming around a sharp corner, we caught up the rest of our convoy who was halted with a flat tire on a trailer. After repairing the  issue we got back on the road.

About 30 minutes later, we were fishing. The chill in the air had our freshly drilled holes freezing over quickly. With a quick kick to clean out the hole, it was no issue being able to get the jig down to the fish. Going hole to hole good numbers of fish seemed to be harder to find than usual.

To start the day the bite was decent. Some nice fish were spread throughout the large area that we usually fish. As the day wore on the bite slowed but the fish were still present. Using a camera, we checked high and low for the flat fish that we were after. Unfortunately, the bite never seemed to pick up. Around 3 pm, we decided that we had grinded it out long enough and we would start working back towards the parking lot through the holes that we had punched. If nothing picked up by then we would call it a day.

After a pleasant chat with the local warden after getting off the ice we because informed that the bite over the last week had been pretty slow throughout the area. Planning on fishing tomorrow, we had a large area that we didn’t feel the urge to fish again!

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1-16-13 – Giant Bass And A Trout

I started fishing this morning at a spot that normally produces throughout the day. Being that it was a Wednesday, I only had a few hours till I had to get into work so I was hoping for a morning bite. The weather was pretty nasty so getting to the spot took a little longer than usual. With snow in the air and a slight breeze across the ice, I started punching some holes.

With fresh holes, A buddy and I stared making our way through the grid looking for what was below us. The were there and we caught a bunch of bluegill, rockbass, and pumpkinseed. As the sun rose higher, the quality of panfish decreased quickly. The longer we stayed the more frustrated we got. Finally coming to our senses around 10, we packed up and headed to a pond that we had talked about but never tried through the ice.

After obtaining permission to access the lake from a side that allowed us to shorten out walk on significantly we loaded up the sleds for the second time of the day. With life jackets on and ice picks ready around our necks, we began walking out to the starting point we intended to fish. The ice was about 4″ everywhere we went. Soon enough, we had a large area over deep water dissected and ready for fishing.

A few holes into the area I marked a fish right on the bottom. Looking for bluegill this was a welcomed sight in 32 feet of water! The drop down to the bottom seemed to take forever and when I reached the bottom the results weren’t much more impressive. I worked the fish five times before giving it a break. I checked a nearby hole to see if the fish had slid over.

With no fish nearby, I went back to the original hole. On the drop back down, a mark started to rise. Thinking it was a ghost mark I dropped right by it continuing on to the bottom. As I passed it, the fish turned and chased it down. Realizing it was a fish I cranked back up and hooked up with the first fish of the day. After bring in the fish another 20 feet I had a 14″ rainbow on the ice.

Being that trout season was not yet open, we kept moving and searched a bit shallower. Targeting a 25′ flat, we punched a bunch of holes. A few drops into the section, I snapped off on a large fish as soon as I turned it. With no time to think about what happened, I retied and quickly had to drop my rod to help my buddy with his first catch!

As I turned around to see my buddies rod doubled over with the drag screaming, I pulled out my camera phone and started recording. After about three minutes of battling, the fish finally made its way through the thin ice. When you have to pull a fish through a 6″ hole you know it’s a good one! As the fish squeezed through the hole, its 24.5″ length amazed us of what we had stumbled upon! Not only is this fish spectacular for Vermont, it would be a trophy fish through the ice anywhere. After a few pictures we stuffed the fish back down the hole and got back to fishing.

The next hour was slow. We looked shallow, deep, and in weeds for the magic depth that was holding bluegill with no luck. All in all it was a decent way to spend the hours leading up to work!

Check out Giant Bass on our YouTube page for more footage!

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1-15-13 – Crappie Day

The plan for the day was to put on some miles searching out new water for crappie. Lots of miles and lots of crappie actually. At 5 am, the truck was packed and we were rolling. Blue skies and warm temps were in the forecast to make fishing today a delight!

The fish pounded from before sunrise till about 7:15. Mainly, the bite was composed of pie plate bluegill which is nothing to complain about! In a little over three hours, I caught 18 crappie amongst a bunch of bluegill and perch. The bite was happening but not as quickly as we had hoped. With other spots in mind we packed up and headed out.

The next spot we worked ended up being the final spot of the day. After about 20 minutes of catching nothing but chip bluegill and pumpkinseed, we hit the mother load. We were looking in deep water for fish that weren’t there. With a set of holes running shallow into 6 feet we found them up on the shelf stacked thick.

A normal hole would produce 10-15 crappie before having to move. Luckily, we were fishing old tip up holes so we didn’t have to punch many risking scattering the fish that were there. After catching fish out of most of the holes that were already there we decided to punch in the appropriate more making more water available to fishing.

The holes all seemed to hold fish and in most cases the initial drop produced the most aggressive and largest crappie in the area below. The water on this day was very clear. If I had used my shack I think sight fishing would have been very effective. As soon as I would set the hook, the fish was revealed as its dark back gave way to its bright golden side.

Most days and tips we would give would tell you when using a flasher to never drop your bait right to the fish. You want to stop a foot or two above and make the fish come to you. The fish on this trip wanted nothing to do with that. Using a Vexilar, each hole was easily determined on whether it was worth fishing or not. Looking for fish stacked up on the bottom, I would drop down as soon as they appeared. Rather than the typical jigging action above the fish, I would drop right down into the pod of fish and quickly work my bait back up above them. Very few instances I would not have a follower.

Although the fish needed a different jigging method than usual, I ended up landing 148 crappie. When the fish were below a hole it was not uncommon to catch them by the dozen!

Check out Mostly Crappie On The Ice Today on our YouTube page!

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