2-24-13 – Kids Clinic

The plan for today was to fish in the morning and afternoon. Mid day we were on the roster to help with a kids clinic put on by Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series. The bite recently had been decent but with the way Lake Champlain has been this winter, nothing was certain.

We got on the ice early to try to find fish for when the kids showed up. Because of the recent trend in weather, we didn’t have to punch any new holes in the morning. The past few days were busy enough and the fish were already semi-located.

As we worked through the vast expanse of holes, we found small pockets of fish but no big pods. As the time grew closer to the time that the kids started showing up, so did the fish. The pumpkinseed were running large, the bluegill small, the perch thick and the crappie thin. Throughout the day the bite was steady.

After a brief introduction on ice fishing from Clam pro-staffer James Vladyka, the kids were sent out for more one-on-one teaching. In this session, we taught the kids how to read a flasher, various jigging techniques, and if they were lucky enough, fish identification. The last part of this event was a pizza and prizes ceremony. We had pizza donated from Big Daddy’s Pizza of Burlington and among various clam products and rods, there was a Vermont lifetime license give away.

After the event wrapped up and the spread was loaded back into the trailer, we got to fishing. For the remainder of the day, we located and caught fish on the move. We worked to the end of a 10 foot weed bed where we found a school of constantly roaming crappie. They were working back and forth below us and we picked at them when they came by. It seemed like every time we punched holes the fish turned on both the new holes and old ones.

At the end of the day, we all had a nice spread of fish for the table. It’s always great sharing the ice with guys who have passion and want to promote the future of our sport!

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2-23-13 – VSHTS – Stop 3 – Laphams Bay

The third stop of the Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series was today. With a walk time around 6:10 am, I was on the road at 3:30 in hopes to be early enough to get walking at the start of the line. The weather was predicted to be calm with a chance of heavy snow as the day wore on.

Since the last tournament, there was a big change made to the way that these tournaments are run. Perch were added to the acceptable species listed towards a 6 fish limit. In the past few events the bite has been slow and many people came in without their limit and the bag weights were slim. Perch were added in hopes to allow people to take a different approach and create an event on par with the many others throughout the country. This change also adds potential to expand the competitions into inland ponds in the future.

To start the day, I was on a weedbed in 3-9 feet of water. Within only 10 minutes of the start time, I had my limit of 3 sunfish and 3 perch! My fish weren’t huge but for the rest of the day I could only upgrade what I had. To start the day, I had on all white with a red maggot. The fish were tucked down into the weeds pretty well first thing but were easily worked up above to feed.

As the day wore on, the snow moved in and I started moving around looking for better fish.  After a few big moves throughout the boundaries, shop was pretty much set up in a small area with several other fishermen. There were fish in many of the holes but most of them were small. The reason to stay was that it was a corridor that crappie and perch were using.

For the remainder of the day, I walked in small circles working the holes over and over. I was able to upgrade a few of my fish but still finished in 11th with a weight of 1.87 pounds. My bag was composed of 3 pumpkinseed, 2 perch, and 1 crappie. At the weigh in, I scored a new small sled in the ticket drawing for days where I have to pack light.

I was content with the fishing today and we will both be back with the guys from the VSHTS helping with a kids clinic on Mallets Bay tomorrow!

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2-20-13 – A Short Perch And Bluegill Day

I had a few hours before work today so I got out on the lake to spend a blue skied, windless morning chasing jumbo perch. The perch bite has been slowing up and they are on the move big time now. Being alone, the chase was made a little more difficult but much more rewarding!

I started the day around the area that I had luck the last few trips. It took a few holes to mark a fish on my Vexilar but as usual when I could find them, they bit. I ended up punching close to 150 holes over the next 4 hours and only was able to connect with 15 perch. Stumped on where the fish were, I worked my way towards shore from where the fish had been although I stayed at the same water depth.

A few holes into the string, I hit what I was looking for. In about less than 15 minutes I pulled 19 big perch out of a single hole! My bucket was filling up fast! It was clear when the bite slowed at the spot because the fish were sparse and were a bit more tight lipped. Not wanting to lose the fish I punched holes around the area and began working through. Although I lost the active fish, I managed a few more and walked off with my head up and a 2/3 six gallon full bucket.

I couldn’t resist as I walked off hitting a weedbed for a little bit looking for bluegill. The fish in the particular area have been running a bit small this year but a few fish are better than no fish! After punching holes, I started fishing feeling a crunch for time with a bucket of fish to clean before work in a little over 2 hours.

The fish cooperated with me. I connected with many but kept 11 medium sized gills for the freezer. I threw back a bunch of small fish and a few 9-10″ bulls. Although the bite was slow it was a good way to top off a great morning of pulling the jumbo perch out of deep water!

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2-19-13 – Slow Day On The Ice

We weren’t set up until close to 10 am because of prior obligations but we ended up having our tip ups soaking until about 6 pm. A long day on the ice produced only limited numbers of the fish that we were targeting. We had 15 tip ups set up between three of us and we jigged pretty much all the day. We were running medium shiners in hopes that we would catch a walleye but instead mainly caught pike and perch.

The crappie bite throughout the day was spotty. The fish were there on the edge of a deep water flat where it starts to shelf up into shallower water and weeds. They were fairly concentrated but not overly aggressive which is typical for this spot. Most days it is still easy enough to catch smaller fish but not today. For the fish that we did catch, we had to work hard for them. In general, natural colors seemed to work better and plastics were the key.

As far as the tip up fishing went, the bite was slow as well. For the number of lines we had in the water we didn’t get that many flags. We has some wind flags, a bunch of stolen baits, some run and drops, two fish broke off, and only a few fish that were iced. I think the total number of fish that were caught on tip ups was five.

Although the bite was slow, we iced some fish and learned more information about the area and the fish that we love to chase!

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2-18-13 – Sunny And Cold Bluegill Fishing

I made plans to take my girlfriend out for her first ice fishing excursion today being that it was a holiday. Two days before we went, we decided to cancel do to a weather forecast of temperatures in the low teens and winds in the high 20’s. Being that it was her first trip on the ice, I didn’t want to scare her off and waiting for a warmer day was a better idea. At the last moment, I told her that we were going and sitting in the shack would be sufficient being that we had found a good bite and moving wasn’t necessary.

After running a few errands this morning, we were on the road. A friend was on his way there as well and looking to beat us by a few minutes. So far this morning, the day was gorgeous. The sun was bright and the winds weren’t all that strong. As we pulled up we saw my friend walking out past where we intended to fish. I flagged him down and got him to the spot. As we walked out he was already catching fish.

I gave my girlfriend a full run through of all aspects of fishing today. The first lesson was punching holes. I opened up most of what we needed and then let her make a few herself. The second step was selecting a rod. Then a tutorial on tuning and fishing with a flasher and finally using an underwater camera to find structure and fish. The only part she didn’t need help with was catching fish. Before I even started fishing, she was catching her own.

The fish were running big today and they were on the move. A tip up fisherman near us was running crazy chasing flags. Putting two and two together we figured that the predatory fish were the ones responsible for the movement. For a mid day bit we were having a great trip. The fish weren’t hunkered down in the weeds like normal and they were aggressive when they were below the hole.

After a bit, the wind got to be too cold for Mary so I set her up in the shack. I punched a double hole so that she could sight fish. It was pretty funny to hear her excitement from outside the shack walls. We knew every time a fish swam through. Throughout the rest of the day she caught a bunch of fish. Pretty impressive for only being on the ice a few hours.

At some point during the day, She said she saw a trout swim under her. We doubted it being so shallow and with a very limited population in the lake. Trout roam the deep water here and we figured it must have been a bass. Apparently her underwater fish ID is better than we had though. One of the last drops of the day for my buddy produced a vivid 13-14″ brook trout. A few quick pictures and back down the hole it went.

Mary was happy with the trip and the only thing that took away from it was the wind. She plans to go again but on a warmer day!

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2-17-13 – Jumbo Perch And Crappie

We hit the road early this morning looking to get on a deep water perch bite. The skies were overcast and dry but the wind was howling. The day was suppose to be pretty consistent with winds in the high teens to low 20’s and gusts higher. The weatherman was spot on!

As we started dropping our lines, we found perch scattered randomly but never concentrated. We were working a deep mud flat where the fish cruise and feed actively throughout the morning hours feeding on blood worms. In general, if a fish showed up on the Vexilar screen, it bit. Hooking up was a different story.

We were both fishing a drop shot rig with brightly colored jigs. Getting down to these fish in a quick manner is probably the most important part of our set up. In order to get through the water column, our flashers on the end of the line weigh up to 1.5 ounces. On this trip, we were both running orange jigs with the main difference being that one had a glow back and the other had chartreuse. We saw no difference as we both caught about the same number of fish.

Shortly after the perch started biting, we were moving. These fish roam constantly and keeping up with them and figuring out what path they are taking is the most difficult part. After about 1.5 hours, of picking at the fish, we had lost them to a point where we went an hour without seeing a fish. As we worked along various paths we have seen these fish run, we made a last ditched effort and checked a spot that we rarely see them.

After punching holes, we started to work through them. We went a few holes and finally found fish. They would come check baits but not touch at. After spending about five minutes working a single hole, I finally had a fish come in with aggression. The strange part was that this fish came in from above my six foot zoom on my flasher. The fish also hit my top jig being only the second perch to do this so far this winter. I lost the fish before it got to the top of the hole and that was when we decided that the bite was off for the day.

With the morning bite over, we figured a warm lunch and a break from the relentless wind sounded much more enticing than any more punishment. After lunch and the ride home, there was one more spot to tackle and look for some crappie and a few more perch.

After repacking my truck with the necessary gear, I picked up a buddy and we were on our way. From 3-5:15 we were fishing completely different than I had all morning. The difference took a few fish to adjust from pounding the bottom to finessing fish coming through suspending.

We ran Maki Plastics on Bentley jigs in order to put these fish on the ice. The crappie fishing was slow until about 4:45 but in the first hour we had no issue icing perch, pumpkinseed, and bass. As the day wore on, the fish started to suspend higher and higher.

When the crappie turned on, it was really on. We checked holes all over but only had good luck out of one. At one point I was fishing in 12 FOW and had fish stacked throughout the whole water column. We took turns pulling out 11″ crappie one right after another. They were hitting best on glow plastics tipped with a maggot. But in reality they were smacking everything we threw down there as long as it was falling.

As soon as the bite started, it stopped. Before it was dark out we were packing up the truck and headed home. The fish were pretty easy to read this evening and we were thankful they gave us the nod that they were done and that it was time to head home and finally escape the wind for a few hours before hitting the ice again tomorrow!

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2-14-13 – A Crappie Valentine’s Evening

With a few hours to kill before my wife came home from work, I decided to take a ride in search of a few crappie for dinner.

I arrived to the pond a little before 4 pm and punched 6 holes in the area that usually holds a few decent crappies, perch, and pumpkinseed.  The first hole I fished was the most productive of them all producing many perch and a few seeds.  I fished around those holes for and hour or so without a crappie sighting so I decided to make a small move.  I had found a nice weed flat adjacent to deep water this summer and thought I would punch a few holes on the inside turn.  I cut two holes and dropped the transducer for my Vexilar FL-18 down the hole.  I was met with 12 feet of water, this is usually a little shallower than I thought the crappie would be holding in this pond but I have it a shot.  I usually don’t fish a hole in deep water for crappie unless I’m marking suspended fish, but thinking to myself that I wasn’t really in deep water I should drop my bait down and see what happens.  My bait reached three feet under the ice and I was all of a sudden marking a big red racing up towards it.  I was using a Bentley tungsten jig with Maki Plastics.  The fish literally pounded the bait and out came crappie number one.  The times in the past when I have fished this body of water had been slow but productive.  I had never caught more than one crappie out of a hole and I had never caught more than six in an outing.  Well to make a long story short the next 45 minutes ended up being the best crappie fishing I have ever had in my life in terms of numbers, aggressiveness of the fish, and overall quality.  It was stacked with fish, they were marking from 5 feet all the way down to 12 feet of water, and they were hungry.  At one point my plastic ripped off and I was catching 11 inch crappie on nothing other than the glow jig.   I iced 52 crappie in about 45 minutes of fishing, and that was even with a stop to teach a local about the Vexilar.

It was a fantastic outing, one of best I have experienced.  I hope to get back there for a morning bite to see if the fish are as aggressive as they were that night.  The best part was that I managed a limit for the freezer and still made it home in time to clean fish and await the arrival of my wife.

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