4-23-13 – Tight Lipped Fish

The temperature this week hasn’t cooperated with us. It seems like we are always a day behind the bite with our choice of locations this week. We like to that we are a day ahead though as the bites have alternated days regardless of weather… This morning, the weather said it was suppose to get into the high 50’s with little to no clouds or wind. In reality, it couldn’t have been further from the truth.

On the water just before 8, the morning air was still cool. The water was just under 48 and only rose one degree all day where the fish were holding. We made a long run trying to locate fish only to find 51 degree water void of fish. Still with the cold in the air, we ran back. On the way we took a break to warm up and watch an eagle sitting in a tree.

The rest of the day we putted around and located fish occasionally with no consistency. All the fish that we did find were set up on a shallow island, covered in decaying weeds. We were working a Lake Fork Trophy Lure “Live” Baby Shad 2-3 feet under a bobber at a slow pace. We used pearl and fire perch with equal success.

There isn’t much to say about this day. It seemed like all forward progress to the spawn this week was lost but it is only a matter of time until the water warms up enough for things to really start happening!

Check out the last picture to see the feeding frenzy!

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4-21-13 – Pre-Spawn Crappie and Chubby Gills

With temps in the low 20’s, we weren’t rushing out the door this morning. We knew the bite wouldn’t pick up until the water temperature did. We were guessing on the way down that the water would be between 47 and 48 because of the recent weather. Today, it was suppose to warm up but wearing our blue suits from Ice Armor was still a good idea.

After launching the boat and letting the transducer adjust to the water temperature, our guess of 47-48 degrees was a little low. It was actually hovering at 46. For much of the morning, the fish were inactive. It took a while for us to catch a fish and even longer to stay put in one spot that held multiple. We did see that as the water warmed the fish became more active.

At first, the bites were very light. The fish weren’t committing and getting hook ups proved very difficult. As the water warmed the bites came more frequently and much harder. We found one sweet spot as the water temperature peaked. There was a warm pocket of water pushed up in a corner. It was 54 and we were sitting in 52. As we would work our baits from shore back towards the boat, we found that the crappie were stacked up on the edge of an isolated weed patch. They were hanging 2-3 feet down in 8 feet of water.

This bite lasted for a while but we found that it was spotty. We were only able to catch a handful of fish at a time before they would stop biting. The best method we found was to back out after catching a few and then return after checking other spots then to get back in quietly. We could tell the fish were aggressive by the way that our bobbers went down. There was no slow and steady pull. Instead, it was a fast pull and run with no problems with hookups.

The crappie bite only lasted for a little over an hour before shutting off. Fortunately for us, the bluegill finally had woken up and were active. For these, we set our bobbers a little higher and fished in shallower water, in the weeds, and closer to the bottom. Most bites came as soon as a cast hit the water but if not they wanted it moving slowly.

We used three baits today. Because the water was cold, the fish were mostly inactive. We used our go to plastic the “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures. This bait produced some slabs but also quite a few short strikes. For crappie, the best bait was a 1″ Gulp! Minnow. For bluegill, the top producing weight was the old faithful worm.  Sometimes live bait just outproduces everything else!

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4-20-13 – Shoreline Crappie

After a last ditch effort to catch walleye from shore, and longbeards strutting in front of my truck, I decided to salvage the day and fish a small but usually productive setback from shore. The water was high and flowing out of the setback which usually means a bad bite from our experience. I tried the riverside opening with no success and a fast moving bobber in the current.

I worked my way up the shoreline with the wind at my back. I was hoping that the wind blew all the warm surface water up into the sheltered end of the cut. When I was almost to the sheltered end, I caught my first bluegill. It was also the smallest fish of the day! From my vantage point, I could see the shore the wind was blowing against had fish popping. It appeared that the fish were holding in a very small area maybe the size of twin sized mattress

I kept working my way around the shore line, paralleling where the fish were. From here, I had two thick weed patches that when I hit it right, would catch a fish every time. If I could cast past the weeds and drag it directly between the two patches, they would bite. When I had success, I was throwing a 1/16 ounce pink jig head with a gulp 1″ minnow under a bobber. I tried using larger baits first but these fish were looking for something specific. Also the water was still cold so offering these fish a slow moving, small bite enticed them even more.

For a while, the wind helped but eventually it brought the demise of the stellar bite. The fish scatted because the wind continued to blow cooler water in.. I stayed for another half hour, fanning my casts over the entire area. Unfortunately, the fish were done biting and the water had significantly cooled.

Moral of the story- pay attention to the wind, sun, and calm water… It can heavily dictate the amount of your success of failure.

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4-17-13 – Last Resort

After seeing the walleye and other action that Bobby had last night, I couldn’t resist going to give it a shot myself. I figured I would get there early because the bluebird day would shut the bite off early. Having never been there, finding the sweet spot too a bit. As it turned out, I didn’t successfully land any fish there but I had a little action.

Learning to differentiate the difference between a rough bottom and current compared to a bite took a bit. I had a few instances where I thought I had a bite but wasn’t positive. Pulling my jig from the water my worm would be gone leaving me to believe that It was a fish. It wasn’t until I had my rod double over that I knew there was a fish on! I caught the fish in slack water. As I brought it slowly in, I fought the fish gingerly as it worked in and out of the current. About half way in the fish rose to the surface, revealing that it was a walleye, and started to roll. I tried to work my way towards slack water with the fish but it was able to make its way back into the current and shake loose.

With the next few hours warming and fishless, I packed it up and went to check some other water for bluegill and pumpkinseed.  After checking a few spots and feeling the water, I realized that it was still too cold for the intended species to be in the area. My last resort was to go try to pluck some brook trout from some small mountain streams.

I went high thinking that the water flows would be lower and less murky. I was spot on with the clarity of the water but it was still plenty high. I worked a jig head rather than sinkers thinking that I would be able to get my bait lower in the water column to where the fish were. After missing a few fish, I put on snelled hook with a worm and started casting to any slack water that I could find. This method proved to be effective. The fish were rising to the surface so having my bait on the surface worked well. I was able to catch 6 small brookies before having to head home for work.

Even though the fish weren’t flowing right to my hook, a day of fishing is always great!

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4-16-13 – Really Chasing Warm Water

So a week ago I was down fishing for staging crappie (Chasing The Warm Water). We had some trouble staying on fish but only when the wind was blowing. When the wind would let up, the sun was warm enough to warm the water up enough to draw the fish out of the deeper, cool water and into the warm shallows. For this trip, we had a warm up over night that cooled down throughout the day. Some spots stayed warmer longer but not all held fish.

We started the day where we had all the luck just a week ago. Cruising in, the fish were no where to be found were they were before but at the very end of navigable water, we found some. We picked about 15 fish before  the wind switched on us and started to cool the water. Th e majority of the fish in there were small. Making radius casts around the boat, an osprey swooped down and grabbed a decent sized crappie from where we motored through to get in. We quickly hoisted anchor and got out to where the fish was taken from. No dice. The fish were either not there or completely inactive. Our best bet was to go searching.

We checked several spots with no luck. We had trouble finding water that reached much more than 47 degrees. With the main lake in dismay because of the steady wind with gusts into the high 20’s, we came up with a plan that, if ineffective, would lead us off the water and to dinner.

The first spot we checked appeared to be cold and vacant. We worked both shores, the middle, and then back towards the main lake. Nothing was happening until the it opened up. I pulled a fish out of rough water but lost it at the boat. For the next half hour, we pulled some of the bigger crappie that I have seen so far this spring. They were coming out of 2 feet of water on a very slow drag. The hot bait for the day was a pearl Lake Fork Trophy Lures – “Live” Baby Shad. As the fish funneled by the wind started to pick back up and the water cooled a few degrees causing the fish to vacate the area. The best part of the day happened as we were about ready to leave. As my friend Jamie worked his bait in, a crappie rose up right by the boat and sucked his bobber in but then immediately spit it out. Within seconds, a bass followed up and grabbed the bobber again. Jamie started to pull it in unhooked but it was once again spit it out. Then believe it or not, a crappie had taken the bait underneath and was hoisted into the boat.

The rest of the day was spent unsuccessfully searching for fish. Without a good idea of what else to do, we packed up the gear and made the rough run back to the launch for the drive back home.

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4-16-13 – Spring Walleye Run

With most of the ice finally leaving our lakes and ponds, spring fishing is upon us.  In years past, we have focused most of our attention on panfish with the occasional bass trip.  The first Saturday in May brings on the opener of Walleye season but what many may not be aware of is that walleye season never closes on the Connecticut River which leaves us with great opportunities to cash in on some great spring walleye fishing.

As water temperatures  slowly rise, the walleye begin their yearly migration to their spawning grounds. For the river fish, that is usually upstream towards dams, or any other man made “road block”.  It has become a goal of mine to target these fish while waiting for the water to warm up to get after the panfish.  After a small amount of research on google earth, I decided to try a spot that looked like it might hold some fish during this time.  I only had a few hours after work and grab my rod with some jigs and a couple tubs of crawlers.  The spot I was fishing is passable but offers great habitat as well as fast moving water.  Walleye often times during the spring will congregate in these areas and will lay just on the edge of the fast moving current.  Knowing this, my cast was position just along that edge.  It didn’t take long to hook into what felt like a decent sized fish.  Another great thing about fishing the Connecticut River is that you never know what you are going to catch.  This particular fish happened to be the target species. Without a net, I was luckily able to land it along the rock shore to get a handle on it. It turned out to be a nice 24″ walleye.  I globed another crawler on and made the same cast which produced another hook up.  A bigger walleye rolled on the surface and managed to throw the hook as it slid into the current.   After a few more misses on what I think were walleye I managed to land two northern pike and a smallmouth.

There will be more trips to the river for spring walleyes.

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4-9-13 – Chasing The Warm Water

On the road well before the sun would be up, I had high hopes that over night the crappie moved in to stage for the spawn. Much of the water throughout the state is still cold from its recent ice departure and every spawn fisherman knows that finding the warm water is key. Regardless, I was going to be fishing with James Vladyka of Fish Hounds Outdoors all day and fish or no fish we would keep trying. The day before the water had peaked at 52 degrees which should put the fish migrating hard into their spawning areas. For some strange reason though, they were still not present.

As we putted into the area we first intended to fish, the water temperature had held overnight. Surely, the fish had to move in since the night before. We fished the entire area without as much as a bite or seeing a fish rise. The fish must have not noticed that the water had warmed up yet. With a sinking feeling in my gut we started fishing back out into the main lake trying to figure out what to do from there.

As we worked back out, we could see fish popping the surface and moving in towards us. Our casts were reaching out further and further until simultaneously we both hooked up. Crappies in hand, we were pumped. The “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures was back on fish! We both dumped the fish over the side of the boat and got right back to fishing. For the next hour and a half, we caught fish as they cruised in to stage up. The fish were running through a 3′ channel but at times we would pull them off a 1 foot flat surrounding.

The bite was spotty but consistent. We could follow the fish as they came into range all the way till they were past us. They were entering in small pods and were very aggressive. We were able to catch the fish until the wind started to blow and the water went from 54.5 to 48 in just a short period of time. It didn’t take us long to realize that the fish evacuated the area and headed back out to the main lake.

At a loss for ideas of what to do, we went and poked around some other likely areas hoping to find warm water that was not flushed earlier by the steady, high-teens wind. Of all the spots we checked, none offered us the conditions that we were looking for. The two options that we had remaining were to go shore fishing where the fish hadn’t bit yet this year or to return to where we started the day to see if the water had warmed back up.

We opted to return to where it all started for us. Entering the channel we were surprised to see that the temperature had rebounded and was pushing 53 in just a few short hours. We remained fishless the entire way in but similar to the first time, the fish followed us in. We moved back and forth through the productive area from earlier until the fish came to us. Once the fish reached us, the wind pushed us up against shore perfectly so that they were coming right at us.

We sat in the same spot for the remainder of the day catching a fish on just about every cast. There were times when we didn’t have to cast because they were right under the boat and others when we were reaching out as far as we could. Throughout the day, I used “pearl” colored “Live” Baby Shad the entire time. The only thing that switched was the jig color. I broke off a few times and just grabbed the first one I could so I get right back out there!

This was the first time that I had ever experienced the start of a fish migration. Seeing those fish coming in got my blood pumping and it was an experience I will never forget! That is until it happens again!

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