The crappie spawn in Lake Champlain is a fantastic time to catch a lot of fish. Some years it’s very predictable and others not. It can start and last a couple of weeks or it can start and stop, then start back up again. The second scenario seemed to be the case this year. Our last trip was devoted to the big lake with hopes of catching that perfect water temperature where crappies begin their spring ritual.
We arrived at the lake a little late due to the fact that we forgot the graph at home while still in town and we figured it might be a good thing to have. We headed for our first spot and arrived to find water temperatures in the upper 50’s. With a blue bird day ahead, we knew the water would soon be pushing into the 60’s. We made our way back into a shallow cut that had produced fish in recent days. Using a small jig under a bobber tipped with a “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures, we began searching for fish. It didn’t take long to find a small brush point that seemed to be holding some fish.
We where getting bite after bite which unfortunately was producing miss after miss. The crappie would take the bobber all the way under, we would set the hook. . . . . nothing. We started playing with bait color and style until we found a bait that at least the fish would hold on to long enough to hook a few of them. From what we could tell, we ran into a bit of a timing issue. The fish were there in large numbers, however, the water temperature was causing them to think less on feeding and more on spawning.
We struggled through the first half of the day and only managed 11 keepers as we were throwing back the bigger fish which were the egg stuffed females. By noon, we decided to check some other places with hopes that the fish might be more aggressive. Up the lake we ran and were greeted by a few of our buddies. They too had struggled in the morning hours and were not on the fish. We anchored near their boat to catch up and wait the fish out which ultimately worked out. With a bunch of lines crossing the area, we found a pod of fish staging up right at the mouth in the channel. Cast after cast produced not only crappie but largemouth bass and bullhead as well.
The fish moved through in small runs where we would catch 4,5 or 6 fish at a time. After a bunch of runs, we endured a long stretch without as much as a bite. We decided to check on some other spots had produced in recent days. We checked a handful of spots and covered close to 8 miles of the lake. We found no other areas to be productive so we returned to where we started the day. Since we had left a few hours earlier the water temperature had stabilized at 66.4 and in the short time we spent in there it dropped a few tenths. Lots of bait fish were busting the surface as there was a big hatch occurring. Along with the bait, there was quite a bit of predator activity chasing. With the crappie focusing on their spawn rather than biting, we parted ways and met back up with our buddies.
The fish were still cruising the channel so we anchored back up and got to catching. We fished for another 1.5 hours before realizing how late it was and that we should head home. The day was tough and certainly not steady but we caught some big fish as well as took home a few meals. Can it get much better than that?!?!