7-24-13 – Looking For Perch

I hit the road at 3:30 on Wednesday morning hoping to key in on some jumbo perch. To target these fish, I was running a drop shot rig with a 3/4 ounce casting weight on bottom and two size 4 hooks tied in above connected by three-way swivels. The length of the lead on the hooks ranges from 2-8″ depending on how aggressive the fish are feeding.

Finding these fish is usually the biggest time consumer of the day but once you find them you might as well have struck gold! Looking in water ranging from 20-35′ takes time and having side imaging is a must. This morning it took me about 35 minutes to find fish but the school I found was thick. Conservatively, I would estimate several hundred fish. In two passes, I pulled a dozen perch out of 31′ of water before they scattered.

From there I was on my own. Working the 28′ contour I trolled around the lake at about 0.6 mph picking fish randomly with no rhyme or reason. Towards the end of the morning, I located a large school of fish holding on a ski course anchor system in 27 FOW. After a few casts I was able to hook the first fish which turned out to be a 9″ bluegill. Over the next 45 minutes I caught a bluegill on just about every cast until they moved on.

Before leaving, I figured I should check one more time to see if I could get back on the school that I found first thing in the morning. I was unable to do so but found some fish holding in a 15′ weed bed. As I keyed in on them, a storm rolled in pushing me off the water.

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7-23-13 – Sunshine Crappie

We have a track record of making the wrong decision when it comes to leaving home and deciding on the ride as to where we should go. Today one on the fly call finally worked out in our favor!

Getting a late start, we were hitting the water shortly after 10 am. With only a slight ripple on the water, our only obstacle was the rain coming down. We had elected to scratch our initial plans to walleye fish on an inland pond because of localized thunderstorms but it looked like we were going to be no better off to be on Lake Champlain!

From the start, we began to piece together a day. The fish were there but wanted the bait swinging and not bouncing. They also wanted it moving up and down over the course of a few feet with a slow presentation. Picky, I know but that isn’t even as bad as it gets! The best bite, producing the largest fish, came during two of our sunny breaks in the sky. Neither of these breaks were long lived but surely long enough to make the day great!

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7-22-13 – Switching It Up

Most of the posts lately have been about panfish so it made sense to try something different. A buddy of mine who I don’t get much on the water time with had a day off so we made arrangements to hit the water for a full day. I picked him up at 5 and after hooking up to the boat, we were on the road.

We were on the water shortly after 6, with hopes of some walleye, perch, rockbass, and smallmouth bass. The first 20 minutes of the morning was the best. We put several walleye on board before they shut off for the rest of the morning. We worked spot to spot as well as several new ones hoping to key in on a new honey hole. Unfortunately, nothing resulted as far as walleye went. We were however, able to locate big numbers of rockbass and perch.After having some fun picking rockbass and perch, we had had enough and went after some bigger fish; Bass.

About 40 minutes later, we were putting the boat in the water again with flipping jigs tied on. We started off working some docks that were adjacent to deeper water. There were some fish holding on the docks but we found a better bite in dense weed clusters and on the deep edge of weeds on the first main break. Bites tended to come on the initial drop and were very subtle. Most times, bites were detected by the line moving sideways. As we neared the end of our trip, we drifted up on some docks in deep water. This ended up being one of the best spots of the day as the numbers were great!

Although none of the bass were big, a 2.5 average is still decent!

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7-21-13 – Panfish And A Drum

To start off a several day fishing spree, I met up with a buddy and his wife to fish for some panfish on Lake Champlain. The main target for the day was to be white perch but in the same area would be yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegill, and most likely every other fish Lake Champlain has. The weather was suppose to finally cool down after a two week heat wave and I couldn’t be happier.

We were on the water shortly after 7 and it was starting off as a great day. There was a slight chop on the water and the fish bit right off. Before the anchor was even set we had some fish in the boat. We used the anchors long rope to change our fishing spot for as long as the fish bit. When the bite would slow we would flag out further until we got on them again. The majority of the day was vertical jigging with a 1/8 ounce jig on the bottom and a hook tied in line a foot or two above. As the sun rose higher in the sky, I used a drop shot rig to hold the bottom thinking that the fish would move down the water column to stay in the cooler water. Not to mention, as it got later, more boats came out and the water became rough making it tough to feel bites with little to no weight.

The fishing was either really good or really bad and it became apparent very quick when we needed to move. It seemed like throughout the day, the larger fish were holding tight to the deep side of a weed edge while the smaller ones were in the weeds. Using electronics was huge in order to locate the weeds when they weren’t visible. The majority of the day was spent in 11-16 feet of water. While most of the fish were holding close to the bottom, the white perch were anywhere from 7-9′ below the surface.

Mixed in with the panfish we were after were several nice bass, bullpout, and drum.

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7-14-13 – Finally On The Whites Again!

It had been a while since I had been out fishing for white crappie. It felt good to finally be vertically jigging them on structure again! With a ton of recent rain followed by a heat wave, the fish have slid into their summer haunts. The water today was very murky and hard to believe better than it was a few days before. We were looking in water from 10-20 feet where we could offer the fish with a “pendulum swing presentation”.   The idea behind this technique is to cast  just past the structure and let it swing through the strike zone, hopefully keeping it away from the structure. Throughout the day the strike zone tends to change so being versatile is a must! Other considerations with this technique are speed of retrieve, wind, sun/shade, and current.

Having a slight chop on the water seems to make the crappie bite. Fortunately, other than about 2 hours when it was whipping in the morning, the wind was just strong enough to hold out anchor lines tight. Although being able to anchor up isn’t necessary, it keeps your casting angles a bit more consistent. When the wind is moving the boat as you use your trolling motor, keeping track of where to cast so your bait runs parallel to the structure becomes difficult. Using throwable markers also work for reference but they are just one more thing to either snag into or get tangled in the structure.

The bait that I used all day was the “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures. Although I caught fish on just about every color I tried, anything bright worked best. Throughout the day, I mainly used pearl, chartreuse/pearl, and chartreuse glo. The only change in color choice today came when the fish became conditioned to one specific color. Sometimes that is all it takes to stay on a bite!

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7-1-13 – High Water On Lake Champlain (Part 2)

Day two on Lake Champlain came and went. The fishing for the morning was good. We were on the water shortly after sunrise and had decided to try a new area that we hadn’t fished before other than through the ice. The weather was suppose to be calm until late morning when the rain rolled in. Our plan was to fish a few hours in the morning then retreat before the rain came and catch up on sleep!

We worked the first shoreline of the day and found only rockbass and small pumpkinseed. Looking around, we noticed a shoreline with grass and no camps that suited our desires. We motored across and began fishing around. Fishing mostly shallow, we found some bass but also a ton of big bluegill. Everything seemed aggressive but the bass weren’t very consistent. The more we worked the shore, the more concrete our pattern became until we came across a small weed patch in deeper water that was loaded with bass. The majority of our casts produced fish and the ones that didn’t was only because we missed one. It was great to see how many bass could sit on one small patch!

After it seemed like we had exhausted the sweet spot, we continued our way down the shore to a big flooded timber flat. We were tossing senkos and night crawlers. Both were producing fish. Switching back and forth, I kept myself content and the pressure off from my friends ragging on me for fishing for “little kid fish”. The closer you could get to the trees, the bigger the fish got!

Right along with the bass and panfish were rudd. They sure do put up a good fight for their size!

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6-30-13 – High Water On Lake Champlain (Part 1)

We were on the water shortly after sunrise and the species being targeted was bass. Of course if the opportunity presented itself, panfish gear was kept close. After all the rain over the last week, the water level has come up quite a bit expanding the shores of the lake to include much of the timber surrounding. Fortunately, the water was still pretty clear so in some instances, sight fishing was possible.

We started fishing shallow water with milfoil and curly pond weed in abundance. We found some fish but mainly they were relating to any woody debris that was around. After an hours with only a few fish, we headed to look for deeper weeds in clear water. As we started fishing along, we hooked up with a few fish. Mostly smallmouth bass but a decent pike as well. The fish were on the deeper edge of weeds and very skiddish. Paralleling the shore, we found one rocky point that jetted out quite a ways with suspended smallmouth that wouldn’t bite. The main bait of choice was rubber worms because they were able to stay in the strike zone longer. Most of the fish seemed unwilling to move very far for a meal.

Around the corner from the rocky point, we got into a windblown, flooded shoreline. The bass were holding tight to timber and very aggressive. These fish turned out to be all largemouth. With a good cast, most trees produced bites. Although, there were lots of panfish around, I stuck to fishing bass the best I could. The more we drifted, the more I became torn between fishing for bass or panfish. I ended up giving in and caught a bunch of rockbass, bluegill, and pumpkinseed.

For the remainder of the morning, I switched back and forth between bass and panfish. The smallmouth bass were relating to small to medium sized boulders and a slight chop of the water, the largemouth were hugging shallow structure, and the panfish were just about everywhere!

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Towards the end of our morning session, we came across a rock that was loaded with turtles.

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IMG_8992The afternoon was spent on a small inland body of water. The fishing wasn’t great but we caught some decent bass, lots of perch, and some pumpkinseed.