I hit the water alone this morning. The plan was check out a new location and see what it had to offer. The walk in wasn’t as bad as previously thought and within a few feet of shore, I was punching holes. Planning on a cold day, I was dressed warm with my shack and all.
I didn’t end up using the shack or even wearing the jacket. The wind hadn’t picked up yet and the cold was overcome with warmth from punching holes. Luckily, after cooling down, I stayed warm catching fish. Within only a few holes, the number of perch that I had caught was pushing past 75. While they weren’t all keepers. I was averaging 10″ with a few over the 12″ mark.
As I started working through more of the holes, I found very limited weeds and perch just about everywhere. A subtle change from 5 to 4 feet brought different species under my feet. While bass were the predominate species, bluegill started to show up as well as weeds. The shallower I pushed the more bluegill I started to catch. Fishing only inches below the ice, I stumbled into some crappie. The size was lacking but I knew in time that I would find some better fish if I kept at it.
After spending the majority of the morning, I packed up and headed with a buddy to the North East Kingdom to look for some cusk.
I fished with my buddy Jamie and a group of 6 guys today. Mainly they wanted to set up tip ups so the morning bite was consumed with drilling and setting an ample number of traps across the lake. Although it was a nice day. A slight breeze in the air kept it from being warm.
The bite wasn’t hot but a few quality fish made the day. The highlight of the day was a 17-3/4″ crappie that weighed 2 pounds 13 ounces. One of the guys out there with us caught it on a tip up with a medium shiner. When approved, it will enter the record books at number 3.
Other than a slow but steady bite on the tip ups, jigging produced a few fish throughout the day but never any heavy runs. As evening approached, I was gathering up the last small cluster of tip ups that were out by myself. With four left on the ice, one fired and started screaming line. After a few minute battle, I had a 30 something inch pike topside. After getting someone for a picture, I released the fish and finished picking up.
A buddy invited me to hit the big lake today in search of some lake trout. We were on the water and had our tip ups set up in the dark. After settling down for a bit we set up a shack that we could both fish out of. I wish I could say that we caught a ton of fish or even one but it was a great morning to say the least!
At any point when we dropped the camera down, there was at least one fish cruising the edge of what we could see. Quality ones too! Throughout the course of the morning. We had two opportunities but neither successfully hooked up. Probably the best part of the trip happened when we picked up to leave. With all the tip ups loaded we sat back in the shack to warm up. A quick flash right under our feet revealed an alewife being pursued by a 8-10 pound laker. We saw the fish several times before the alewife escaped up our into our hole. Although it was frustrating, we made the trek off the ice to head out to a different location that was loaded with bass and pike. We also had the opportunity to jig up panfish.
After setting up our tip ups again in shallower water, the jigging bite was good. Seeing 6, 7, or 8 bass in a hole at a time was common. Many times we would be catching crappie and bluegill while bass were inches from our bait! As dark approached we set up the Hydro Glow. The bite was slow but we had some decent sight fishing action. When things winded down, we headed our separate ways and I headed to another pond for some more smelt.
Arriving at the smelt grounds, I was greeted by several buddies of old and new. The fish were there and they were biting. The depth they were biting at constantly changed but it didn’t take long to know if they were active or not. Aggressive jigging seemed to be the key. The smelt were some of the biggest ones that I have seen outside of Lake Champlain!
Mary and I went out with some friends after I got out of work today. Smelt were the target and we thought that it would be fun to have a little competition. We thought boys vs girls would be fair as Mary usually catches more than me. Once we found the right depth, we got to fishing. The counts stayed pretty close throughout the night but we (the boys) squeaked out a narrow victory.
Today our plan was simple, bluegill in the morning and bluegill in the afternoon, however our locations and techniques would be different as these were two different bodies of water.
Our morning was spent on a local lake with a healthy bluegill population. Our approach was to seek out fish that have pushed into thick dense weeds staging to spawn. Our target depth was anywhere from 5-9 feet of water. The lake has some extremely clean water and many times you will find the blue gill suspended above the weeds making them enjoyable to sight fish from your shack. We cut a grid of holes to fish while Dylan’s girlfriend Mary sat in the shack and caught them by sight. The action was steady but not great. When fishing needs to get better we always seem to start drilling more holes. That was the case today so Bobby grabbed Dylan’s auger and pulled to start, well he pulled too far break the knot on the cord. After a trip to the hardware store for a screw driver our greasy hands we were unable to fix it. We decided that this would be a good time to move to another pond and search for the few but large bluegills it held.
We packed light and made our way out to the basin in search of the bull gills. Well we didn’t ever really get on the big gills but we did find some trout while jigging in the deep water. The marks were moving fast chasing our jigs up and down the water column. Mary who was in the shack again said she was seeing them swim right under the hole. She was able to connect on a few. We cut out a few grids looking for the blue gill but were unable to find more than one. It was still a good time on the ice with good friends and a few surprises.
It was a slow day on the water again today but at least a few crappie were willing to cooperate. Although it was a nice afternoon, the temperature was suppose to drop a bit after dark, enough to put a chill in the air, so I brought my hub shelter.
Set up well before dark, I started hole hopping through the few that I had cut. With plenty of pumpkinseed and bass right off, I felt that I would have crappie around after dark. After fishing two holes, I stuck into a crappie and things got a whole lot better!
As the sun was setting, I hunkered down into my shack and got set up for the night. I struggled convincing anything to bite after the sun set but most of what I caught were crappie. I also hooked up with two pickerel that I broke off on trying to turn them up the hole.
I fished a little further from the light tonight and was able to do a bit more sight fishing. While I couldn’t see great, the fins on the fish were highly visible. Especially the white edge or the pectoral fins on crappie!
This year, for the first time, the VSHTS had a Fish-Off. Basically, the winner got bragging rights and a free fish mount. The location for this even was Mallets Bay in Colchester. While the bite wasn’t great there were a few nice fish caught throughout the day.
Sitting with a few buddies on the outskirts of everyone, we had a school of rudd work through on a few different occasions. They were coming through in groups of 15-20 and took very little time to stop and look. I have caught a few of them through the ice but had never seen action like that. Very neat to see!
At the end of the day, the cold had taken its toll and heading home shortly after 2 felt good. Plenty of time to rest up to get back out tomorrow!