3-11-14 – New Panfish Spot

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.

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3-10-14 – Deep Water Crappie And Pike

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.

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3-9-14 – Some More Smelt

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.

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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!

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3-8-14 – Team Fishing For Smelt

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.

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3-3-14 – Bluegill And Trout

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.

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3-2-14 – Afternoon And Nighttime Crappie

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!

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3-1-14 – VSHTS Fish-Off

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!

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2-26-14 – Almost Work Time

With work coming at the end of the day, I was hopeful that the fish would bite so I could head in content.

On the ice early enough for a morning bite in the dark, I was surprised that nothing bit other than small perch and a few pumpkinseed. As the sun came up, the fish became more active. Up until about the time that I could sight fish, the bite was steady. They were coming in and not messing around.

As the sun came up, I was forced to start moving around to stay on the fish. There didn’t seem to be a concentration anywhere but each hole held a few. With as cold as it was, it was tough to stay outside so hole hopping with my shack was the best bet. With a little breeze in the air, I was happy to be warm inside!

Throughout the course of the day, I didn’t see a single crappie but the number of bass cruising around was wild. They were everywhere and being able to avoid them was probably the biggest benefit to sight fishing! As the end of the day drew closer and closer for me, the bite started to pick up. The quality of fish also went up. While it was bittersweet to have to leave before dark and as the fish were biting, making money is also a good thing to focus on from time to time!

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2-25-14 – Another Long Day

Today was a long day for one of us.  The plan was to head to the river to check on a sure spot and then head to a different lake for the evening Hydro Glow bite.  We hadn’t been to this spot this year so we checked with the owner of the yard that we access it from if it was still okay for us to park by the gate.  She was very pleased that we were asking, it’s important to appreciate your privileges to ensure that you’re able to maintain them.  We were pleased to see that we were the only two on the ice that morning as we unloaded the truck.

Our plan was simple, we were going to set up a few tip ups for pike in the shallows while we jigged the deeper water for crappie.  We had seen plenty of big pike in this area in years past while fishing in the boat but we had never targeted them, we were hoping for a good one.  As we set our flags, Bobby began to also cut out our search grid in the deep water for the crappie.  When we’re trying to locate the school we usually drill and pattern of two along the channel edges, this allows us to cover a lot of water quickly.   With all of our tip ups set we began jigging through the holes we had cut.

The spot is typically very productive for insane numbers of crappie suspended throughout the water column.  We have noticed though in past years that the more ice we get through out the course of the winter the water seems to get dirty and really cause problems.  As it was this day, the majority of the fish we were marking and catching were within three feet of the bottom of the ice, and the fish we were catching were small.  Finally Bobby hooked into something with some weight, it doubled his T7 custom rod right over.  To our surprise we found a Pike/Pickerel hybrid on the other end of the line.   We now know that this spot is an early ice spot before the water turns over in mid winter.

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While the morning bite wasn’t spectacular, I had high hopes that the night bite would be better. I was on the water for 4 pm headed to a spot that produced some crappie last year. Using Navionics, I found the 10′ depth that I was looking for.

I hoped that I didn’t have to cut many holes so that the fish wouldn’t spook. My first hole was the winner fortunately. Dropping my Vexilar in, the weeds came up to about 6′ in 10′ of water. Wanting to see what the weeds looked like I dropped my camera down the hole. Before I reached the weeds, a red mark came shooting up and when my eyes switched to the camera, I confirmed that there were crappie were in the area.

After getting everything set up, the sun was starting to set so it was go time. My first drop yielded a crappie immediately. Good start to the night so far. As time started to pass, the number of fish that I was both catching and seeing on the flasher was surprising me!

It didn’t take long to key in on a pattern. I would catch crappie then a few shiners would come through. This pattern continued throughout the night. I found that the shiners were anywhere from inches below the ice down to a foot above the weeds while the crappie came anywhere from the bottom to the weeds tops. One of the coolest parts of the night was that when the crappie came in the weeds seemed to explode on the graph. They were super aggressive.

At one point I had a lull in action until a big mark came it. It took about 5 minutes to get it to bite but when it did it started screaming out drag. To the hole and out again a few times we battled. I figured it had to be a bass but I was pleasantly surprised when a 16″ bullhead came up the hole.

Around 8:30 the fishing started to slow and just after 9 I decided to pack it in and head home for the night. I had iced over 50 crappie, as well as some pumpkinseed and that bullhead.

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2-24-14 – Long Day On The Ice

I dropped my girlfriend off at the airport early this morning and hit the water with my Hydro Glow Fishing Light. I punched two holes so that I didn’t have to fish in the same hole as the light. About 5 minutes after my first drop, I hooked up with a crappie. The bite stayed pretty steady until about 5:45 with a fish coming every few minutes.

As the sun started to poke over the horizon, the species switched from all crappie to bluegill and perch. I had planned on spending the entire day and a while after dark at this location so I spend a good portion of the day trying to locate a few sweet spots.

As the day got going, I found a few holes with tall weeds that had a nice opening right to the bottom. These holes seemed to produce all day and even better when someone would drive by or new holes were punched by others. While close noise moved fish away, far off noise pushed fish right into me.

For the better part of the day I moved around between the few productive holes that I had. Even though the crappie bite was slow during the day, I knew that they hadn’t gone far. As evening approached, I set up on a hole that was decent earlier in the day. With the light submerged about 25 minutes before dark, it was a waiting game at this point.

The waiting seemed to take forever and I don’t think I got a bite for close to an hour and a half. When the bite came it was a good one though! I ended up squeezing a 14″ crappie through a 6″ hole. It weighed 1.75 pounds and was followed up by a few that were only a bit smaller. I closed out the night around 9:30 after a long spell with nothing to speak of.

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