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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2-23-14 – Solo Trip

I had intended to get up early and be on the ice for sunrise but things didn’t work out that way. I rolled out of bed at 8 and wasn’t stepping foot on the ice until around 9:30. By the looks of it, the morning bite was good and things had slowed up a bit since.

I started off fishing with a white and orange tear drop right below the ice. Slowly working down through the water column, it didn’t take long to connect with my first crappie. While the bite didn’t slow, the quality of fish that I was on wasn’t great. I released many crappie that were between 8 and 9 inches.

After fishing from 9:30 to 4 I had caught my fair share of fish and ended up keeping a few to bring home. The bite was steady throughout the day and only the wind made the fishing difficult. I didn’t feel bad about heading out before the sun set because I knew that I would tomorrow would be another day!

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2-22-14 – Final Leg Of VSHTS

The final leg of the VSHTS was today at Laphams Bay on southern Lake Champlain.  Today was about the points championship and Dylan had a slight lead over the rest of the field. He was feeling the pressure for sure.  Reports of fish in the area were encouraging for the field of 38. You could find fish throughout the bay scattered but the fishermen seemed to focus in on two key areas.   It was sure to be a shootout in close quarters.

Walking conditions were difficult for us short legged people at the start as we made our way out to our fishing spots.  The plan for the day was to set up shop in our Clam shacks and see what we could do sight fishing.  The water to start was fairly clear, and fishing 5 feet of water or less seemed to be the go to method for most anglers.  Bobby’s first drop of the day produced a short black crappie but that was pretty much it.

Dylan made a major move to an area he had pre-fished the day before while Bobby stayed put and cut a few more holes working back towards the launch.  With Dylan’s move he also changed his game plan for the most part.  He decided to fish outside of his shack in hopes of fishing a few more holes searching out the aggressive fish.  By 10 am Dylan had connected on a decent limit and was now looking to upgrade, Bobby on the other had was struggling again yet to catch a keeper crappie.  By the end of the day however Bobby was able to put two decent crappie, a perch and three gills in his bucket for the weigh in.  From what we had heard it was going to be close at the weigh in in terms of the points.  Close was an understatement, Dylan was able to hold onto his lead and edge out first place by three one hundredths of an pound.  This solidified Dylan’s points chanpionship for the 2014 VSHTS! Way to go Dylan.  Bobby was able to have a decent season as he came in 8th place in total points for the four events.  Can’t wait for next season.

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2-19-14 – They’re There But Won’t Bite!

I fished with a few guys from out of state today. They wanted to put some nice fish on the ice so when I got out of work I met up with them. It was a nice morning but the weather reports said a storm would be rolling in around lunch time.

For the first few hours we were all walking around scratching our heads. While there was a ton of fish, they didn’t seem to want to bite. Looking around with the camera, crappie and big gills were everywhere and in numbers. The key to the day seemed to be sitting in a hole with fish long knowing that after enough looked at your bait, one would bite.

Outside of my trip to Minnesota earlier this year, this was the first time that I actually had to cycle through my jig box and try just about everything. While I can fish on a variety of jig and plastic combinations, it seemed that an all orange rocker with a bubblegum jamei from Maki Plastics worked best.

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2-18-14 – Prefishing Again

I was on the water early in hopes of finding that the crappie were biting at daylight. With a big storm rolling in later in the day, the odds seemed to be in my favor. With holes punched in the dark, I was really for some action. The sun was coming up and I knew that I was in a spot that the crappie were using.

The bite started slow and I found that most of the active fish were bluegill. I sat in one hole that was constantly flooded with fish. The sight fishing was tough until the sun was bright enough to shed some light under the ice. Using my camera, I found that there were small and medium crappie but they couldn’t compete with their competition. After 2 hours in the hole, I had caught a ton of bluegill, some big perch, and a bass.

Although I gave up my morning to a spot that I had been fishing for a while, I had intended to dedicate the rest of the day to exploring new parts of Lapham’s Bay. Using Navionics and Google maps, I highlighted a few locations that I thought looked ideal to funnel fish.

The walk seemed long as the snow at this point was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see across the bay. Arriving at a slowly sloping point coming up into a shallow flat, I started punching my holes on the deep end. I figured that the bite would get better the shallower that I got.

As expected, I found a sandy slope leading up to some good looking milfoil starting in 6 feet of water. Again I found plentiful amounts of bluegill and perch but no crappie. At this point in the day, I had pretty much stopped fishing and was spending all my time searching with my camera. The fish were relating to weeds and were not scared of the camera.

After working through a large section of new water, I decided that getting on the road before conditions got much worse.

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