Trout can put up a good fight on any day but add a little fast moving water and you have a recipe for quite a battle!
Today was a quick trip as there was a sever rain storm coming in later in that day that would raise the already high water. I was on the water for a few hours in a spot that has been good to me in the past. There is quite a variety of habitat in the vicinity and I chose to fish an eddy. Because of the high water, I was standing on the edge of a field!
I was tossing a “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures on a 1/8 ounce jig head. After giving the jig a few seconds to sink, I would start working it back through the slack water with quick and erratic popping action. The bites were relatively light but firm enough for a good hook. I landed 6 fish total and lost two others that got out into the main flow.
Although not measured, big fish was a rainbow around 20 inches followed by a 16″ brown that was super slender. I see a good summer ahead on this river!
The first day in the boat for the season started early. There was a clear shot to the fishing spot from the launch with ice in most directions still anchored to shore. Once the Hydro Glow was submersed, the lines got wet. The water was was cold and it was pouring rain. Still had to try though.With another hour till sunrise, the bite wasn’t proving too good. Although I missed two good bites under the light, it wasn’t until after the sun was up that the first fish made it’s way into the boat.
Throughout the course of the day, I tried big plastics, small plastics, and live minnows. The bite was light and most bites came at the boat on a long cast. It didn’t seem to matter was was tied on as long as it was moving slow with long pauses. Most of the bites came while the bait was completely motionless. The muddy water most likely had the fish tracking the bait for quite a while.
Around 11am, the rain let up and the fishing came to a dead end. Fishing until 3pm yielded no more bites and with that long of a stretch, it was apparent that it was time to head home.
With last April upon us and warmer temperatures, I decided to go see what the deal was with the walleye on the river instead of one last venture out on uncertain ice. Our plan was to check the dams in hopes that some fish have began their spring run upstream. We headed south and after a quick stop to grab a few dozen medium shiners, we reached the southern most dam.
I hadn’t got the boat out yet so we were limited to shore fishing. After a short walk, we found ourselves situated on a rock outcropping located just below the dam adjacent to a concrete wall. With my order of floating jigs not in yet, our presentation was a lead jig tipped with a minnow. Fishing the bottom in these situations is tough, there are a lot of rocks and other debris on the bottom making snagging a frequent thing. I was pitching into the slack eddy water, I felt something on the other end of the line, I set the hook but missed. I’m pretty sure it was a fish but then again with all the debris contact it was difficult to determine what was a bite and what was a snag. After going through a dozen jigs or so with no fish, we decided to head north to the next dam to see what was going on there.
The current was significantly slower here but the water was still moving a a pretty decent clip. To make a long story short, more of the same, not bites, lots of lost jigs. The water temperature was still a little chilly, only at 35 so we knew it may be a long day. No fish, on to the next spot.
Our next stop was a a natural dam, nothing more than a few rapids and a few falls. Upon arrival the local rescue team was there doing fast water exercises. It was interesting to see but when their three boats racing through the pool I was trying to fish I knew chances were slim of hooking into a walleye. With the afternoon upon us and a few hundred miles on the pickup we decided to call it a day. Even though our efforts yielded no fish it was still successful. We saw some new water and talked with a few old timers and picked up some tips. Going back soon for sure with a few new tools in my bag. Lindy Floating rigs will help keep my bait off the bottom and hopefully allow my bait to hover in the strike zone without as many snags. Time will tell.
With a late winter storm hitting the area for the second half of the weekend I decided to journey to a bay I had only fished once this season with hopes that the crappie and sunnies had gathered for their pre-spawn ritual. I picked my buddy up and we headed out no knowing what to expect. The weather has finally broke out of it’s freezing cold spell which it seemed like we were in all winter and I knew it was only a matter of time that things started to heat up, no pun intended.
We arrived to the bay and was greeted by a good friend that had been fishing for a few hours already and the prognosis didn’t look good. The fish seemed to be scattered, being a large bay we had our work cut out for us. After talking with my buddy we made our way to one of my waypoints and began to drill. After working through the first series of holes and only managing four keeper perch and a bass we headed to another waypoint in hopes to find a few more fish. As we were getting close I realized that my mark was smack dab in the middle of about 30 tip-ups. I approached the fellow fishermen and asked if they minded if I fished around their set-up, like most Vermonters they didn’t mind and after a few short stories I began to drill the area out. With a lot of time left in the day I had decided that if we didn’t stumble upon the fish quick we were going to make a big move down to a bay that I had fished a few more times this season. I worked this set of holes without marking a fish, I knew this fish were around but time is everything when you don’t have a lot of it, especially to fish so we packed up and headed out.
The second stop would prove to be worth the trip. We met a few buddies out there who had found some fish, all the credit goes to these guys. The area was all drilled out so we had our greeting and got to work. The crappie had moved into the area within the past few weeks and they were thick. I have actually never seen it like this in this bay. This particular bay had very thick weeds at the beginning of the ice season, they had now died of for the most part and the fish were cruising the tops of them, and when I say cruising, I mean cruising. The fish were on the move and it was to our advantage to have a few of us there to stay with them. The good bite lasted for a solid hour or so and then turned into a slow pick. It was a great time with good friends and as it would turn out, a great way to end my season on the ice. It was time to head home, pack the ice gear away, and get tied up for spring walleye and crappie, till next time…….
Sure spending the last day on the ice for the season in the rain was bitter sweet but the fish made things better. I had planned on spending the day packing away gear and setting my boat up for the seasons coming up but I am easily convinced when fishing is involved.
I stayed in bed catching up on sleep from the last two days until I got the urge to hit the ice somewhere I knew people would be. Upon arrival, I unloaded and hit the water. The shores were weak but fortunately the abundance of docks allows for easy access.
The bite was spotty but when the crappie were there it was insane! While it wasn’t a usual tactic, calling everyone over when a crappie was caught was key to having them stick around for a bit rather than moving on quickly like they wanted to. As a precursor of good things to come, pumpkinseed indicated that the crappie would be along shortly.
After fishing for about 7 hours, I had a nice load of crappie as well as some good pumpkinseed and bluegill. While ice season may be over for me now, I don’t think it will be long before I am back on the water again!
After yesterday, we weren’t sure what the bite would be like if the white perch were still in the area. We got on the ice early finding that the water had come up a bit since the day before. We started the day off in the dark by setting up the hydro glow in the area that the crappie were yesterday.
The bite was very slow until just before sunrise. We decided to break from the light and try to locate the feeding crappie as the sun broke. It took about 10 minutes to realize that we weren’t set up on the right spot but it all worked out fine by the end of our day.
For the next 6 hours, we worked through three different but close weed patches over and over. Within each, we identified a hole or two that always provided a crappie first drop. Letting them rest after briefly fishing was key to consistency. At 1 pm, it was time to pack it in for the day with limits of crappie and some nice pumpkinseed on the side. While the fishing was great, the highlight was not catching white perch!
The plan for the day was to locate some late ice panfish. We were on a bay that usually provides some great fishing but has been dead all winter. Getting on the water around sunrise was the plan as reports said the shores were not super solid.
We made it on the ice and started off with a plan of cutting shallow and working deep. While my buddy cut ahead, I followed using my underwater camera. Sure I was looking for fish, but weed composition was also being kept track of. With the number of bass and pike moving in for the spawn, dense weeds would be necessary for our target species.
It took a while to find some fish but for the rest of the day, the area that we fish was small. Even though the target for the day was crappie and pumpkinseed, white perch were the most common species. Big ones too!
Picking at the panfish between runs of perch was fun and they bit well until about 3. At that point, everything shut down. For about an hour, we walked in every direction trying to locate where they moved to. They were no where to be found so we decided to pack it up for the day and come back early in the morning for round two.
With a day like I had on Sunday, it was hard not coming back up the last two days to fish for the white perch! Although the bite was great, handling all the fish that I caught took a toll on my hands. They needed a bit of time to get nursed back to health.
Once again, I wasn’t on the water until about 9 am but it didn’t take long to get into the fish. Other than for about an hour in the morning I sat in one hole and pulled fish. The bite was just as good as Sunday but the I began fishing a different technique and found that I had better hook ups. The fish were stacked in 15 feet of water so I used my normal panfish approach of fishing top to bottom. I would start at the bottom of the ice and slow but steady drop. Any tick in the line was a bite and just about every bite resulted in a hook up.
The aggressiveness of these perch amazes me. With the high sun today, I was able to sit over the hole and look down to watch them bite. While I have never given them the credit they deserve, I will certainly be back for me!
Check out White Perch On Lake Champlain on our YouTube page for more action!
I put some hours in on the ice today. I started early looking for a bite in the dark. I caught a bunch of fish most of which were bluegill. The fish were suspending high and very aggressive. As sunrise approached, the number of crappie increased. As the sun came up, the bite slowed up for a bit.
When it was bright enough to use my underwater camera, I began looking for better size classes of fish as most of what I was seeing were small. It seemed that the bigger fish were in smaller water with crappie in the mix randomly. I spent a great deal of the day looking with the camera and targeting individual fish. While just about every hole had a crappie or two it was hard to get past the bluegill and pumpkinseed. In general, I would only fish holes that 5 or 6 crappie to better my odds.
While the fish were there, the numbers that I caught were not a great representation of what I saw. It was a tough bluebird day but at least it was warm! Before it got dark, I made my way off the ice to get home in time for dinner.
Check out Variety Of Panfish On Lake Champlain on our YouTube page for more action!
With spring on the way, the fish patterns start to change a bit. Knowing this, I thought that it would be fun to go and try to locate some perch. I was on the water for sunrise and the wind was already whipping. I covered about 1/4 of the pond before realizing that it wasn’t my day. While the perch were everywhere, none were over 7″. I tried deep, shallow, and everything in between. It didn’t seem to make any difference where I was.
To compensate for the lack of perch, I headed shallow hoping that the the bluegill would bite. The wind was still blowing hard and after punching holes, I was contemplating heading home! All the water on top of the ice made it so I didn’t want to bring my shack out and get it soaked. Toughing it out wasn’t much better of an option though!
As I started working through the holes, the number of fish I was catching was decent. Although harder to fish, smaller jigs seemed to be producing better. I found most of the fish today in shallower water in the mix with tall weeds. The more holes that I fish, the more refined my pattern became. As I pushed on to the deepest set of my holes, I located a good numbers of rockbass, All winter they have been MIA so this must mean warmer weather is near!