Our hopes were high that we were going to find crappie in a pond that we had never been on before. It was going to be a nice day the only X factor was going to be the snow conditions in a part of the state we hadn’t been to recently.
Our hopes were quickly squashed when we saw a lake untouched by anyone and a bout 18″ of crusty snow. Regardless, we packed our sleds and made way for a few spots we identified by means of satellite imagery.
The walking was miserable and the loads of small perch and bluegill were over whelming. The highlight of this stop was capturing some cool footage of crawfish in shallow water.
After struggling to make it back to the truck, we came up with a new game plan which included a well traveled spot that was sure to have had some recent foot traffic.
We grabbed some lunch and got back on the water. The walking was much better but the fish were still no where to be found. Our past experiences here were that the morning bite was the best but you could still pick all day long as the fish constantly moved around. Between three of us, we caught one fish from noon to almost 3. Things were not looking good.
We tried three other spots before coming up with a quitting time. As we returned to our first stop at the new location we said 3 was the cut off. If the fish weren’t biting we were going home.
Wouldn’t you know it, at 2:55 it happened. The big perch moved into the shallows and by 4:30 all three of us we were off the ice with limits of slabs!
We could have called it a bust much earlier in the day but our stubbornness kept us going and it paid off!
Does anyone like slush? I don’t think so. The slush today was bad and it got much worse as the day wore on.
We began the day in the dark and set up in a new location. It took a few extra holes to the a good layout of the area but when all was said and done, our spread spanned a depth range of 5-24 feet of water.
The flags started immediately with a few run and drops, bass, and pike. The target were walleye but they sure were playing hard to get.
As the day passed, the action remained slow and flags became more scarce after about 11am. We made a small move with a few tip ups in the early afternoon after seeing a walleye on the underwater camera which my buddy jigged up almost immediately after. The move proved ineffective but it was closer to walking off none the less.
At dark we gave the bait a few more minutes to soak in hopes that the walleye would move in. The final few traps yielded a walleye and a bass. Whether they were on for a bit or us moving closer made them finally move, it’s fun to see a flag spring up under the bean of a headlight!
It was a tough day but even a tough day is good. It makes you appreciate the good days that much more!
I had plans to fish alone for the day but a buddy was getting out of work early for an evening smelt bite. I figured it made sense to be in the area so I headed to a nearby panfish pond.
It was a beautiful morning with temps getting into the mid 30’s by the afternoon. The fish bit well to make things even better! I found fish in a concentrated area and only had to cut about a dozen holes for the duration of my time there.
I fished above the weeds with an orange Caty teardrop and maggots. The fish were aggressive and I was able to sight fish once the holes stayed clear of slush because of the sun. While all the holes had different weed layouts, there were a few with weeds almost to the surface. Those holes with tall weeds allowed me to catch the fish within about a foot of the ice. What fun! Around 3, I packed up my gear and made way for our rendezvous point at 3:30.
The smelt spot we selected was ideal because of a plowed area nearby that kept us from having to risk getting stuck in the 16″ of hard packed snow that blanketed the entire lake. We guessed that the depth would be around 40′ deep.
The fishing began slow with a few yellow perch being the first guests coming through the hole. As darkness approached, the smelt showed up in force. At first, they were staying loyal to the bottom but after landing a few, they began to suspend higher and higher.
While the fishing was good, it wasn’t as good as when Mary and I went recently. The fish tonight were much more hesitant of coming right to the surface. They still bit hard we just couldn’t sight fish!
The fish are starting to stage up in the areas we wait to see them in all winter. These are the times when big catches and big fish are the norm. Whatever you enjoy fishing for, there aren’t many times better than this!
I had a relatively slow morning for keepers but the number of small fish was unreal. As I neared the limit of small fish coming through the hole, I started to scheme where else I could go. I settled for a nearby cove.
It took a bit to find a concentration of fish but I was rewarded with big seeds and footlong crappie. They were set up in sparse weeds with a large thick mat nearby. As the hours passed the quality never changed. I hole hopped until it was time to head home and had a mess of quality fillets!
As I add more years on to my age, I grow more and more concerned about getting our youth involved. A few of my students approached me about advising a Hunting/fishing club and without a doubt I accepted. I’ve had the chance to take them on the ice few times this year and as February break was almost over I took two of them to what I thought was going to be a hot bite and a positive time on the ice for these youngsters.
We made our way to the lake with a few extra Vexilars for the boys to use. Dylan and I had fished this spot the previous week and it was a hot bluegill bite. I thought it was going to be an easy day for the boys giving them a little confidence by putting some fish in their buckets. I drilled the area out and got the boys all set up and ready to jig. It didn’t take long for the two of them to start a baseball game, there was a great deal of swinging and missing going on as I fished beside them. After a few tips on presentation and ready the electronic in shallow weeds they were both hooking up a bit more. We fished for a few hours and I soon realized that the fish just weren’t here. I cut another grid of holes and went searching. I was able to locate some fish but they had slid to the weed edge in 9 feet of water and the weeds were right to the ice. This wouldn’t be a problem for me and Dylan but knowing that I had two young fishermen with me that had no experience reading electronics in thick weeds I decided it would be best if I took them to another body of water to target deep water suspending crappie.
We packed up our gear and made the short trip to a nearby setback. This particular setback was well known for a decent crappie bite early ice and I was hoping there might still be a few fish we could talk into biting. The conditions were poor, we had about 16 inches of heavy snow to deal with. I sent the boys out to clear a few spots in the channel for me to drill about 20 holes. It didn’t take long for one of them to get hooked up. As a matter of fact I don’t think I had even got my rod out yet. The first fish to come up was a decent little crappie, which to these boys was like pulling up a piece of gold. We had a short spurt where the fish would bite but it seemed like you’d only catch fish out of a hole that was fished for the first time, these fish are the fussiest crappie I have ever met. Both boys were able to catch a few fish, one even landing a nice pike. That’s what this sport is all about. Teaching and passing on what we have learned to the generations will only support a positive experience for those to come.
The weatherman called for a nice day and was right but he was way off on the wind forecast! We set up on a recent bite that we had located with hopes the fish hadn’t moved.
The fish were there but no concentration remained. We fished round and round searching for something better. We cut in all directions but only one or two quality seeds would come from a hole.
As we got further from our initial waypoint the number of perch in the 7-9″range was unreal! Happy to be catching fish as quick as you could pull them, we posted up. The fish bit until the cold wind drove us home around 4.
While the flatfish weren’t there in numbers perch saved us. Maybe next time things will be better!
Mary and I had to postpone our Valentine’s date due to weather issues but we finally made up for it. It was a cold night but with the Clam Bigfoot XL4000t and a Mr. Buddy heater, it was comfortable.
We hadn’t been smelt fishing together yet this winter and on this particular lake, our experience was limited. Regardless, we set up the shack after shoveling a foot of snow so we could have some smooth ice. It was still light out and there were no fish on the screen. but we had to start somewhere.
After setting up the Hydro Glow Fishing Light and rigging up our rods, the sky was dark and we started the first descent. As we neared bottom, flickers appeared and the night bite began. The fish were biting but stayed loyal to the bottom. The goal was to move them towards the surface so when we did hook up we tried to reel them in slowly so that the others would chase up.
We were able to move the fish up after only a short while, but any commotion nearby scattered them right back down. Even someone just shutting a car door ended the bite! Fortunately, they were aggressive enough to come back up with little effort.
Around 8, things changed for the better. Everyone settled in for the night and the fish came right up under the ice! We sight fished for the last couple hours before heading home. It was a great way to end the night
I hooked up with a few buddies for a morning lake trout bite on Champlain. It was much calmer than the last trip and the temperature was going to be warmer.
During our last trip, the jigging action was good as soon as we started after setting up a few tip ups. We figured that things would only be better if we started right at sun up! We were slightly wrong. While we marked fish, they were far less aggressive than the time frame between 8-10.
I hooked up with 3 other fish before finally landing one. For some reason they are very good at popping out treble hooks at the hole! The large slender spoons were the ticket once again!
We mainly stayed set up in 25 feet of water but we tried bouncing around out in deeper water for a while when the fish disappeared. The fishing wasn’t any better so we packed things and made way for home. I had a fishing date, night bite planned with Mary!
The trip for the day would be a quick but early one. My plan was to arrive to the lake and have my holes drilled by 6am in an effort to capitalize on and early morning perch bite. The perch that swim in this particular body of water are typically that of the larger, “jumbo” variety and the best best has always been the first hour of light. I made it to my coordinates a little after 6 and talked briefly to a fellow fishermen as I cut about 8 holes. The bite hadn’t started yet according to the voice coming from the shanty so I was relieved that I hadn’t missed it.
I fished my first hole without a mark on the Vexilar and then moved to the second. As soon as the transducer settled in the hole, I could see there were a few stacked beneath me. The perch in this lake are notorious for non-stop movement when they’re feeding. If you’re able to catch more than 3 out of a hole you’ve done good. The best method we’ve used is the leap frog method the chase the school, but i’m without a fishing partner so that wouldn’t work. This year, for some reason the fish seemed to be staying put, meaning they were in the exact same holes for a better part of a month. Because of this, a nice area had been all plowed out for decent fishing conditions. I quickly caught 8 nice jumbo perch and was now on my third hole as were a few old timers. The guys that plowed the area out a few days prior pulled up and asked me how the fishing was. I replied with “they’re just starting to turn on now”. Well once that was said they decided they needed to make some more room for themselves to fish so they began plowing more of the area out. The fish were gone once that plow hit the ice.
I fished through the rest of my holes without marking any decent sized fish and picked up my auger to venture away from the plowed area. The fish had vacated the area completely. It’s amazing how noise on the ice can impact fish in 35 feet of water, but if I had a plow blade being dropped in my house i’d probably leave too! Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
Cusk are a fun fish but man do they stink! I was greeted by the first stench only minutes after the sun set.
We had our spread of tip ups set out spanning depths from 20-60 FOW. The set up was large sinkers a foot above size 4 hooks baited with cut shiners. One key feature that we noted while setting up, other than the steep drop was a small finger that cut through part of the spread. Last year, the bite was slow but we were earlier in the season this time around and were hopeful that things would be just getting started.
The temperature was the only drawback to the night. With temps below 0, constantly wet hands made it tough to keep moving. Fortunately, the truck was close so we were able to hop in when we needed to warm up. The headlights also illuminated the reflective tape on the flags that tripped!
It was pretty much non stop action until we left at 11pm. While many of the fish we caught tripped the flags, probably a dozen didn’t. The fish got bigger as the night went on but with 6 keepers on the ice and nearly 20 others released, we called it a night. Glad the bait dealer talked me into the extra bait!