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!
The day started off terrible. We were on the ice with two buddies and cut a ton of holes over a large area that usually produces this time of year. For the hour and a half that we were there, two of us cut while two ran under water cameras. We saw two small perch and one pike. Not what we were hoping for!
We made plans to check a few other spots depending on the foot traffic and to keep moving if it was busy. The first location was a bust so onward we went. The second stop wasn’t much better but there were a few holes between tip up fishermen. As we walked out, we knew the water was shallow but cutting shallow to deep is a good strategy so that’s what we did.
The first hole was in just over 3 FOW. Nothing. Second hole same depth, loaded with pumpkinseed. We decided to cut out a small test area. Things were looking up and there were also crappie, perch, and bluegill. The fishing was slow but most holes offered up a few fish. As we fished in circles, we found a few directions to cut in. The fish were all over but no concentration was evident.
Throughout the course of the day, we had some good runs of fish and the quality was decent. Action was constant all day as long as you never posted up in one spot for too long. All fish were high in the water column excepts the crappie. Kind of strange!
As the day faded, it was time to head for home. The wind was picking up and there was no need to get cold!
I met up before sunrise with a few buddies in search of lake trout. We trekked nearly a mile to an offshore reef where we hoped they would be.Trying to get the layout, we cut holes over a large area checking depths as we went. As we moved around, we set out a few tip ups in hopes that we could better our odds of a few hook sets.
Once we had a small spread of traps out, the high winds drove us into shacks. Within 5 minutes, I hooked up with the first fish of the day. It was on a large jigging rap and I have never had much landing fish with them. I always lose them during the fight or hook the side of the holes with either end of the bait. While I was disappointed, It was nice to know we were in the right area.
After a short while, I switched tactics and put on a Slender Spoon. The flutter drew fish in well over the course of the next few hours I saw quite a few more fish and hooked up with 3 more. Still, I was unsuccessful with landing fish but I did get several into the hole.
It was a fun day and we toughed out the wind as long as possible. Around 3:30 the snow really started to pick up so we decided gathering up out gear and heading home before the roads got much worse was the best plan.