The temperature finally cooled down enough here in Vermont to form ice on some smaller bodies of water. We made a plan to meet up with some friends and make a day out of fishing one of our favorite early ice haunts.
The temperature had been hovering around zero for the past few days and we weren’t surprised when we arrived and walked out onto a good 4-5 inches of hard ice in the dark. The spot that we were fishing is a small secluded cove on a large body of water. We fished our normal spots, drilling holes in the channel, along the weed edge, and on the weed flat. When we fish small spots like this we like to drill all of our holes first thing. This allows us to find the active fish throughout the day while not spooking fish out of the area by constant cutting. Be aware though,this is not always the scenario. At times we find that cutting holes triggers the fish into a feeding frenzy.
Fishing was very typical of this cove during first ice. The fish were active and feeding in the channel at first light. We were able to land five species (Rockbass, Bluegill, Sunfish, Crappie, Perch) in a short time. The specific bite always seems to pick up mid morning with lulls on either side. After the morning rush, the next move is to follow the fish. Most times, when presented with this situation the fish will most likely slide into the weeds and find a nice spot atop the weed flat to spend the remainder of the day. Since we had drilled this area out earlier in the morning, knowing the fish weren’t there yet, we were able to move with them. The trick was finding a hole with weeds but not so many that you couldn’t punch your jig through to get to the fish.
Don’t give up when the fish stop biting. Many times they have just moved slightly. Other reasons could be a change in food preference, they have changed how they want the bait moving (or not moving), or it could be the fish you are around are in fact, done feeding. If the fish stop feeding and you’ve unsuccessfully tried problem solving, go look for a new pod of fish or maybe even a different species. On this day, once the fish moved into the weeds they became more predictable. The gills seemed to be hugging the bottom and acting lethargic, but the crappie were coming in high and without hesitation.
It was a great start to the season with some good friends and plenty of fish.