While everyone was preparing to watch the big game, we were taking the first step in meal prep. Catching dinner! We set off early ensuring we would be the first ones there, and we thought we’d try a bit of fishing in the dark. We arrived well before daylight and cut a few strings of holes 100 yards or so long.
This area we were on had a main channel that ran along the north shoreline with a gradual rise (secondary channel) towards the south shoreline. The “game plan” was to fish the channel along the breaks and weeds edges. It wasn’t long before we started to pull a few small crappie but nothing really spectacular first light. The bluegills and sunfish were pretty thick towards the end of the channel along the thick weeds. They were enough to occupy our attention for a little while. We iced a few gills well over 10″ and pushing a pound if not over.
As usual, we realized that we should have drilled more holes. When our string came to an end, we found the active better sized fish. The larger crappie were in the main channel chasing the golden shiners around. We used our electronics to mark the holes that had bait present 3 feet down; marks just under them were crappie and they were aggressive. We had a pretty good run of constant keeper fish for about an hour before they seemed to disappear.
It took us a while but we finally found the crappie again, they had slid back to the weed edge where the gills and sunfish had been earlier. A few things we noticed was that the crappie were in holes with little to no weeds. When you found a hole with weeds you seemed to catch more sunfish, gills and bass. I honestly think we fished the crappie too hard an hour before that. The fish seemed to need a bit of a break from the commotion. Once we found them again, they were more stationary and still fairly active. Over all it was a successful day as both of us brought a few home for a super bowl snack.
My buddy and I took the day off to hit Lake Champlain. There seems to be a good number of fish in the islands this year so we thought getting out while the traffic was limited might increase our success. We got on the ice early and cut out a decent sized area before my auger threw a blade. Luckily, we had a backup hand auger which we wouldn’t need until later in the day.
The fish started biting before daylight approached so we knew that we got lucky that we didn’t have to move with the power auger being down. As sunrise approached, we honed in on a few different holes that proved to have a better flow of fish passing through.
We worked round and round steadily picking fish most of the day. Around noon, the bite slowed up big time so we cut a small half circle of hole and found what direction they were moving in. For the rest of the day, we cut small groups of holes to follow the fish as they moved towards deeper water.
Our theory of having better luck when less people were on the ice didn’t seem to matter but by no means was the fishing poor. We caught fish all day and didn’t move much from our initial starting point.
Anyone that enjoys the outdoors knows the importance of lending a helping hand to expose people to the world around them. Both of us, along with several of our buddies, had the opportunity to assist Vermont Fish & Wildlife at their “Free Ice Fishing Day” kids clinic that was held at Lake Elmore. We were excited for the opportunity and were on the ice around daylight to help set up for the event.
After setting up numerous stations, we got the augers running and began punching holes for the jigging and tip up demos. As the 10am start time approached, everyone involved put the finishing touches on their stations and we all got a rundown on how things were expected to work.
Our station took a while for much traffic to show up as the anglers needed to visit several stations before grabbing a rod to attempt to catch their own fish. Once people started coming, it took a little over 4 hours before things began to slow down!
One of the most best parts of the day was seeing that even though it was a kids clinic, many adults were were just as involved with trying to learn how to fish. We had groups from as far as Connecticut come for the experience!
As for the quality of fishing, it was tough catching fish that were big enough to cook up at the fish frying station. We only caught a few keeper perch and one pike all day. Fortunately, the numbers of smaller perch were very high and most participants were able to catch at least a fish or two.
Weather-wise, it was a beautiful day and being part of a well run ice fishing event made us feel very fortunate. We can’t wait to help with future events!
I set up with a buddy on a summer smelting spot in hopes that the smelt would still be around. Neither of us had much experience fishing the lake through the ice so it was a shot in the dark as to whether or not we would go home with a skunk. As dark approached, slight flickers near bottom on the flasher started to reveal that we might be correct.
Once it was dark, it took about 5 minutes to hook into the first smelt of the night. It came from the bottom in just under 40 FOW. A slow retrieve up brought numerous fish up throughout the water column following. While things seemed like they were turning in our favor, that was not the case.
The next 2.5 hours were a struggle. We worked up and down in the water column with only a few more smelt coming topside. Even though the bite was slow, we constantly marked fish all around below us.
We changed up our presentation with as many variation as we could could come up with but nothing seemed to help. The bites were to few and light to be successful. I will be back again before ice out in hopes of better luck!
As we all get older our priorities seem to shift, we strive to order our lives in the best way we know how. Allowing our children to have the opportunity to love the outdoors and it’s offerings has moved to the top of the list for us. We were able to get Bobby’s son Henry on the ice for the first time this past weekend and it was truly a special moment for both father and son.
The day was set aside as a relaxed family day with most of our close friends. Fishing was low key as it was not the number one priority. We set up a few tip ups on a local inland lake, we cooked some food and just enjoyed each others company. Henry made it longer than we expected, lasting an hour and a half on his first ice fishing adventure. The fishing techniques was simple, “grab the line a run Henry” seemed to bring a few fish out of the hole. The look of pure enjoyment on Henry’s face after the first fish came through the hole was enough to make this trip a success.
It is so important to get our youth out of the house and experience the outdoors. Society is changing every day and our children have lost the experiences we were all so fond of growing up. If you get the chance please give a youth the chance to love the outdoors as we all do. They’re growing up fast with the use of technology, please try to put a Vexilar in front of them instead of them in front of an Xbox.
We are finally starting to see cars and trucks out on the ice which means it time to start expanding fishing spots. I ventured out with a few buddies to a new spot that sees very little traffic. We knew if there was any ice it was going to be thin.
We arrived around 5am and planned on fishing for about 2 hours in the dark. Things did not look great at first but after a quick check, we found there to be about 5″ of black ice nearing shore that thinned out to around 4″ after a decent walk.
Once we got perched above the weedbed, we cut a few holes, set up shop and started fishing. Almost immediately, the fish were biting. It was about as fast up and down as we could move in the dark. Pumkinseed, bluegill, perch, and crappie were all aggressive well before sunrise.
Daylight brought more of the same. Even though it was cold and there was a slight breeze, fishing outside the hub was enjoyable as the fish were hungry. We cut maybe 40 holes all day which proved to be enough to keep us constantly on fish. We hoped for a good number of crappie but only found a few dozen all day long.
The three of us ran maggots on yellow and red vertical jigs all day. It didn’t seem to matter how we jigged as long there was a pause when the marks got closer.