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!
This year, for the first time, the VSHTS had a Fish-Off. Basically, the winner got bragging rights and a free fish mount. The location for this even was Mallets Bay in Colchester. While the bite wasn’t great there were a few nice fish caught throughout the day.
Sitting with a few buddies on the outskirts of everyone, we had a school of rudd work through on a few different occasions. They were coming through in groups of 15-20 and took very little time to stop and look. I have caught a few of them through the ice but had never seen action like that. Very neat to see!
At the end of the day, the cold had taken its toll and heading home shortly after 2 felt good. Plenty of time to rest up to get back out tomorrow!
The final leg of the VSHTS was today at Laphams Bay on southern Lake Champlain. Today was about the points championship and Dylan had a slight lead over the rest of the field. He was feeling the pressure for sure. Reports of fish in the area were encouraging for the field of 38. You could find fish throughout the bay scattered but the fishermen seemed to focus in on two key areas. It was sure to be a shootout in close quarters.
Walking conditions were difficult for us short legged people at the start as we made our way out to our fishing spots. The plan for the day was to set up shop in our Clam shacks and see what we could do sight fishing. The water to start was fairly clear, and fishing 5 feet of water or less seemed to be the go to method for most anglers. Bobby’s first drop of the day produced a short black crappie but that was pretty much it.
Dylan made a major move to an area he had pre-fished the day before while Bobby stayed put and cut a few more holes working back towards the launch. With Dylan’s move he also changed his game plan for the most part. He decided to fish outside of his shack in hopes of fishing a few more holes searching out the aggressive fish. By 10 am Dylan had connected on a decent limit and was now looking to upgrade, Bobby on the other had was struggling again yet to catch a keeper crappie. By the end of the day however Bobby was able to put two decent crappie, a perch and three gills in his bucket for the weigh in. From what we had heard it was going to be close at the weigh in in terms of the points. Close was an understatement, Dylan was able to hold onto his lead and edge out first place by three one hundredths of an pound. This solidified Dylan’s points chanpionship for the 2014 VSHTS! Way to go Dylan. Bobby was able to have a decent season as he came in 8th place in total points for the four events. Can’t wait for next season.
Saturday Febuary 8th brought us to round 3 of the Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tounament Series at Mallets Bay on Lake Champlain. Conditions weren’t ideal at all, with temps in the teens and a wind chill around zero. Besides the weather, the bay was going to present it’s own challenges. The portion of Mallets Bay where this event was held, had ample room for fishermen to move around and fish plenty of water, but the fish seemed to be located on one particular weed bed which meant the fishing was going to be close quarters.
At 6 am, we were given the go ahead to start drilling holes and use our electronics but no lines in the water until 6:30. Most of the 36 fishermen all headed for that one weed bed and started drilling their holes. In hind sight, I think we drilled all the fish out of that area, as we started fishing the action was slow. Those that made slight adjustments in location were able to stumble upon the larger groups of fish that had been drilled out at first light. Dylan made a slight but significant move east and was able to connect on nice crappie that ultimately won him big fish for the day. Funny part was it was the same hole that his crappie came from yesterday! The bite was tough to say the least for the better part of the day. The fish were scattered and easily spooked when we would punch a few new holes.
Towards the end of the day, Dylan figured out that the crappie were suspending about half way down the water column and they were cruising, which means you didn’t always mark them on your electronics. Jigging at four feet would often bring a cruising crappie in and make them bite. This was a major adjustment made, as we had been fishing in the weeds for the better part of the event.
At the weigh-in Dylan checked in his 6 fish limit with two seeds, two crappie, one bluegill, and a perch giving him a weight of 3.68 pounds and good enough for first place along with his big fish prize. Bobby struggled all day to say the least not catching any crappies and weighing in a limit of seeds and dink perch for a weight of 1.78 lbs. At the end of the day, the win for Dylan was a major boost in the points moving him up to first place from 6th. Bobby’s weight caused his to drop a few positions down to 6th from third but he’s still in the hunt. The final points event for the season will take place at Laphams Bay in Shoreham on Febuary 22nd. It’s going to be a shoot out!
On the ice at 6, the mile walk to the GPS coordinate was a cold one with wind in the face. By the end of the trek, It was quite warm! It didn’t take long to find fish but the bite didn’t really pick up until later in the day. We both spent the entire day in one area because of the fish that were there yesterday.
Bobby had the plan to sit in one hole as soon as he caught a crappie but I didn’t think I could do that. While we spent about an hour trying to get on some crappie, I watched Bobby’s first one come up. I also saw him pop the hook and go up to his elbow trying to make the scoop. With no luck and a wet arm, he grabbed his shack and was hidden behind is blue wall for almost the remainder of the day. He was quiet so I knew he was onto something.
I worked round and round but most of my crappie all came within a few minutes of each other. Towards noon, everyone cleared out and the bite picked up. Most holes held a crappie or two but it took a few minutes for them to replenish. Having a 20 yard circle of productive holes, a few of us pulled fish little by little.
At the weigh in, the majority of people came in with their limit of 6 fish. There were lots of nice crappie but the gills and perch, as expected, were on the smaller side. Bobby took 3rd with a weight of 3.65 pounds and I finished 25 with a weight of 2.92 pounds. After two tournaments, overall Bobby is in 3rd place and I am in 6th. Good start for us to the season so far!
This past Saturday was the opening event for the Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tournament trail. The event took place at Dillenbach Bay in Alburgh Vermont. If you haven’t had a chance to make it to one of these events I would hope you might soon. Scott Blair and James Vladka are putting on an amazing event for the fishermen of the northeast.
The weatherman was calling for poor fishing conditions, 20-30mph winds and rain for most of the day. We made our way off the launch after the checking of our sleds at 6am. Walking through the darkness towards a way-point from the day before we were hopeful the fish were still there. We drilled out our grids and waited for the 6:30 start time. The first hour was slow, we marked very few fish and had to make a decision to stay here or make a move. We knew that we needed a little sunlight to wake the fish up and get them active, so we waited. A little daylight made a huge difference. About an hour into the day we started to notice a little movement on the screens of our Vexilars. Sure enough there were still a few fish in the area from the day before. Dylan was able to have a limit of perch and seeds from just one hole. Bobby was struggling a bit until he matched jig color and went to a slightly different color plastic. This made a difference as we both shortly had respectable limits in a few hours time. With fish to weigh in we decided to make a move in search of bigger seeds and perch and hopefully a few crappie.
We made a big move and worked in towards shore where nobody had fished. Dylan had seen fish here on the camera the day before and we were thinking they were untouched. We arrived, drilled our grid, and nothing, not a fish in sight. We didn’t waste any time and we went to another spot that held crappies the year before, still nothing. Knowing there were fish around we started working our way back to our initial location hoping to bump into a few. Dylan was the first to find something beneficial and stumbled upon a few jumbo perch, catching one good one that ultimately would be his kicker fish. Bobby had found a few fish about a 100 yards past Dylan’s perch. This is where we would spend the rest of our day picking a fish here and there.
The weather had a major impact on this fish and the fishing. The wind made it near impossible to feel or even see any sort of bite. We really had to rely on our electronics for bite detection. At around 1pm the skies broke open and the rain came down hard. We could tell that the grill was in working order as our noses brought us to shore. Both of us fared well at the weigh-in. Dylan took third place (in the money) with 3.18lbs and Bobby 4th with 2.99 pounds. A good outing for us amongst 49 other fishermen and we hope to keep it up at the next event slotted for January 25th at Larrabees Point. Hope to see you all there.
For more information you can check out Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series or following them on facebook.
On September 7th and 8th, we (Dylan Smith and Robert Booth D & B Ice Adventures – an organization formed to promote fishing in the Northeast) both of Barre, Vermont will be participating in a 24 hour fish-a-thon on the Connecticut River. The event is organized by Recycled Fish to raise awareness to the numerous issues that exist in our waterways throughout the county. Today, Recycled Fish leads the way in a national movement of fisherman who want to live a lifestyle of stewardship on and off the water. The fish-a-thon will be catch and release and time will be spent cleaning up garbage along shores. Throughout this event, we will be collection donations that will be split 50-50 for use by Recycled Fish (nationally and locally) and Trout Unlimited (locally). The Trout Unlimited donation will be dedicated to the Upper Connecticut Home Rivers Initiative. This project is focused on replacing culverts that will increase connectivity in otherwise segmented spawning stream sections due to impassible culverts as well as increasing habitat for cover. To donate to this cause visit: Here
We will be launching in the evening in search of a night walleye bite on the river. This is a relatively new adventure for us and some might think we are a bit crazy for fishing a large river at night but I think we’re prepared. We are all set try use many different methods in search of some eyes including trolling shallow cranks, bottom bouncers, vertical jigging(our bread and butter) as we will be floating the Thill Slpash Bright bobber .
For more information and questions contact:
Dylan Smith – 802-272-8351 or Dylan8351@gmail.com
Robert Booth – 802-461-5593 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Teeg Stouffer – Executive Director/Recycled Fish (402) 933-3443 or email@example.com