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.
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.
Our long and drawn out early ice this season has put a damper on our night trips but we finally made it out for a few hours last week. Ice conditions were good with almost a foot of ice as we scouted an area to set up for the evening. It’s usually in your best interest to doing a little bit of scouting before you land on a spot for the night, especially if your fishing a new body of water or if the fish your after are difficult to pattern.
We cut a string of holes an hour or so before dark. We focused our attention a few different points of natural structure. This particular basin lake had a few small weed covered humps protruding out of relatively deep water. We started our line of holes on and around the hump in an attempt to locate fish. After fishing through the holes, we decided to cut along the weed edge on the first major contour break. It didn’t take long for us to hit a hole with with active crappie in it. After we iced our first fish, we decided that was enough for us to set up the Clam hub and our Hydro Glow fishing light for the night.
There were some active fish in the area as we were able to hook into them right off the bat. The fish were coming through in waves, maybe five to six at a time right near the bottom. Most times we find them suspending just above the weeds but that’s the beauty of having a fish finder. Adjusting to the bite is much less troublesome when you can see where the fish are rather than guessing.
The fish bit pretty consistently until 7:15 but we stuck it out until 8:15 in case things changed. They didn’t so we headed home and packed up for the next morning!
I was fishing a medium sized inland pond with a few buddies searching for crappie that roam over a large basin. After checking all the ice to make sure it was safe, we cut some holes and got to fishing.
The basin we were focusing on had a max depth of 25′. As we fished around, it was clear that the fish cruised anywhere from 22-25′. There was no hesitation when they moved through. As long as your bait was within a few feet of them, they would come up or down to hit.
All day long, I fished with a Half Ant Drop by Clam Outdoors tipped with 3-4 maggots. When I am in an area that is producing mainly crappie, I don’t worry about what I am using for bait because in general they don’t pluck the baits off like bluegills or perch. I think I could count on one hand how many times I had to put new bait on all day!
Success was a achieved today by speed. A quick up and down kept the fish below and aggressive. Having buddies nearby was also a benefit as the large schools of roaming fish could be slowed up while in feeding mode.
We released all the crappie but kept a few yellow perch for an upcoming fish fry!
I returned to a place that I swore off for the rest of the year as the bite had been slow and very busy. With a heavy wind in the forecast , It was one of the places I thought that I would be sheltered though.
The fishing was as expected. It was slow but there were a few pickers in the mix if you hole hopped enough. With one decent fish per hole in the right area, it took a while for dinner to find its way into the bucket.
The majority of the fish were found cruising around open water suspended quite a ways from any weeds. Very backwards from a normal bite here. With late ice in the air, you can’t rule out any of the usual locations.
The fish were also particular with what they wanted. They liked a small gold jig and bubblegum plastic with one to two maggots stacked on top. From hole to hole the cadence also changed. Some liked it pounding while others preferred deadsticking.
It was a frustrating day but I ended up with a nice mess of fish to take home!
I took the day to catch up on chores around the house but made plans mid day to chase an evening crappie bite with my buddy Mark. We ended up on the ice shortly after 4 and got right into the fish.
The fish were cruising a weed flat in 10-12 feet of water. They preferred the holes with weeds that came up to about 5 feet but could be caught just about anywhere. When you found them, they were super aggressive! We tried multiple jig, plastic, meat combos but it didn’t seem to matter as long as it was moving.
As the sun started to set, the fishing slowed but with fish still cruising, you just had to wait. Just about every fish that went through bit. As time went by we iced some nice crappie with the biggest pushing 13″. While the majority of the fish came through 6-8 feet off bottom, we did pick several right out of the mud.
We released them all for next time and packed it in just before 10.
The posts have been lacking lately but with a change in the seasons coming, times are busy!
After a solid solo morning trip for gills, the main focus of my day was an evening trip I had planned with a buddy. He wanted to catch some cusk but after a few weeks since my last trip, I was unsure how the bite would be. Regardless, I had a bucket of dead shiners and plenty of batteries for the headlamps.
We were set up well before dark with cutbait staggered between 20-60 feet of water. No action occurred before sunset and it took a while for anything after dark set in. With a super slow bite in progress, we hooked up the hydro glow and jigged up smelt to pass the time.
Fortunately, the smelt were willing to bite. With only a few cusk coming topside we at least redeemed our night. After a few hours we packed things up and made way for home!
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!