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.
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!
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.
I hit the ice with a few buddies and we were on location, cutting holes in the dark. Having not fished this bay yet this winter, our starting waypoint was from years past.
While the Vexilar showed little to no weeds, the fish were cruising and very aggressive. We started the day with around 50 holes. As we worked through them spread out, we keyed in on a few areas that seemed to have better concentrations of larger fish. With a good starting point, we cut more holes and tried to find their direction of movement.
As we fished round and round, it became evident that the fish were moving but not far. Most of the time, it was just a matter of cutting another row or two of holes to jump start the bite again. The auger wasn’t scaring them. If nothing else, it helped shake them up!
All morning long I was able to fish plastics with no issues drawing fish in and convincing them to bite. Around one things slowed down. A simple switch to maggots got things going again though.
The day ended around 3 and we left the ice with them still biting.
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 hit the road early with a few buddies. We set up shop for the day in shallow water. Mainly less than 6′. The baits were staggered at different depths with the concentration of them being in less than 3′ as the channel is narrow. We hooked up small shiners, half crawlers, and some powerbait.
We were set up around sunrise and the first flag caught us by surprise while we stood around and caught our breath from making sure things were good to go. When the flag popped we all heard the sound and started running. The straws were drawn and I was 3rd in rotation.
The best fishing of the day occurred from sunrise to 10am. We landed a dozen brookies and 2 rainbows. Big fish of the day was also the first fish, a 17.25″ brookie. The highlight of the day was us landing 5 fish in about 20 minutes from one hole that was in a foot of water. We got to watch the fish fighting on the way in as both the water and ice were crystal clear.
I told myself at the beginning of the day I would only keep a fish if it was hooked badly. By the end of the day, I had iced enough for a limit but all of them were hooked nicely in the corner of the mouth. While I went home empty handed, I had enough in the fridge for a meal of perch and crappie.
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.
It’s a late start to the winter but we are finally ready for the 2016 ice season here in the Northeast. We apologize that it has been so long since we’ve made a post but we’re back and ready to share our adventures with you all once again! We’ve got new and exciting tips and tricks to share in the months to come. The last year has been spent chasing new species and expanding our versatility to put fish in hand. We are still chasing panfish but are focusing on less pressured waters and new techniques. Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for whats to come!
As I add more years on to my age, I grow more and more concerned about getting our youth involved. A few of my students approached me about advising a Hunting/fishing club and without a doubt I accepted. I’ve had the chance to take them on the ice few times this year and as February break was almost over I took two of them to what I thought was going to be a hot bite and a positive time on the ice for these youngsters.
We made our way to the lake with a few extra Vexilars for the boys to use. Dylan and I had fished this spot the previous week and it was a hot bluegill bite. I thought it was going to be an easy day for the boys giving them a little confidence by putting some fish in their buckets. I drilled the area out and got the boys all set up and ready to jig. It didn’t take long for the two of them to start a baseball game, there was a great deal of swinging and missing going on as I fished beside them. After a few tips on presentation and ready the electronic in shallow weeds they were both hooking up a bit more. We fished for a few hours and I soon realized that the fish just weren’t here. I cut another grid of holes and went searching. I was able to locate some fish but they had slid to the weed edge in 9 feet of water and the weeds were right to the ice. This wouldn’t be a problem for me and Dylan but knowing that I had two young fishermen with me that had no experience reading electronics in thick weeds I decided it would be best if I took them to another body of water to target deep water suspending crappie.
We packed up our gear and made the short trip to a nearby setback. This particular setback was well known for a decent crappie bite early ice and I was hoping there might still be a few fish we could talk into biting. The conditions were poor, we had about 16 inches of heavy snow to deal with. I sent the boys out to clear a few spots in the channel for me to drill about 20 holes. It didn’t take long for one of them to get hooked up. As a matter of fact I don’t think I had even got my rod out yet. The first fish to come up was a decent little crappie, which to these boys was like pulling up a piece of gold. We had a short spurt where the fish would bite but it seemed like you’d only catch fish out of a hole that was fished for the first time, these fish are the fussiest crappie I have ever met. Both boys were able to catch a few fish, one even landing a nice pike. That’s what this sport is all about. Teaching and passing on what we have learned to the generations will only support a positive experience for those to come.
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.