1-22-16 – Early Ice Night Bite

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!

0122161832

Advertisements

1-15-16 – Basin Crappie

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!

0115161012a

1-8-16 – Brookie Slam

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.

0108160928

1-7-16 – Early Ice But With A Late Start

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.

earlygill

 

12-18-15 – Winter Prep Scout Trip

While we wait for some ice posts to  start up, lets talk about ways to improve your early ice success. In the past, we have written about scouting for productive weed patches before the ice forms but there is more to it than that. Knowing what makes them productive is key.

A few weeks ago, Andy and I spent time looking for crappie spots that would fire up for early ice on Lake Champlain. We went prepared with minnows and plastics. Knowing that there aren’t many fish that can resist fatheads, we planned on casting “Live” Baby Shad until we put some panfish in the boat, then we would anchor up and try to fine tune our presentations.

It didn’t take us long with the use of side imaging to find the main weed edges in a larger area and that was where we started fishing. While we had a strong wind from the west, there was a small bluff blocking that majority of what would have made it a very tough day. When the wind would let up, we could see the weeds. The taller weeds might have held fish but unless you can vertical jig, it is very tough to fish without constantly tangling up. Once we found weeds that were tall but tipped over at about 2′ off bottom, we started catching fish.

The crappie were suspending 2-3 feet below the surface in 5-8 feet of water and chasing minnows. Once we found the right depth to set our bobbers at, the bite stayed steady. We worked the “Live” Baby Shad all day and threw out a bonus rod tipped with a minnow. We caught pike, bass, crappie, and bluegill on it.

The bite preference changed several time over the course of the day. We had some wicked snow flurries that put over an inch of snow in the boat. Much of the day was spent in a white out! When the snow was flying and wind was blowing, the fish were super active and fishing fast seemed to produce the biggest fish with not many missed opportunities. When the wind would let up and the sun showed, dead sticking or the minnow was really the only way to catch fish.

We messed around on different types of weeds but only milfoil that was tipped over produced. Once we figured an area out, fishing the taller weed edges seemed to be the main corridors for movement. The fish preferred nastier conditions and we the best way to describe the bite was that we had to match the retrieval speed with the wind.

1219150959 1219151405a

1-5-16 – And We’re Back!!!

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!

dylan8351_2015-04-27_07-11-12

3-15-15 – Mixed Bag

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!

0315151219 0315151245