Tag Archives: Bobby Garland

5-29-12 – Thunder and Lightning Crappies!!!!

I got out of work early yesterday due to a bomb threat so I called some buddies and we went to check out a crappie bite that had been hot recently.  The weather was bad, hit or miss thundershowers all day.  I looked at the radar and the closest storm was over the great lakes so I thought we had some time to get a few hours in.  I picked up my buddy and his boat and headed to the lake.

We got to the lake at 1 pm and noticed some blackness overhead so we waited 15 minutes for a storm to blow over and we hit the water.  I was very familiar with the bay that we were on.  I had spent many hours ice fishing this bay on my own and also during the VT Sportsman tournament series.  The bay is notorious for holding large numbers of gills, seeds and crappies during the winter but it’s usually only a staging area for them.  The fish were there now and we had to find them.  The bay is nothing more than a larger 6-8′ flat with pockets of weeds.  Once you found the weeds you found fish.  A good graph would be key or in our case the Navionics app on my phone pointed us in the right direction.

It was not a good day to be bobber fshing.  The wind was blowing about 15mph from the south and boat positioning was an issue.  The wind also created some decent sized waves with white caps that I think was spooking the crappies away from our baits.  We managed to find a school of fish and I caught two decent crappies right off, but the anchor didn’t grab and we lost them.

Why were these fish here?  Well this is my theory.  We have had a really dry spring here in Vermont.  These fish usually head for one of two near by creeks to spawn.  I don’t think they ever made it due to the lake level being so low.  I think these fish decided that it would be better to save their energy and spawn in the shallow weed beds and stick marsh of the bay.  Hopefully they make this decision for years to come!

Back to the fishing.  The three of us tried lots of different baits to try and get the crappies to bite.  The two most successful baits were the Berkley Gulp Minnow , and the Bobby Garland Baby Shad rigged under a bobber on a 1/16oz jig.  The bite slowed but I had another theory that payed off.  We were catching white perch one after another and they were feeding aggressively.  We see this a lot in the winter with the gills and seeds in which their feeding activity actually causes the crappies to bite less or the fact that they are lazy and the seeds and gills beat them to the bait.  Another factor working against the crappie on this day was the weather.  The waves were big, and the lake was churned up and the crappies were laying in the weeds on the bottom.  I took my bobber off and decided to slow role my jig tipped with the Gulp minnow.  First cast I pulled a nice 12″ crappie.  I would cast out, count to 7 figuring a 1′ drop per second, and then slowly swim the jig through the weeds.  This got the bait below the white perch and into the crappie laying in the weeds on the bottom.

We ended the day boating some nice fish and running away from another big thunderstorm.  I kept a few for dinner and that’s that.

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5-24-12 – Crappie Infestation?

We found a local pond this winter that was holding some crappies.  This was a big deal for us since our closest place to catch some crappies was a minimum of an hour driving time one way.  This is a small pond with an abundance of bass, perch, pumkinseed  and pickerel and apparently now crappie.

I was met with a strong west wind yesterday when I arrived at the launch.  This would be my second trip out this week so I was still learning the pond, my Navionics app on my phone was a big help.  I highly encourage anyone who spends time on the water or the ice that has a smartphone to look into it.  It’s very affordable and will maximize your fishing time.  Areas that I was looking for where the deep holes, sharp breaks and flats with structure (in this ponds case fallen trees and weeds) close to the deep holes and and breaks.

The surface temp in Vermont has shot up quickly in the past two weeks.  Yesterday I had a 70 degree reading.  I knew that this meant most of the crappies had already spawned so I focused on the areas I mentioned before in hopes of finding them post spawn.  Using my Navionics app  noticed that the north shore of the pond had a very sharp break into 28 feet of water so I headed there.

The techniques was simple, I was set up with a Bobby Garland baby shad under a bobber using my 9′ Riversider ultralight rod.  I worked the bait shallow to deep cruising the shoreline with my trolling motor on a speed of one until I got a bite.  I would stop when there was structure in the water and work the area more.  I was very pleased to find that many of the trees blown down on the shore line actually extended out a ways into deep water.  Many of them extended as far out as 15 feet of water which in a crappie fisherman’s eyes is an ideal depth to find  crappie holding on structure.  Most of the fish that I caught here in the 6-10′ range with hard structure.

I was a little discouraged to catch over 40 crappies in my two trips and not one of  keeper quality, ok well maybe one was of the legal 8″ inch size.  I guess that’s good news for a couple years down the road.  I was also able to hook into a few bass, one an acrobat, and way too many pickerel.  Click on this link to see a GoPro video of a crappie being caught.

5-5-12 – Walleye Season Kick Off

This past Saturday May 5th marked the opening day of walleye Season here in Vermont.  I had the opportunity to fish with Scott Blair.  The plan was to head north to the Missisquoi River which is usually a great early season walleye destination.  The weather man was calling for cloudy skies in the morning and temps in the 50’s, not the case.  After a late start because of over two hours of travel time, we arrived to find the parking lot of the boat launch packed full of cars and trucks with trailers from other fishermen. This spot is no secret and from the stringers we could see when launching the boat the fish were biting.

We launched the boat and managed to find a spot in the mess of boats, there were probably 30-40 boats fishing a quarter mile stretch of river.  The presentation was simple.  A 1/4oz or 3/8oz jig head tipped with a minnow, jigged over the side of the boat.  There was a decent amount of current that day so it took a little strategic maneuvering by Scott to keep the boat in position.   River jigging can be a little tricky at times, the idea is to work the trolling motor so that the boat is slowly moving up river, jigging over the side while the current will work the bait towards the back of the boat.  It is a very difficult technique to master.  It’s important to match the weight of the jig with the amount of current so that you can always stay in touch with your jig bouncing on the bottom.  When the current is strong a 3/8oz jig will help you feel the bottom when is key since the fish are laying on the bottom and most strikes occur when when the jig is falling.  Calmer conditions will allow you to fish smaller jigs as the weight is not necessary in order to feel bottom.   Detecting bites is the hardest part, many times you won’t actually feel a “bite” there will just be weight, it’s either a fish or a tree, for me it was usually a tree.  We like to use an 8-9 foot rod with a fast tip,  6-8 lb line with a 4lb leader connected to the main line by a barrel swivel.

I hate to say it, but we missed the bite, many boats had very respectable stringers that arrived at dawn.  We only managed one fish and that was caught by Scott the walleye magnet!  We did have quite a few bites that we missed due to our lack of experience detecting these bites.  The one fish that was boated was warty. .  This is a common condition in Vermont and the state issues no warning against consuming these fish. This disease is present mainly in adult fish and is most commonly found in their spawning grounds while the fish are in close quarters or at times touching More information can be found on the VT Fish & Wildlife site at “Lymphocystis and Walleye Dermal Sarcoma“. You can see the fish with warts below.

All and all, not the best day in terms of catching but any day on the water with good friends and fishing is a great day in my mind.  We’ll be back after the walleyes this week and will have more to share.  Thanks for reading.

4-14-12 – A Blue Bird Saturday

After doing some house hold chores that had been building up since the end of ice season I pulled my boat up to Lake Champlain on Saturday morning. Weather at departure was overcast skies and temps in the low 40’s.  The plan was to be meeting up with some of the boys from VT Sportsman and see if we could put some crappie in the boat. Arrived at the launch at 9 and managed to get the boat in and only get a little bit of water in my boots. I arrived at my spot to find only one other boat there and one person fishing from shore, luckily I was good friends with the shore fishermen and knew who the boys in the boat were.  I pulled in, dropped my anchor and made a cast, nothing.  The boys in the boat were pulling fish left and right so I did my best to re-position ethically to a spot where I could reach the fish.  The fish were on fire for the first hour, however the bait that they really wanted was a Bobby Garland baby shad in Black Bubblegum.

The fish were schooled up pretty hard and with the right cast you would get bit every cast.  Most crappies in the morning were all worthy of the cooler and I did see many nice fish (12″) being caught.

As the day went on we were joined by many more people who knew that the bites was on.  The overcast day turned into a blue bird day.  I don’t mind other people fishing around me, but I was constantly being blocked off with my casts by another fishermen.  Not very ethical in my mind. So me being who I am decided that I would leave fish to get away from the crowd, not a great idea.  I fished nearby in some areas that had the same structure as the one where we were getting fish but only found small perch.  So, I made my way back and set up in  a different spot.  By this time the bite was slowing considerably and the fish were spread out making things much more difficult.   The water temp was only 45 degrees, I think these fish were here because the bait was there. I did however check on my Navionics app and noticed that this part of the way was actually an inside turn, and the exact spot that the fish were in was the turn itself.

The crappies stopped biting and the bluegill came in, which is probably the reason why the crappies vacated the area.  I switched up my baits to a small Mister Twister Tail in a motor oil color and managed to boat some really nice bluegill and pumpkinseed.  Ended the day with a dozen crappies and 24 nice bluegill and pumpkinseed. Wish I would have been there at daylight!

“Must Have’s” for Spring Time Crappie (part 1)

Thought I would take a quick moment to write about the baits that have been effective this spring and their presentation.This is the Baby Shad made by Bobby Garland.  This bait is a recent addition to our Crappie arsenal and has proved it-self over and over again.  This bait is made in 45 different color combo’s and they also have it in 10 glow patterns.  The presentation has been pretty straight forward.   All we are doing to rigging the bait on a small jig head.  Dylan has mostly been using a an ice jig made by Bentley.  I’ve been using nothing more than a 1/64 or 1/32 oz painted jig head that you can buy just about anywhere.  We are fishing these baits under and bobber, adjusting the depth as needed depending on the fish.  The presentation when the fish are there and active is simple.  Cast out to the school, count to “3” and set the hook.(that’s Dylan’s way)  When the fish are acting a little fussy, a good technique is to bounce the bobber back towards you.  This will make the fineness tail of the Baby Shad flutter and trigger a lot of bites.  Another great presentation is simple, swim the bobber back in, using frequent stops.  Sometimes the fish just want the bait moving.  You’ll have to try your own techniques to see what’s going to work best for that day.

We have recently been talking with the guys over at Lake Fork Trophy Lures, they have had many requests to slim down a very popular bass bait for use on Slab Crappies.  What they have come up with looks dynamite!  Lake Fort lures has a 2 1/4 “Live” Baby Shad which is the smaller version of their Magic Shad designed for bass.  From what I have seen through reports and pictures, this bait is going to be a must have for me.  Their design is a little different.  They have patented their segmented “swim slots” into the baits which gives it a swimming action as if it were a live shad.  This bait is offered in 35 colors right now and we are very excited to try these baits out.  Look for a thorough review later!

4-7-12 – Limits On The River

We were packed up and on the road this morning shortly after 6am. We hit the baitshop on the way thinking that fatheads would be the ticket. Upon arrival to the Connecticut River, the weather was calm, partly cloudy, and the temp was in the low 30’s. The water was glass so we figured using the small rooftop boat would be no issue being that our only motor were the oars.

We launched the boat and quickly realized that we were in for a quick, cramped trip if the fishing was poor. We slightly over packed for the room we had. Funny thing was, we only used about a tenth of what we brought. The rest was just for added weight.

The beginning started slow with only one short crappie and some decent perch being caught. We had one boil on a perch by a large northern pike as it came towards the boat. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, it didn’t grab the perch causing a commotion we certainly didn’t need in the tiny, flat bottomed boat! It took maybe a half hour for us to actually find the crappie in the large area that we were fishing but once we did, it was on. Here is the first keeper crappie in the boat for the day.

In about two hours we were both able to get our limits of nice sized fish. The numbers and average size today was outstanding. One of the better days either of us have had in this hole. We had 43 true doubles and who knows how many dropped fish that could have skyrocketed that number! The total number of fish for the day was well north of 300. Can’t ask for much more than that!

This is what I look like when I don’t bring food…

We tried to take a shot of the two of us for the blog but we need a better photographer than a bucket on a side hill. Any takers? ha

Other than crappie, we were only able to catch perch. They were moving shallow for the spawn. Although most were in the 8-9″ range we caught some pretty decent sized males mixed in deeper with the crappie. Fishing the shore line with 5′ under the bobber was most effective. As soon as the bait was deep enough to stand the bobber up, the fish were biting. If we would have fished the shore line more, I think we could have each gotten a few meals.

We didn’t bring a thermometer but the water was still extremely cold and the fish were still holding tight in their winter pattern, suspending in deeper water. We both brought out Vexilars so we were able to know when and where the fish were cruising through. The majority of the fish we marked were down 10-14′ in 20+’ but we had the most success with out baits down only 5-6′.

We had brought the fatheads thinking that we would be able to target larger fish. This proved to be a waste of money for the day. We caught one crappie, one perch, and ended up dumping the rest on shore at the end of the day. We caught the rest of fish on baby shad by Bobby Garland. We only tried two colors today so its hard to say what worked and what didn’t. I ran chartreuse and red glitter while bobby used the albino shad. With the feeding spree going on today I think any color or similar shaped bait would have been effective.

4-6-12 – A Quick Trip To The River

I had a bit of time and the water levels looked good on the Connecticut River so I took a quick trip today.  The report that I got from a quick search on the internet in regards to water level of the downstream dam was that water was flowing out of holding at a rate of 10,200 cfs until 1pm then slowing to 1,300 cfs till 6pm. We haven’t gotten any good reports from these spots lately so I was hesitant but had to try with such a nice day!

The spot that I was planning on fishing today is rather shallow so I knew that I needed water in order for it to be productive. When I got there, the water was already at the base of the reeds so I bypassed it and headed to the next potential spot. The water here looked much better being that there is a good deep channel at all times. I fished up and down the setback and only was able to locate fish at one sheltered and channelized end.

Being that I was on the river, I was limited on my tackle options. I was fishing Bentley tungsten under a bobber tipped with a chartreuse and red flake Bobby Garland. I began fishing at a depth of 3′ and after a slow start I adjusted my depth just 4.5′. I changed the depth of my bobber for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t catching many fish and 2) the current had my bait swimming just below the water level because it was moving so fast. It was comical how fast my bait was moving when fished close to shore in the current.

About the time I changed my depth the water level stopped dropping rapidly. Noticeably, my casts were lasting much longer before being pushed to shore by the current. Because I was now fishing deeper in the water column and my jig was moving slower I was able to really work each cast the way I wanted to.

The first few casts in the new conditions produced some real nice perch. In the next 45 minutes I landed about 35 perch between 9-12″. They were all males as evidenced by the presence of milt. It was fun catching these fish as they were aggressive biting but slow to pull the bobber under. Their bites resembled crappies so much that each fish got me excited for its reveal!

I am positive that I rolled at least one flat fish today because I was able to see the fish as soon as I set the hook. The semi-clear and low water level  made it so the silhouettes only took a second to appear and one was a big round oval. Maybe next time I will know better!

I was limited as to what parts of the setback I could fish today because I didn’t have my boat or kayak. I could see fish on the far shore popping at the surface for part of the time I was there, mainly when the water flow slowed. I would imagine they were crappie because of the distinct sound they were making. All in all it was a good mid day trip and I will be back there soon!