Tag Archives: Clam

1-26-13 – Cold Day To Be A Crappie

Having been tied up with other responsibilities for the past two weekends and not able to fish I was excited to get back on the ice.  I decided to make a day trip to a spot 2 hours away.  We arrived at our location with decent conditions.  The mercury was finally above zero for the first time in five days, and the wind at this point wasn’t an issue.  I loaded my shack and made the 80 yard walk to where I would be fishing for the day.

I drilled out an area, shallow to deep.  It’s always a good idea to cut your holes first thing, one it will save you time later and two, it will spook the fish only once if the fish are sensitive to sound.  I started fishing the deep hole to begin with.  The vex was marking fish in 16 feet of water all through the water column.  First drop produced a small crappie, second drop, small crappie.  One thing that I have noticed about this spot is that these fish school in relation to size most of the time.  If you’re catching small fish you’re in a nursery school of fish.  I made a move to the next hole working my way out of the deeper water up towards the shallower shelf.  Right off the bat I hooked into a heavier fish, bass.  OK; well now I know the bass are set up waiting for those small crappie to make a mistake, I made another move, this time more drastic.  I found ten feet of water, fish were stacked on the bottom four feet.  First drop was a beautiful 13″ crappie.  Next few fish were all decent in size, bigger than before.  We continued to work the 10 foot range and were able to produce several decent fish through out the course of the next few hours.

As the morning went on the wind picked up and it became difficult to fish outside of our shacks.  As the sun went higher the fish slid shallower.  This is something we have noticed before while fishing setbacks off the main river.  The fish tend to seek out more cover even if it means going shallower when deep holes are present.  Large weed flats are great places to find active fish during high light conditions.  Another important thing to note was that the fish were not tolerating a presentation for long.  I was constantly changing my jigging cadence and my Maki Plastic to keep the fish interested.  These plastics teamed with a Bentley gold colored tungsten jig worked well for both the deep and shallow water applications we used today.

All in all it was a good day, unfortunately I wasn’t able to “fish” the way I wanted to as was confined to my shack for comfort.  It was a good day learning a few new tricks and applying some older ones to be successful.

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1-10-13 – Ice Team TV Episode 4 Filming Day 2

We had the pleasure to be a part of the fourth episode of Ice Team TV and fishing with some of the best that The Clam Ice Team Pro Staff has to offer.  This was a great experience and and we appreciate the opportunity.

The day started off a little quicker than the previous since we already had the unloading and preparation shots the film crew needed so it was right to fishing.  The fish hadn’t moved much from the previous day and since we were fishing the same spot it didn’t take long to start pulling in some quality fish.  It was a typical river bite, early morning hours often bring a steady flow of water into the setbacks.  It’s important to understand this concept when you’re fishing a river system that has a dam system.  It’s actually simple to understand.  When  water flows into these setbacks, creating a higher water level the fishing is usually good.  Why? The water flow causes the zoo plankton and small bait fish to circulate, thus creating a great opportunity for the larger fish to feed, and get caught by us the fishermen.  Watch the USGS Water Date site to dam openings and closings in your area.  If the setback you fish is between two dams make sure you are aware of both the upper and lower openings and closings.  A good in-flow is created when the dam above is open, allowing for more water to come out and when the lower dam is closed or letting out less flow creating a back up of water.

As the sun grew higher in the sky the flow also depleted causing the fish to move from the deep channel into the thick weed flats.  (Look for the inside turns adjacent to the main channel to hold concentrations of fish.)  Fishing slowed down a bit but we were still able to stay with them and pick at them for the next couple hours.  Our presentation was a milk pink Maki plastic rigged on a gold head Bentley Tungsten Jig.  Later in the day a few red maggots helped to entice the fish into biting.

All and all we have a very productive day on the setback.  Make sure to watch for episode four from Ice Team Tv to pick up more tips and tricks from the ice world.  Bring It!

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This fish was caught early in the morning in the channel while the water was flowing into the setback.

9-29-12 -Eliminating Patterns

The summer has been a productive one on the river for us with the walleye bite.  We found great fishing in the timber and along shoreline brush.  That action seems to have come to an end.

The surface temp on the river has dropped 12 degrees in two weeks, putting in now at  58.5 degree temp.  The walleye are out roaming, well at least that’s what I’m assuming due to this below average day of fishing.

I was greeted by cool temps and a slight drizzle when I pulled up to the launch on Saturday morning.   It was a good thing I had my Blue Suit made by Ice Armor to keep me warm.  Pulled up to my first spot that has produced awesome numbers this summer as well as two larger than average fish.  The first drop is usually a sure bite, but nothing.  I worked the area more and finally keyed into a change.   The fish were there, maybe not in the numbers that we had seen during the warmer months and they were very lethargic, maybe cold rainy mornings make them stay in bed a lot later too. . . . .  The key to the vertical jigging presentation on this day was to lay the bait on the bottom and slightly lift so that the jig would barely tickle the bottom.  A fast action rod was also key today as most bites we undetectable until you lifted.  I did hook into two nice fish, one shook the jig at the boat and another was a solid fish that got off after I pulled it from the timber, by the looks of the gold I saw when it rolled it was a nice one.  The only fish I boated at all three of my “go to” spots were three short walleye, a couple perch and a rock bass.  Not a good average.

No worries, the fish will move back onto to the structure, it’s only a matter of time before we’re back on the river vertical jigging for walleye.

Check out Another Cold Day On The River on our YouTube page!

3-25-12 – First Time Seeing the Glory Hole With Open Water

So this winter we were lucky enough to stumble upon a great little spot that held huge amounts of crappie.  The fish were stacked up all winter in a deep hole on a bend.  Deep water crappie excite me but we had a lot of learning to do.  With all the warm weather up here last week, I was excited to take the drive and see if the ice was out at the hole.  We were on ice there a week and a half ago and there was still a foot and a half of ice, so I was not sure what I was going to find.  Well just before the spot there is a small lake that was still completely iced over, my excitement soon shrank.  A few more miles up the road it came back again, the spot was iced out, Game On!

There is no boat launch to this spot so I was forced to bring my small little row boat and Mark to help me get it into the water.  The temps were cold, 40 degrees when we got there in the morning and raining.  With my Clam blue suit in hand, I grabbed my Vexilar and loaded up the boat and slid it down the bank into the water.  Row Row Row we did to the hole where we were successful all winter.  As soon as we got there Mark snagged a nice little Crappie.  I decided to run a Fat Boy made by Lindy under a bobber  7-8′.  From what I saw this winter, most of the larger fish were caught 6-8 feet down cruising the channel of the deep water.  I knew I would catch less fish but I also knew that if I did hook one then it would be a dandy.  It didn’t take long to watch my bobber disappear and I had a decent 11″ Crappie.

We found one spot where I was marking a ton of fish on the Vexilar and so I decided to take the bobber off and vertical jig some “big reds”.  It was tough because in my excitement to load the truck the night before I forgot to throw in my anchor. Our biggest dilemma of was the day was that we were unable to stay right on top of the fish.   I did manage to also pull up some really nice river perch in the deep water that were schooled with the crappie.  The most effective method was a Fat Boy tipped with a white Mister Twister rigged under the bobber 7-9  feet.  “This did make for interesting casts, Mark was on the look out all morning!”

Once our clothes were wet enough that we were shaking from the cold damp March day, we decided to do some exploring.  Since this spot always produced we had never really seen what the rest of the setback had to offer.  We loaded up the boat, sat in the truck for a bit to warm up and took a walk.  To my surprise we found some of the best spawning habitat I had ever seen.

The ice was just out here as I could tell since the crappie were still in their suspended holding pattern so this spot had not warmed up enough to draw the fish in.  You can bet that I’ll be there next weekend to learn more about these Glory Hole crappie!

Here are some pics of some of the days catch.

3-3-12 – The Weather Made The Day

So as you have seen in earlier posts, I had a pretty decent day at the VT Sportsman last tourney held at Dillenbech Bay on Lake Champlain in Alburg,VT last Saturday.  There was certainly a lot of luck that lead to me to my final weight but some other things conveniently fell into place.

To begin, the weather was the worst I have ever fished in.  The temps weren’t bad but the wind was a steady 25mph at the get go and was gusting up to 55mph.  Like most of these tournaments, I was going to have to spend a lot of my time inside my Clam Shack.  I pre-fished the day before and found that the fish were not in the locations that they normally were in this bay.  They had been the week before but the recent snowfall cover on the ice had pushed them elsewhere.  It was up to Dylan and I to find that new location.  I had a feeling that the school had pushed out into deeper water.  We set out a little after six and walked right by the crowd which was right where we always fished and out to deeper water.

As soon as I picked my auger up out of my sled the wind literally tossed my shack up side down and dumped all of it’s contents, the wind was blowing!  That’s a 50lb shack empty.  We cut holes and fished.  The first hour was slow, I managed to catch a few bluegill to put in the bucket but no crappie.  I decided that I was going to work south towards a rather larger inside turn that I saw on my Navionics. I cut a line of holes and at the end I caught a 10″ crappie.  I punched more holes and brought Dylan and our buddy Mark over.  At this point I was fishing out in the wind.

In order to detect bites better I had switched jigs and tied on a HT Tungsten glow and chartreuse tipped with maggots.  This added weight helped to keep my line tight in the hole and allowed me to feel the bites even with the wind gusting up to 55pmh.  This was the first move that the weather caused me to make that would prove successful.

Enough was enough, a fellow fishermen said he had been getting fish sight fishing, dead sticking minnows. So into my shack I went to see what was going on.  Truth be told, the Crappie were coming in right under the ice, anywhere between 6″-2.5 feet down.  The minnows however seemed to scare them.  I cut more holes and sight fished but had no hook ups. Finally, at about 10am the wind died and it started raining, more reason to stay in your shack right? Nope, not me, I got out of my shack with a feeling that this pressure change was going to turn the fish on.  I grabbed my rod with my Tungsten jig and thought about plastics. Maki Plastics makes great baits.  I’ve used a lot of his smaller profile baits this year but never really tried any of his bigger stuff.  I open my bag and dug through what I had.  I heard a voice in my head, the Voice of Jamie Vladyka, ” white is the Champlain color man”.   I pulled out a white bait that was probably 2-3″ long, looked like a worm with a devil tail, the Spiiki.

This bait was poison to the crappies for the rest of the day.  By now the cat was out of the bag and fellow fishermen were quickly moving in to our location.  It was hard to hide scooping a 12″ crappie that was too big to lift out of the hole, oh well that’s tournament fishing for ya.

The weather caused me to do two things that proved to be key today, one tie on a heavy jig, and two, rain and pressure change forced me OUT of my shack and the fished turned on.  I ended the day with a 4.73 bag of 6 fish and the big fish of the day weighing in at 1.58lbs.  A good day for sure!

2-20-12 – Day Two Of Sight Fishing

Went out for day number two of sight fishing for bluegill and pumpkinseed around 6am on an inland pond. First thing, the bite was on. Fish were suspended over the weeds in every hole. There were plenty of small fish mixed in with a few larger ones. I fished until they shut off around 9 and only the pickerel, pike, and bass seemed to be interested in any jig I tried. At this point I had been bit off by 6 pickerel/pike so I wasn’t too thrilled about fishing for them so I grabbed my camera and started scouting. I cut holes in both directions along the weed bed parallel with shore. The results proved to be no different so I cut shallower and deeper.

These new holes held fish because I could see them using my Aqua Vu underwater camera but they were tucked into the ones that had the thickest weeds. I decided I should at least try to punch through them to get after the fish. I only found two holes that I was able to get through  but they were productive. I caught 5 nice keepers between the two. I kept looking for holes that held fish. Although many did, it was practically impossible to get through to them. I kept returning to the two holes that I was able to fish but production slowed as the fish were fairly inactive. Around noon the fish started to move around below the weed line and I started catching them a bit more regularly but still slow.

Right around the time the fish started to move I had a buddy show up. We talked for a bit, ate lunch, watched an eagle eat some fish that people had left on the ice earlier in the day, then got back to fishing. It was around 1:3opm when the fish started to come out of the weed bed in search of food. We both started pulling them pretty good at this point. There were a few holes that fell into “the honey hole” category so it felt good to have go to spots rather than keep fishing dead holes.

The best hole we had was completely different from the others that produced. The weeds were alive and low, about 1.5 feet high, and had no dead weeds floating above them. The other hot holes were completely filled with dead weeds that floated back and forth the entire time with alive weeds below them. Obviously, the clean hole was pure sight fishing especially when the Clam flip over was used to dark everything out. The other holes were a bit tougher to fish. Sight fishing was not possible for the most part. I found a good rhythm for fishing them after a bit of experimentation. Because the dead weeds swayed back and forth I constantly got tangled up in them and my jig would get covered in slime. I learned to fish up and down the water column and only drop down into the weeds when an opening was made in the top layer of weeds. I found that most hits came when dropped after a long  pause of waiting for the weeds to move.

Ended up quitting for the day just before 6pm. It was a long day on the ice but it was a very good one to be out there. The fishing slowed as the sun set below the trees so we didn’t feel the need to stick around and waste time. After packing up, we made the long walk back to the car and headed home to get prepared for another day on the ice tomorrow!

Come back tomorrow for another report!

Tools Of The Trade

Tools Of The Trade
(The Modern Pan-Fishermen)

The first jig rod I ever caught a fish on was hand-made, nothing more than a crafted piece of wood. Today, 15 years later my rods are custom built from the finest graphite blanks and designed to catch specific fish and detect the lightest of bites. Ice fishing has gone through a major revolution in recent years. By all means, what you’ve got will work, but if you are willing to adapt to these new methods and tools then you will see more success on the ice.
The modern age of ice fishing has created the finesse ice fishermen. It has become common practice to put down the large wooden jigs sticks with 10lb test and pick up a lighter graphite jig stick spooled with 2-4lb test, have boxes full of jigs, and carrying a Vexilar from hole to hole. All of these things are an essential tool for me while chasing panfish in the lakes and rivers of the Northeast.
I have three rods that I use. The first is a True Blue made by Clam, the second is a custom built “Meatstick” by Jason Mitchell, and the last (which I use the most) is a Riversider. Each rod has it’s own productive qualities that help me detect bites in different situations. All of these rods are in my rod case because they are durable and they get the job done. These rods are also very affordable for the average “weekend warrior”, they are all pretty much under forty dollars.
More important than the rod, is the jig. I mostly fish for bluegill, perch and crappie, having a variety of jigs is a huge advantage for me in catching fish. Believe it or not, I have found that smaller is usually better. There are two types of ice jigs on the market today, vertical and horizontal. Vertical jigs are soldered jigs and are for most fishermen their “go to jigs”. My favorite vertical jig is an orange and chartreuse teardrop Caty jig tipped with 3-4 spikes. These jigs are small, but the teardrop shaped blade gives it a deadly downward flutter, often times triggering the fish to bite. This action allows the fishermen to fish the entire water column, targeting the most active and aggressive fish. The second type of ice jig is a horizontal jig. These are somewhat new to the market and these jigs consist of molded metals in all shapes and sizes, and now metals, including tungsten which is heavier than lead. These jigs offer the fish a different presentation. Unlike the vertical jig, these jigs swim. They have a sudden side to side up and down movement that mimics small bait fish or a small insect. Teamed with a micro plastic, this bait can be very productive. My go to horizontal jigs are Custom Jigs and Spins Diamond Jigs, and their Gill Pill. One of these jigs tipped with a micro plastic, say by Maki Plactics, will surely put more fish on the ice.
Out with the old and in with the new, well only if you want to. The old techniques will always work to a certain extent, but I encourage you to finesse more fish on the ice this season and try some of the tactics of the Modern Ice-Fishermen.

This Article can be found in The New Hampshire Vermont Outdoor Gazette