Tag Archives: Crappie

2-5-16 – Good Day Off

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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3-13-15 – Crappie Evening Bite

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.

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3-5-15 – Spring Is Coming!

The fish are starting to stage up in the areas we wait to see them in all winter. These are the times when big catches and big fish are the norm. Whatever you enjoy fishing for, there aren’t many times better than this!

I had a relatively slow morning for keepers but the number of small fish was unreal. As I neared the limit of small fish coming through the hole, I started to scheme where else I could go. I settled for a nearby cove.

It took a bit to find a concentration of fish but I was rewarded with big seeds and footlong crappie. They were set up in sparse weeds with a large thick mat nearby. As the hours passed the quality never changed. I hole hopped until it was time to head home and had a mess of quality fillets!

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3-3-15 – Growing The Sport

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.

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3-1-15 – Where Was The Warm Weather?

The weatherman called for a nice day and was right but he was way off on the wind forecast! We set up on a recent bite that we had located with hopes the fish hadn’t moved.

The fish were there but no concentration remained. We fished round and round searching for something better. We cut in all directions but only one or two quality seeds would come from a hole.

As we got further from our initial waypoint the number of perch in the 7-9″range was unreal! Happy to be catching fish as quick as you could pull them, we posted up. The fish bit until the cold wind drove us home around 4.

While the flatfish weren’t there in numbers perch saved us. Maybe next time things will be better!

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2-22-15 – Panfish Slam In The Shallows

The day started off terrible. We were on the ice with two buddies and cut a ton of holes over a large area that usually produces this time of year. For the hour and a half that we were there, two of us cut while two ran under water cameras. We saw two small perch and one pike. Not what we were hoping for!

We made plans to check a few other spots depending on the foot traffic and to keep moving if it was busy. The first location was a bust so onward we went. The second stop wasn’t much better but there were a few holes between tip up fishermen. As we walked out, we knew the water was shallow but cutting shallow to deep is a good strategy so that’s what we did.

The first hole was in just over 3 FOW. Nothing. Second hole same depth, loaded with pumpkinseed. We decided to cut out a small test area. Things were looking up and there were also crappie, perch, and bluegill. The fishing was slow but most holes offered up a few fish. As we fished in circles, we found a few directions to cut in. The fish were all over but no concentration was evident.

Throughout the course of the day, we had some good runs of fish and the quality was decent. Action was constant all day as long as you never posted up in one spot for too long. All fish were high in the water column excepts the crappie. Kind of strange!

As the day faded, it was time to head for home. The wind was picking up and there was no need to get cold!

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