The weekend warrior of ice fishing needs to be prepared in order to maximize their time spent on the hard water. How do you choose where you are going fishing each weekend? I’m sure we all have our go to spots that consistently produce fish, and I know it’s hard to leave fish to go find fish but D & B Ice Adventures enjoys the challenge. Here are a few things that we look for when searching for fish. The first thing you need is a good updated lake map. Your two best options are to go to the F&W page and print one off, or better yet, if you’re running a smartphone, buy the Navionics App. With lake map in hand you should be looking for sharp contour lines, inside turns, deep basin’s close to weed lines and large flats. My top two places to look for would be inside turns and weeds that come up out of deep water. Fish will use these areas to hold up and ambush bait fish. Points are always good spots to check, that point will continue into the water creating some great cover, contour and ambush spots for the walleye, perch and crappie. When in search of panfish, I’ll look for large flats with green weeds. These green weeds will hold the life mater in which the bluegill and sunnies will be feeding on. For basin perch, find the basin and run and gun, these fish will be feeding on blood worms so pounding the bottom with a spoon of small jig should produce fish. Maki Plastics makes a great bait for this situation called the bloodi. Needless to say, spend some time doing your pre-fish homework and you’ll have better success when the time comes to get out and wet some lines!
I went fishing on Lake Champlain yesterday from 7:30 am to just before 5 pm. The bite was never hot and heavy nor were the fish of quality size. The picture below was my only seed over 9″. The weather report was far from what was called for not that I am complaining. The wind was suppose to blow 15-20 mph all day but luckily it didn’t pick up till later in the day. It was also suppose to be a sunny day but that never happened either. There was actually a fair amount of precipitation throughout the day. That’s ice fishing in Vermont for ya! As for the crowd, there were quite a few people out there fishing until the wind picked up. I think the lack of fish and deteriorating weather pushed people out early.
For the most part, every hole I fished had fish but the majority of them were filled with dink perch. There were a few areas that were replenished throughout the day though so I tried to get back while still searching around for better schooling areas. I found one spot that offered a good deal of snow coverage on the clear ice. I punched maybe 2 dozen holes in a small area that was about half clear ice and half snowpack ice. My first few drops produced decent seeds so I kept pounding the area. I was getting pretty frustrated with how frequent the little fish were stealing my bait so I changed up my presentation to a larger profile that included a plastic by Maki Plastics. Because the fish were still showing on the flasher, I put on the first plastic I found. It was a previously used red Maki that had turned to a maroon in my coat pocket. I then started having a lot of fish following from the bottom to just below the ice but not taking it readily like before while fishing meat. Three holes later, I landed my first crappie of the day. Over the next two hours I iced a dozen crappie and a good pile of gills and seeds. About the time the fish stopped showing on my flasher people started to clear out so I was able to move to other areas and not punch holes the rest of the day. The rest of the day was fairly consistent but still not a great bite.
I try to analyze my day after every trip. I think that if I don’t try to learn something from every fish I will never get any better. Some fish want it fast while some want it slow. Some want it put right in their mouth while others want it taken away so they have to charge. Figuring out what the fish want can make the difference between landing chips all day or catching a limit of quality fish especially on Lake Champlain where the fish are abundant. Some days it doesn’t matter though… You can do everything right or everything wrong and it could be the best or worst day on the water. My grandmother had a sign above her kitchen doorway with a picture of a cow in a green field on a beautiful bluebird day with its foot in a bucket with the quote: “someday’s you step in it, someday’s you don’t”. Not everyday can be a great day on the ice but one thing that I have learned is that it is better to work on new tactics and techniques and not catch fish than to go home early without a meal and twiddle your thumbs.
So looking back at yesterdays trip I ask myself, what did I learn? Well to start, don’t throw out your used plastics! Maki Plastics are durable and you can hook them anyway you want and still catch fish. Also, sometimes a new color can be made inside your pocket that is just what the fish want for the given day! When I switched from using spikes to a plastic not only did I weed out smaller fish but I started catching an entirely different species that was already in the area but I just didn’t know. Secondly, I changed my mind set that when there is clear ice, look for ice that has texture or snow to break up my silhouette. I caught more sunnies on clear ice in an 8″ hole than anywhere else. Lastly, get out on your own. When I caught my crappie I was away from everyone else. There were no holes and no one withing a short distance of me.
A little background to begin. This blog will have two authors who are nuts about ice fishing- especially when the elusive crappie is present. From the Canadian border to the questionable waters that may or may not be be part of southern Vermont’s licensing rights, one of us has most likely fishing there. We fish hard, fast, and we like to think smart. Between the two of us we have caught some quality fish that are in the record books!
Now meet your hosts:
My name is Dylan Smith. I grew up in central Vermont but didn’t hit the ice until the ripe age of 21. I started off fishing lake trout in the northern part of the state with tip-ups. For a while, chasing flags kept me occupied but it lost its novelty once I had my first taste of panfish. I am now 24 and am one step away from entering rehab for my addiction. Currently, I fish almost 5 full days a week and love every minute of it. I have a degree in Fisheries Biology so my affliction with fish is nothing new and is something that I doubt will ever go away.
My name is Bobby Booth, I also was born in raised in central Vermont. Grew up hunting and fishing and is one of the most important things in my life. I am a high school music teacher by trade but spend most of my free time pan fishing and trying to promote the sport of ice fishing.
Thanks for checking us out. We look forward to entertaining you!