Tag Archives: Lake Champlain

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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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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2-28-15 – Some More Lake Trout Action

I hooked up with a few buddies for a morning lake trout bite on Champlain. It was much calmer than the last trip and the temperature was going to be warmer.

During our last trip, the jigging action was good as soon as we started after setting up a few tip ups. We figured that things would only be better if we started right at sun up! We were slightly wrong. While we marked fish, they were far less aggressive than the time frame between 8-10.

I hooked up with 3 other fish before finally landing one. For some reason they are very good at popping out treble hooks at the hole! The large slender spoons were the ticket once again!

We mainly stayed set up in 25 feet of water but we tried bouncing around out in deeper water for a while when the fish disappeared. The fishing wasn’t any better so we packed things and made way for home. I had a fishing date, night bite planned with Mary!

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2-21-15 – Sight Fishing Lake Trout

I met up before sunrise with a few buddies in search of lake trout. We trekked nearly a mile to an offshore reef where we hoped they would be.Trying to get the layout, we cut holes over a large area checking depths as we went. As we moved around, we set out a few tip ups in hopes that we could better our odds of a few hook sets.

Once we had a small spread of traps out, the high winds drove us into shacks. Within 5 minutes, I hooked up with the first fish of the day. It was on a large jigging rap and I have never had much landing fish with them. I always lose them during the fight or hook the side of the holes with either end of the bait. While I was disappointed, It was nice to know we were in the right area.

After a short while, I switched tactics and put on a Slender Spoon. The flutter drew fish in well over the course of the next few hours I saw quite a few more fish and hooked up with 3 more. Still, I was unsuccessful with landing fish but I did get several into the hole.

It was a fun day and we toughed out the wind as long as possible. Around 3:30 the snow really started to pick up so we decided gathering up out gear and heading home before the roads got much worse was the best plan.

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1-10-15 – First Day On Champlain

Champlain can be a tough place to stay motivated but its a great place to hone in your hook setting skills when you find the fish. With the fish constantly moving being able to get on them can be quite the chore. We mainly fish the islands for the giant pumpkinseed that roam the shallow weedbeds but on this trip they were no where to be found.

The day started well before sunrise and with holes cut, we started hopping around trying to find a hot hole. I was on the ice with my buddy Andy and his two younger brothers. It seemed that the entire area that we shredded held fish you just had to sort through a ton of smaller ones. The ratio seemed to be 1 keeper for every 5 fish caught. There were also a ton of bass and pike around!

As we fished in circles, the fishing never picked up or slowed down. It was constant catching all day. Every once in a while you would you could get in a hole and pop a bunch of fish with decent size but that was rare. The biggest trick to the day was to stay high in the water column. While the crappie bite was lacking, the larger gills seemed to cruise above the smaller ones.

As things started to wind down for the day we had iced some nice fish and got some good pictures. The wind had blown all day and our faces and hands were beyond ready for a break from the cold!

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7-23-14 – Lake Trout On Down Riggers

I went out with Captain Dan on the Lazy D & Me today with hopes of some lake trout. A wicked storm was rolling in after noon so we hoped things would happen early. With about 85 feet of water below us and plenty of fish laying right on bottom things were looking good.

Things started off pretty rough and only calmed down a little as the morning wore on. Most of out fish were caught on flatfish slow rolling the bottom around 1.8 mph. We managed to go 12 for 13 in the 5 hours we were out with several fish right around the 30″ mark.

The sky was hazy all day but we knew it was time to head home when the wind really picked up and started tossing the boat around enough to make fishing difficult.

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3-29-14 – Getting Near The End

With a late winter storm hitting the area for the second half of the weekend I decided to journey to a bay I had only fished once this season with hopes that the crappie and sunnies had gathered for their pre-spawn ritual.  I picked my buddy up and we headed out no knowing what to expect.  The weather has finally broke out of it’s freezing cold spell which it seemed like we were in all winter and I knew it was only a matter of time that things started to heat up, no pun intended.

We arrived to the bay and was greeted by a good friend that had been fishing for a few hours already and the prognosis didn’t look good.  The fish seemed to be scattered, being a large bay we had our work cut out for us.  After talking with my buddy we made our way to one of my waypoints and began to drill.  After working through the first series of holes and only managing four keeper perch and a bass we headed to another waypoint in hopes to find a few more fish.  As we were getting close I realized that my mark was smack dab in the middle of about 30 tip-ups.  I approached the fellow fishermen and asked if they minded if I fished around their set-up, like most Vermonters they didn’t mind and after a few short stories I began to drill the area out.  With a lot of time left in the day I had decided that if we didn’t stumble upon the fish quick we were going to make a big move down to a bay that I had fished a few more times this season.  I worked this set of holes without marking a fish, I knew this fish were around but time is everything when you don’t have a lot of it, especially to fish so we packed up and headed out.

The second stop would prove to be worth the trip.  We met a few buddies out there who had found some fish, all the credit goes to these guys.  The area was all drilled out so we had our greeting and got to work.  The crappie had moved into the area within the past few weeks and they were thick.  I have actually never seen it like this in this bay.  This particular bay had very thick weeds at the beginning of the ice season, they had now died of for the most part and the fish were cruising the tops of them, and when I say cruising, I mean cruising.  The fish were on the move and it was to our advantage to have a few of us there to stay with them.  The good bite lasted for a solid hour or so and then turned into a slow pick.  It was a great time with good friends and as it would turn out, a great way to end my season on the ice.  It was time to head home, pack the ice gear away, and get tied up for spring walleye and crappie, till next time…….

 

 

3-30-14 – White Perch All Day

In general, white perch provide us with nothing but frustration. For this day, trying something new meant pounding on white perch for about half of our time on the water. They had been biting good all winter but with other bites and species occupying our time, getting after something different was appealing.

The weather was less than ideal. Throughout the day, we got plastered by rain, snow, and sleet. Wind too! The day was a rough one but in the end it paid off.

Getting on the water around 8:30, it took about 2 hours to consistently get on fish. After finding fish, the bite was good for close to an hour. Getting up and down quickly was very important to keeping the fish interested and not moving on. The main bait choices for the day were minnow tails and maggots. The maggots were about as nasty as could be without being hard but they worked. Also, we tried eyes, plastics, and small fillets of fish unsuccessfully.

After the first run of fish, they disappeared. Over the next hour we picked and poked at fish moving out towards deeper water. After a slow hour, we hit them again. For the remainder of the day, one hole provided action as quick as the jig could get back down. After two hours of steady catching, all minnows and usable maggots were gone so it was time to pack up and head home. Nothing wrong with running out of bait by 3!

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2-22-14 – Final Leg Of VSHTS

The final leg of the VSHTS was today at Laphams Bay on southern Lake Champlain.  Today was about the points championship and Dylan had a slight lead over the rest of the field. He was feeling the pressure for sure.  Reports of fish in the area were encouraging for the field of 38. You could find fish throughout the bay scattered but the fishermen seemed to focus in on two key areas.   It was sure to be a shootout in close quarters.

Walking conditions were difficult for us short legged people at the start as we made our way out to our fishing spots.  The plan for the day was to set up shop in our Clam shacks and see what we could do sight fishing.  The water to start was fairly clear, and fishing 5 feet of water or less seemed to be the go to method for most anglers.  Bobby’s first drop of the day produced a short black crappie but that was pretty much it.

Dylan made a major move to an area he had pre-fished the day before while Bobby stayed put and cut a few more holes working back towards the launch.  With Dylan’s move he also changed his game plan for the most part.  He decided to fish outside of his shack in hopes of fishing a few more holes searching out the aggressive fish.  By 10 am Dylan had connected on a decent limit and was now looking to upgrade, Bobby on the other had was struggling again yet to catch a keeper crappie.  By the end of the day however Bobby was able to put two decent crappie, a perch and three gills in his bucket for the weigh in.  From what we had heard it was going to be close at the weigh in in terms of the points.  Close was an understatement, Dylan was able to hold onto his lead and edge out first place by three one hundredths of an pound.  This solidified Dylan’s points chanpionship for the 2014 VSHTS! Way to go Dylan.  Bobby was able to have a decent season as he came in 8th place in total points for the four events.  Can’t wait for next season.

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2-10-14 – Where Is Everyone?

I made a long trek to fish a bay that I have very little experience with. Although it was a Monday, it isn’t everyday on Lake Champlain that you have an entire bay to yourself. At first, I figured there was a reason no one was there but in general I have a hard time believing people who say the fishing is poor.

Using Navionics, I made my way along a 5 foot contour punching out to 6 feet and as shallow as 3. I was catching fish right along but very few crappie were in the mix. After working about a half mile, I turned around and paralleled my original line working slightly deeper. Still not finding much for crappie action, I was content with jumbo perch and plenty of sunnies and bluegills.

Halfway back to my car, I got stuck in a whiteout. In a small sandy area with no weeds, I started catching crappie. When the snow let up the crappie shut off. Looking for similar areas, I was able to put 18 crappie on the ice before I left.

A successful scouting mission is always a confidence booster.

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