Tag Archives: Lake Champlain

3-6-12 – Working On The Whites

At the beginning of the year I set myself a few goals. Although they weren’t too high of a standard for most, I knew it would be enough of a challenge for me. Being that this is my first full year of fishing panfish, that’s where most of my goals were focused.  The first goal I planned to get after was catching a limit of crappie from the Connecticut River. My other two panfish related goals were to catch a white crappie from Lake Champlain and to catch a fish to mount. I don’t care if it is a bluegill, pumpkinseed, or crappie. My final goal is to catch a legal walleye.

Earlier this season, I had several days that I caught limits of crappie on the river in different spots. Not only was it good to be able to check off one of my goals but I put a few quality meals into the freezer at the same time! I was off to a good start! Until yesterday, I have only had one shot at catching a white.

I got an invite to go fish on southern Lake Champlain. We were going out to target deep water crappie and I that I had a good chance at a white! It wasn’t very hard to convince me to leave home at 3:30am to make the 100 mile trek. I beat the guys I was going to be fishing with for the day by only a few minutes and after packing up the sled and four wheeler we got out to the spot.

It didn’t take long for us to start catching fish but the bite was short lived. With my first hook up only 15 minutes into the day, I was eager to get my hands on my first white. After a few seconds of cranking the fish up what do you suppose it was… A black crappie! Damn! I unhooked and released the fish as it wasn’t very big but after only a few more drops, I snagged into my goal. Although it wasn’t a monster, I had the opportunity to up my personal best.

Throughout the morning, we all caught a few more fish but they were pretty tight lipped. The best bite for me in the morning was on minnows hooked with a size 4 tungsten jig made by Bentley Fishing USA. Even though jig color probably didn’t matter, I stuck with burgundy all day while the other guys used silver and white.

Mid-day, we entertained the idea of packing up and moving to a different location so we could pass the time until the evening bite by jigging up gills, seeds, and maybe some crappie. We decided not to move because there was a shot at a mid day bite. The majority of the fish we caught mid day were bass. Some hogs at that!

After a slow mid day, we were all looking forward to the evening bite! Unfortunately, that time never came on strong. We got some really nice fish but we were just picking at them sporadically all day. I’m glad I got to get out with Jamie and crew for the day. I learned how exciting it is to jig deep water fish on minnows. I can’t wait till the opportunity presents itself again!

Oh and I set my personal best 4 different times. This was my best at 14″.

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3-2-12 to 3-4-12 – A Long Weekend

We have been slacking this weekend at posting but its not for lack of fishing. Bobby and I have fished together the last three days on Lake Champlain and it has been decent.

3-2-12

On Friday, I got out of work mid morning and headed north to pre-fish for the VT Sportsman Tournament on Dillenbeck the following day. On the way, I found out that the bite was pitiful and that everyone was headed south. So I changed my plans and met them around noon. We were able to find fish so we worked them while we could. We punched a lot of holes in every direction and found that the fish were cruising structure at a 4-6′ contour. As the waves of fish came through we caught them but it was almost a guessing game on where to go when they were absent. We were catching decent pumpkinseed, big bluegill, and average crappies. We didn’t stay till dark because the fishing wasn’t that great and the 100 miles drive is better with some light!

3-3-12

Saturday morning, I picked up Bobby at 4:30am and we hit the road. There was a good deal of snow and slush until we got past Middlesex so the drive took a bit longer with my speed handicap put in place by the co-pilot! We ended up arriving around 6:20 so we weren’t late. We caught part of the rules announcements before being released to the ice. Our plan was to head further out than normal in hopes that the fish had pushed out from where they are normally found. The new snow pack and constant pressure from all the guys pre-fishing has a big impact on fish patterns. In general, the fish were pretty skinny everywhere we fished. It started off slow and the theme continued throughout the day but when you got one there were more.

At the end of the day, I only had one one crappie and three decent pumpkinseed/bluegill mix. Bobby’s bag was a different story… He ended up weighing in the largest fish (1.58 pounds) and the heaviest bag (4.73 pounds) of the day! Good turn out for one of us! Maybe when Bobby gets back to having access to a computer he can post up what made him successful.

After hearing Bobby brag about his success the whole way home (JK) it was time for some payback… His wife schemed up a surprise birthday party and he had no idea! My only job was to stall him long enough to delay our arrival to 6pm. That was no problem thanks to Jamie and Scott asking for help picking up. After a few beers it was time to get prepared for the next day of fishing!

3-4-12

We got a late start around 8am today. The weather was nice as the temperature cooled down a bit from the day before and the wind wasn’t whipping too bad. The fishing was another story. Although it wasn’t dead it was tough to find good numbers of fish. We worked north, south, east, and west from the usual starting point and never really found good numbers. One of our buddies struck out on his own and found some nice fish mid day. With a quick phone call and a short ride on the four wheeler we were all on fish. We fished for another two hours before calling it a day around 2pm. We caught some nice bluegill and pumpkinseed and even managed to pull a few decent crappie. Well at least Bobby did. Mine was swimming solo in a bucket of bluegill/pumpkinseed!

Overall, it was a great weekend on the ice. As the season nears its end, it’s getting harder and harder not to spend every minute out there! From day to day and even morning to afternoon, the drive home provides us more and more views of open water. Sad sight! Lucking we have driven the roads up north enough to do it blindfolded…

VT Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series Concludes This Weekend

Alright, so the final leg of the VT Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series is this Saturday, March 3rd, at Dillenbeck Bay on Lake Champlain. There was suppose to be two tournaments remaining but due to deteriorating ice conditions in southern VT, the Larrabees Point stop was cancelled.The ice on Dillenbeck as of Monday was good. There was well over a foot and trucks were driving on and going all over the place. Still not enough ice for me to drive on though! I even declined a ride off the ice in a smaller vehicle!

The bite was decent. We caught loads of bluegills with a few seeds and crappie mixed in. With this strange winter we are having, the fish seem to be ahead of schedule and are staging up in areas more towards their spawning grounds. With the snow we are getting now and the rain that is predicted for Saturday, it’s going to be interesting! Bring your raincoat and a maybe snowshoes!

This weekend, the overall points winner will be crowned as well as a single tournament stop winner. Prizes for the day are given for heaviest weight of 3 crappie and 3 sunfish as well as big fish. Neither Bobby or I have a shot unless there is a significant error in the math skills of the guys that put these great events on; Jamie of Fish Hounds Outdoors and Scott.

For more information on ice conditions and bites in the islands check out: VT Sportsman Forum.

2-29-12 – A Short Day That Ended Too Early

Bobby and I headed for the islands on Lake Champlain this morning. We took our time getting on the ice even with knowing that we had to leave around noon to be back in time for me to get back to work. We pulled into the parking lot at 7:40am and hit the ice. At first, the fishing was slow. We started at the usual spot- no luck. We went shallower- no luck. We went deeper- no luck. Then we started to move side to side and started to find fish.

The majority of the fish we pulled today were bluegill. On average, they were decent sized. It seemed like in most holes we would catch a few keeper sized fish then the small ones would take over. Although we spent a fair amount of time moving around it was pretty easy to tell when a hole was spent and it was time to find a new one. The outer limits of decent fish were pretty well defined. If the first drop yielded a chip you had gone too far.

Both of us did good numbers of fish and a few crappies and larger pumpkinseeds were mixed in. I found that most fish were suspended 2-4 feet below the ice and that they would hit it on the fall most times. I caught one big bass that gave me an exciting battle on a quick tip rod with 3 pound test line. It was 22″ and even though we didn’t have a scale it was well over 5 pounds.

It was a great day to be on Lake Champlain. It’s not every day when you get sun and no wind to fish in up there! Toughest part of the day was that there was a few inches of snow to walk through. I guess it was good preparation for the coming days.

2-27-12 – Yet Another Slow Day On Champlain

We got a late start today but that turned out to be not a bad thing. We were on the water just after 7:30am and quickly punched holes around a few spots that have been producing on Lake Champlain. We were fishing for three hours and only caught a handful of bluegill, pumpkinseed, and two dink crappie. Frustrated, we packed up and headed to a the other side of the bay.

When we got over there, we punched holes and looked around with the Aqua Vu Micro underwater camera. We found lots of perch but only two pumpkinseed. We caught a few of the perch and headed further out in the bay to a different weed bed. The same scenario played out there so we moved yet again. We decided to fish one more weed bed before heading out for the day. By the looks on the flasher there were some fish to be had so we gave it a shot. We caught lots of fish there but they were all small. It was time to call it a day.

Before heading out, we had to meet up with a guy in Burlington. While waiting, we met up with another buddy who got out of work to fish. Somehow, he convinced us to go back to the same spot we just left. This time was a little better but not great still. There were lots of small fish in every hole but towards dark they grew in size and there were some really nice bluegill cruising high in the water column.

No pictures worthy of posting today and overall it was a disappointing day. Luckily, tomorrow is a new opportunity on very productive water! I’ll be there at sunrise to punch holes and find the fish (hopefully) while awaiting my company for the day!

2-22-12 – Squeezed In Another Trip Before Work Today

I fished Lake Champlain today for just over six hours. I got out on the water at 6am and punched all my holes before the sun came up but the fish didn’t start biting until it was light out. The first bunch of fish I caught were all bluegill and then a decent bass. It took a while to catch a crappie and when I did it was a disappointment. At the first spot of the day I caught three total and 2 of the them were short. The one that could have been a keeper was just over 8″. After a while with only a few fish, we decided to pack it up and head south a few bays. This was unfortunate too because you could see them when using the Aqua Vu underwater camera

When we got to the second bay, we headed for where I fished on it the day before. We quickly whacked two crappie then went dry for a bit. Although all of us were pulling fish in most holes the fishing was slow. We kept punching holes and moving around the spot where we had been having luck. Eventually,  we got on a few spots where there were  better numbers of bluegill and pumpkinseed. The majority of what we caught all day weren’t huge but good sized eaters none the less. I had to head out earlier than I usually would to get to work. I was on the road at 1pm and disappointed with my day but it was still great to be out!

I hope that the fishing turns on before all the ice is gone! When I left there was quite a bit of water puddling up on top of the ice but there were people driving full sized trucks out. Should be a while yet (I hope)!

Thought it was going to be a crappie up until it made its first run!

Had a decent hole on a slow day

A decent seed pulled mid day

Two nice fish at the end of the day.

2-21-12 – Windy Day On Champlain

It seems like lately, I have had to fish three spots before I get on a good bite. Fishing on the Connecticut River and local ponds spoils me for when I go to Lake Champlain I think. The Connecticut River is fairly predictable on when and where the fish will bite so not as much time is wasted searching for productive waters. Lake Champlain fish tend to be more mobile and either make a large move bay to bay or a smaller move to a new area fairly regularly. The fish on the river are usually of better quality as well!

On Lake Champlain today, the wind was relentless! Although there were fish there, it was very hard to fish them without some kind of wind break. The first stop of the day was very good a few days ago so we figured we should pop in and check out what has happened since then. After punching a series of holes spread out over a large area, it was time to check with the camera to see what was around. The second hole that I dropped down had a nice sized crappie laying face down right on the bottom. I grabbed my rod and attempted to catch it. Unfortunately, I could not attract that fish or any others for that matter. After seeing only perch and northerns we headed south to fish a nearby bay.

There were a few people already fishing the second bay. At first, the fishing was slow. Only smaller perch were active and it was difficult to find pods of panfish. It took a bit of moving but eventually I was able to pull some fish. The numbers and size weren’t great but it was nice to be catching bluegill and pumpkinseed! The mixture of fish weighed heavily towards bluegill but there was a good deal of pumpkinseed and a few crappie mixed in. After a few hours of slow going, I packed up my gear and got ready to head even further south to hit my final spot for the day.

When I got on the ice it didn’t take long to start catching fish. There were lots of smaller fish but the big fish were there. The majority of the fish I caught were bluegill but most of the other guys were pulling pumpkinseed. I guess I could have moved to a different hole looking for the seeds but I really like trying to catch the light biting bluegill. I fished until 4:45 then decided to call it quits so I could make at least part of my drive home before it got dark.

I used a bunch of different lures made my Bobby today. The color schemes and shapes worked well. Rockers, teardrops, and willows in a wide range of colors from light to dark… It didn’t seem to matter much once they were put near an active fish! Be on the look out for his post on jig making. It will be well worth your time!