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!
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.
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.
Saturday Febuary 8th brought us to round 3 of the Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tounament Series at Mallets Bay on Lake Champlain. Conditions weren’t ideal at all, with temps in the teens and a wind chill around zero. Besides the weather, the bay was going to present it’s own challenges. The portion of Mallets Bay where this event was held, had ample room for fishermen to move around and fish plenty of water, but the fish seemed to be located on one particular weed bed which meant the fishing was going to be close quarters.
At 6 am, we were given the go ahead to start drilling holes and use our electronics but no lines in the water until 6:30. Most of the 36 fishermen all headed for that one weed bed and started drilling their holes. In hind sight, I think we drilled all the fish out of that area, as we started fishing the action was slow. Those that made slight adjustments in location were able to stumble upon the larger groups of fish that had been drilled out at first light. Dylan made a slight but significant move east and was able to connect on nice crappie that ultimately won him big fish for the day. Funny part was it was the same hole that his crappie came from yesterday! The bite was tough to say the least for the better part of the day. The fish were scattered and easily spooked when we would punch a few new holes.
Towards the end of the day, Dylan figured out that the crappie were suspending about half way down the water column and they were cruising, which means you didn’t always mark them on your electronics. Jigging at four feet would often bring a cruising crappie in and make them bite. This was a major adjustment made, as we had been fishing in the weeds for the better part of the event.
At the weigh-in Dylan checked in his 6 fish limit with two seeds, two crappie, one bluegill, and a perch giving him a weight of 3.68 pounds and good enough for first place along with his big fish prize. Bobby struggled all day to say the least not catching any crappies and weighing in a limit of seeds and dink perch for a weight of 1.78 lbs. At the end of the day, the win for Dylan was a major boost in the points moving him up to first place from 6th. Bobby’s weight caused his to drop a few positions down to 6th from third but he’s still in the hunt. The final points event for the season will take place at Laphams Bay in Shoreham on Febuary 22nd. It’s going to be a shoot out!
With hopes of crappie, a buddy and I got on the ice early. Although we found 0 crappie on new water, we ended up salvaging the day with some perch.
We checked 4 bays throughout the course of the day and the bite was beyond tough. Nothing but dink perch seemed to want to bite anywhere. Fortunately, the bite for deep water perch recently has been decent. The perch came off a gradual 35-50 foot slope. So that I could release smaller fish, I tried to determine immediately after hook up whether they were big enough to keep. Coming out of such deep water, their air bladders were popping easily.
Using the truck as a wind break was almost necessary today due to the heavy winds. It was a wild one! Each move we made seemed to produce large perch immediately and from there the size dropped significantly with decent keepers in the mix. We can a drop shot rig with fatheads. Plastics didn’t seem to do much and maggots only caught the smallest fish.
I spent the day looking for fish that would help out in tomorrows tournament on Dillenbeck Bay on Lake Champlain. It was tough finding fish and the wind didn’t help. Throughout the course of the day, I punched holes throughout much of the bay. I ended up finding perch just about everywhere, three spots with pumpkinseed, and not a single trace of crappie. While I only fished a few of the holes, the fish seemed very willing to bite.
Feeling content with the fish that I had found, I packed up my car to hit a spot closer to home. I fished until dark pulling pumpkinseed and dink perch. Tomorrow is the first tournament of the winter!
With poor fishing reports from many places on Lake Champlain, we made a trip to check for ourselves. We were on the water around 8 am and checked some of the normal areas that produce. With a strong breeze blowing, detecting bites was very tough. Right off, we located fish. The first fish was a small bluegill, the second fish was a small perch, and the third fish was a decent crappie. Not a bad start to the day. After that, the wind picked up even more fishing became very difficult.
We decided to make a move to a section of the bay that would be a bit more sheltered from the wind. The move proved effective for both less wind and more fish. For the remainder of the day, we hole hopped trying to stay on a decent bite. The fish seemed to be moving in a linear pattern with different size class schools cruising through. As dark grew closer, the fish vanished all together. With the cold setting in and a slight switch in wind direction, we lost motivation to stick it out until dark.
While it wasn’t the best day on Champlain, it certainly wasn’t as poor as everyone had been saying. Sometimes just a day can make that much of a difference!