Tag Archives: Live Baby Shad

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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7-20-14 – 222

One week after a full moon = go crappie fishing. Everything about this trip seemed right leading up to it. Along with our buddy Mark, we loaded the boat around 8 am with plenty of snacks and drinks and headed back to southern lake Champlain. The theme of the day was “click it” on the counter, which is what we said each time we put a crappie in the boat.

The strategy for today was simple, fish structure.  It took us a little while to get dialed in but once we did it was pretty much non stop catching for the three of us.  While the plastic bite was good, the interesting part of this trip is that we figured out a little way to prolong the bite once the fish become conditioned.  We’ve seen plenty of shows and articles on trolling small crank baits for crappie but we tried our luck at casting them.

After the plastic bite tapered off at each spot, tossing a small crappie crank bait made by Arkie Jigs made the difference.  Being on the small side, we were able to rip the bait right along side and on top of the structure we were set up on with very few, if any snags.  They were also very useful when the fished decided to take a “lap” off the structure which crappie seem to randomly do.  The crank bait allowed us to locate the fish from a greater distance than a jig. While most colors worked, bright plastics and shiny cranks were the best bet.

We finished the day just shy of our goal of 238 with 222 crappie put in the boat and released.  A large majority of those fish being keepers.  It was refreshing to learn something new as it becomes easy to get stuck doing the tried and true over and over again.  Remember, next time you’re out on the try to switch it up every once in a while to put more fish in the boat.








7-16-14 – Early Morning Limit

I was on the water for sunrise because I had to work at 8 pm and I wanted to bring home some fish for the freezer. It looked like it was going to be a beauty of a day and it was the first cool day after a warm stretch. The only thing lingering in my mind was whether or not the cold front would change the bite.

I had my buoy marker in the sweet spot in the dark and was catching fish within only two casts. While not every fish was a keeper, probably every third was. I should mention most of the fish were of legal size though. It took me 82 fish to complete my limit but it didn’t stop there. I spent the rest of the day looking for new spots many of which were loaded with fish.

By 8 am I was throwing back 12″ crappie. Every spot I hit produced similar sized crappie. Nothing huge but some were pushing 14″. I ended up putting another dozen quality spots on my graph for future trips. The fish were hungry but many were biting as soon as my “Live” Baby Shad hit the bottom. Many of the fish I caught actually had mud sticking to their bellies.

With the warm water from the last few days, the fish wanted the jig moving extra slow so mainly I was running a 1/16 ounce jig even when the wind picked up. After a little more than eight hours of catching fish, I headed for home. I ended up the day with 237 crappie on the clicker. Not too bad of a day!





7-13-14 – Mystery Lake

Who doesn’t like exploring a new lake? Well on a hot Sunday that was the plan. Crappie were the target and outside of that, we had no idea what the lake would fish like.

I met my buddy Andy at sunrise and we launched the boat shortly after. We started off scanning the bottom with the side imaging. It is a big lake so exploring seemed like the best idea.

We located several sunken trees that were completely vacant of fish. Then we checked out a rocky shoreline thinking that a “bass” pattern might work. Nope. Just rockbass and lots of them! As we worked off the rocky shoreline, a warden approached us. We had a short chat and he told us that they were there but not many people catch them on purpose. Lakes like this can be great because you will have them to yourself but at the same time locating and staying on them year around is a big chore.

We fished just about every type of habit the lake had to offer and we covered about a third of the lake with side imaging. At the end of the day we had nothing great to show for other than checking of a new species on the bucket list. Redbreast sunfish. We caught a lot of them.

While we didn’t complete out goal, we marked some weedbeds on our Navionics for a potential winter trip.



7-11-14 – Solo Day

Not being able to find anybody to fish with on this particular day, I decided to make an adventure out of it. I made a long drive to fish southern Lake Champlain. Knowing that the moon was full I did not know what to expect while planning on targeting crappie.  One thing was for sure, I was going to stick to one game plan.

My goal for the day was to explore a bit and find some new structure using the side scan.  I was able to find more than expected but was disappointed when most of what looked like fantastic habitat was not holding decent numbers of fish.  I really couldn’t figure out why these spots weren’t holding fish so I decided to check out  few of our spots that have always produced in the past.  As I pulled up to our third reliable spot I was pretty discouraged to find it was fishless.  I had been on the water for almost three hours now and have yet to put a fish in the boat.  By accident I stumbled onto a pattern that put a few fish in the boat.

The full moon has pushed many of the fish holding structure off and they scattered along deep weeds lines.  Wanting to stick to my plan as along as possible, I slowed down my presentation knowing that the fish were going through a transition period and they might be a little fussy.  The bites were hard to detect as I slowly dragged my Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Live” Baby Shad across t bottom adjacent to the structure.  A subtle twitch in the line was the only indicator that I had one on, I really had to pay attention.

All in all not a very productive trip from the fish catching standpoint but I did confirm that when the moon is full, the fish move and you have to slow your presentation down.



6-24-14 – Limit, Nap, And Go

I got on the water early this morning. I wanted to try to beat some of the high winds that were suppose to come through later in the day. Unfortunately, the waves were already over a foot and they weren’t suppose to lighten up at all.

The fishing started off pretty good. I began the day throwing crankbaits along the tall weed edges after my anchor wouldn’t hold. I was drifting roughly in 8-10 feet of water with a pretty good clip moving me along. I was throwing a splattershad “Crappie Crankbait” from Arkie Jigs. They dive 2-6′ depending on line, cast distance, and speed of retrieval. I chose this bait because I was able to dive it down to the weed tops where the crappie were holding. While these seemed to be holding everywhere there was a few spots that had a better size class of fish.

After I had nearly a limit of crappie, I decided to try anchoring up again. After a few attempts I finally got it to bite. Within a few casts, I located them. They preferred the chartreuse glo “Live” Baby Shad Sickle Tail from Lake Fork Trophy Lures. I tried other colors but nothing seemed to work. For the most part, the fish were holding up on the windward size of structure and were holding tight. Every cast that was correctly placed yielded either a fish or a snag.

After only a few hours on the water I had a limit. Because I had been up since 2 am I decided to take a nap. The hour long nap recharged my batteries just fine and made the drive home just a little more enjoyable!



5-12-14 – Sight Fishing Spawning Crappie And Perch

I hit a new body of water today. Not knowing what to expect, I started off using a pattern that worked well for us in this region last year. Basically, I would replicate fishing for smallmouth but with smaller plastics. After launching the boat, the water temperatures looked a tad cold at only 55.5 but I would try none the less.

For quite a while, my smallmouth pattern of fishing humps and large boulder produced nothing but smallmouth. After about two hours of pitiful fishing, I hit a fork in the road. From where my boat sat, it looked like I could stay shallow and keep searching basically what I had been or I could work a quickly dropping shoreline. While I thought the shallow water would be their destination for the day, the deeper water might have more to offer at this point.

As I started drifting the deeper shoreline, I began to see dark silhouettes of fish suspending over 12′ of water. Below them there was a pine tree with a needles still attached. towards the shallower end, hundreds of crappies sat still in every nook and cranny imaginable.

I quickly backed the boat out and got to catching. I found that most of the fish I caught were males but as I started to work deeper the females started to show up. Little by little I pieced together a puzzle that worked well for the next few hours. I had a few spots that were all similar and I could catch them non stop as long as I kept switching colors so they didn’t get too weary. Also the brighter the better. Mostly I used the fireperch color of the “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

While the crappie bite was great, I wanted to explore another new body of water so I packed it up and headed out. Hoping to have similar success, I had scouted aerial photos the night before trying to locate some points of interest. As I made my way to my first way point, the anticipation built.

Things didn’t look good when I arrived as the weeds had not yet shown up and the water was already 66.8. Regardless, I putted around catching good numbers of perch and bass of both large and small variates. Things stayed the same for this and just about every other section of water that I searched. While I can’t complain about numbers and size, the species were not what I desired.

In time, I will find them in these locations because I know that they are there but until then, catching perch and bass will have to do!






5-11-14 – Man They Are Addicting!

Dylan had to work until 4 but we were on our way to the lake within minutes of punching out. Hoping that the crappie would be in some of their spawning locations, rods were rigged and ready to go with brightly colored “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

The bite was on as soon as we started fishing in depths ranging from 4-6 feet of water. While the crappie were being pretty loyal to a few small areas, the bluegill and pumpkinseed were just about everywhere surrounding. Judging by their aggressive bite, their spawn was on as well.

The bite was good for all target species during the day but as the sun started to set the bluegill and pumpkinseed mostly shut off. With the hydro glow lighting up the water surrounding the boat, we picked at the crappie until be packed in for the night.





5-7-14 – Spawning Crappie

I couldn’t get myself out of bed but it didn’t matter in the end. I was on the water around 10:15am and the surface temperature was 55.8. Knowing that these crappie either relate to shoreline stricture or small weed patches in no mans land, I started working the perimeter first. I fished for about an hour and a half without as much as a bite. I was contemplating heading elsewhere .Before heading, I had to check one small section of dark weed patches that produced nothing earlier. The water temperature hadn’t gone up at all but it would only take a few minutes and quite often this is a hot spot.

On my first cast I hooked into a crappie but lost it before the boat. Immediately, I tossed out my second pole to see what a deadstick with worms would produce. While I tried battling the wind for a while using my trolling motor, it was more effective to set out my anchors.

The fish had turned on. I was catching a crappie about every third cast and a bluegill or pumpkinseed just about every cast if I let it soak. The crappie were very spot specific as there is an abundance of these dark patches. I found them to be on only three though.

Most times I work the “Live” Baby Shad from Lake Fork Trophy Lures fast with a popping action under a bobber. Today they wanted it moving slow with about a three second pause between pulls. I tried adjusting the depth of my jig several times but it was a very specific 22″ down. Any deeper or shallower and you caught nothing.

To see these fish in their spawning colors was great. While they would have tasted good they were released to get their business over with. Maybe in another couple of weeks I won’t be so kind!




4-22-14 – Warm Water Is Here

With a slow spring warm up, seeing 55 on the graph was a welcomed surprise. From the trips that we have had in the boat so far this spring, nothing else has matched up or even come close. Even though the water was warm, finding the fish was difficult. We fished every bit of water that we have located fish at and nothing. Not even a bite. Over the course of a few hours, the water warmed only slightly. Not having much for luck, we packed up and headed elsewhere.

Arriving at our destination, we headed towards the shallows working slowly in hoping to stumble on the fish and they moved in. There was not much happening but we kept at it. Eventually, we found some bluegills in 4-5 feet of water. They were not present in numbers but the action was more than welcomed. As we kept tip toeing in shallow, a few crappie were busting at the surface. We sat still for a bit and then got to catching. The fish were skittish in the clear, shallow water we we did our best to minimize movement and sound.

The day wasn’t spectacular but it was good to see things actually heading in the right direction!