Tag Archives: Navionics

1-11-15 – Back To Learning

After a semi successful first trip chasing walleye, we decided to take another stab at it. We decided to fish the exact same body of water, same reef, same everything. This time however we were able to get set up a little sooner in the day since we had updated our GPS location on our Navionics app from the previous trip.

Our 21 lines were set and baited by the time the sun peeked over the hills. Our expectations were high and we felt confident the action would be fast right off the bat. Well, we were wrong for the most part. Just after getting set up our first flag fired and we were able to land a nice fat walleye just under the legal length. We were off to a great start, however, from there we went a few hours without getting another flag and quickly became a little discouraged.

One thing that we’ve learned over the years of trying new spots and new techniques is not give up. Being discouraged is tough to handle but can be a good thing to experience as long as you use it to figure out what you might be doing wrong. Something had to be different so the conversation was started as to why the fish weren’t acting the same as they did the week before. We soon came to two major differences.

Walleye, and their feeding habits can be severely altered by the moon phase. This trip was right between full moons while the week before we were directly following a full moon. Walleye love to feed during a full moon, a “no moon”, and for the three days or so on either side. We were in limbo with this trip, well after the full moon and enough before the “no moon” phase that the fish weren’t super active. The fish still bit but not as consistent as the week prior.

Another important detail that we determined was a factor was the pressure. Now I know when you hear pressure you automatically think barometric pressure. We’re talking about fishing pressure, and not even so much the number of people on the ice but the amount of noise top side really seemed to impact these fish. The first trip we had flags go up and barely spool out any line. Often times this is a sign that we surely had a walleye. Makes sense now. On the first trip, we were the only people fishing, noise was minimal, fish were relaxed and feeding.  The second trip consisted of 14 plus fishermen in the area we were fishing and two of the groups were using ATV’s to check their lines. What tipped us off to this was this time when a flagged tripped the spool was burning. The fish were spooky from the noise, they were still feeding but they didn’t sit under the hole to eat the bait. They were on the run once they got the bait.

Walleye are very sensitive to noise and the phase of the moon! Remember that next time you target them and hopefully you’ll be able to put a few more on the ice.

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1-2-15 – New Year, New Adventure

As a new year started, we decided to embark on a new adventure.  As outdoorsmen, the two of us are constantly trying to learn and expand our knowledge.  For a few years now we have been talking about Walleye.  We’ve done our work in the spring, summer, and fall months to consistently locate decent numbers of fish but have yet to dial them in the through the ice.

The first body of water we hit was one that we spent some time on with a buddy who knows how to catch walleye. Through several trips we located located humps, deep holes and other subtleties that might hold fish come ice-up. With that knowledge and a few tips from our local walleye “professor”, we plotted a course for an early morning walleye bite.  Arriving to the water well before daylight, darkness and excitement filled the air.

If you haven’t looked into the Navionics app for your mobile device you should.  By using this app we were able to input coordinates which would take us directly to a small hump/ledge as our destination.  We drilled holes surrounding the structure hoping to catch fish as they slid up down and around the structure to feed.  Our presentation was nothing special.  We used tip ups with large shiners staggered in depth within a few feet of the bottom.  We set from 11 feet of water out into the mid 20’s hoping to cover as much water and as many walleye locations as possible.

We were maybe halfway through our set as the first flag went off.  After a brief struggle, the first fish head of the new year filled the hole and Dylan was holding a beautiful 21 inch chunky walleye.  Getting that first fish on the ice sure did feel good.  Something totally new to us and we didn’t even have lines in the water for 10 minutes! While still celebrating the success, Bobby and a close friend of D&B Mark, both landed a nice walleye each within 15 minutes of Dylan icing the first.  Boy it sure was shaping up to be a good day!

As the day progressed the fish seemed to slide into the deeper water as did our baits! The majority of our morning flags came between 15-20 while mid day flags were mainly between 22-28 FOW. The bite slowed as the day wore on but we were having action just about ever half hour minus the constant pestering from the perch.

Around 1, we had to start heading home as we had run out of bait and were pulling unbaited traps from their holes. We released a bunch of nice walleye and took home some slabber perch. It was a great start to the new year and I’d say we have the confidence to run this pattern elsewhere that we explored this past summer!

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5-24-12 – Crappie Infestation?

We found a local pond this winter that was holding some crappies.  This was a big deal for us since our closest place to catch some crappies was a minimum of an hour driving time one way.  This is a small pond with an abundance of bass, perch, pumkinseed  and pickerel and apparently now crappie.

I was met with a strong west wind yesterday when I arrived at the launch.  This would be my second trip out this week so I was still learning the pond, my Navionics app on my phone was a big help.  I highly encourage anyone who spends time on the water or the ice that has a smartphone to look into it.  It’s very affordable and will maximize your fishing time.  Areas that I was looking for where the deep holes, sharp breaks and flats with structure (in this ponds case fallen trees and weeds) close to the deep holes and and breaks.

The surface temp in Vermont has shot up quickly in the past two weeks.  Yesterday I had a 70 degree reading.  I knew that this meant most of the crappies had already spawned so I focused on the areas I mentioned before in hopes of finding them post spawn.  Using my Navionics app  noticed that the north shore of the pond had a very sharp break into 28 feet of water so I headed there.

The techniques was simple, I was set up with a Bobby Garland baby shad under a bobber using my 9′ Riversider ultralight rod.  I worked the bait shallow to deep cruising the shoreline with my trolling motor on a speed of one until I got a bite.  I would stop when there was structure in the water and work the area more.  I was very pleased to find that many of the trees blown down on the shore line actually extended out a ways into deep water.  Many of them extended as far out as 15 feet of water which in a crappie fisherman’s eyes is an ideal depth to find  crappie holding on structure.  Most of the fish that I caught here in the 6-10′ range with hard structure.

I was a little discouraged to catch over 40 crappies in my two trips and not one of  keeper quality, ok well maybe one was of the legal 8″ inch size.  I guess that’s good news for a couple years down the road.  I was also able to hook into a few bass, one an acrobat, and way too many pickerel.  Click on this link to see a GoPro video of a crappie being caught.

4-14-12 – A Blue Bird Saturday

After doing some house hold chores that had been building up since the end of ice season I pulled my boat up to Lake Champlain on Saturday morning. Weather at departure was overcast skies and temps in the low 40’s.  The plan was to be meeting up with some of the boys from VT Sportsman and see if we could put some crappie in the boat. Arrived at the launch at 9 and managed to get the boat in and only get a little bit of water in my boots. I arrived at my spot to find only one other boat there and one person fishing from shore, luckily I was good friends with the shore fishermen and knew who the boys in the boat were.  I pulled in, dropped my anchor and made a cast, nothing.  The boys in the boat were pulling fish left and right so I did my best to re-position ethically to a spot where I could reach the fish.  The fish were on fire for the first hour, however the bait that they really wanted was a Bobby Garland baby shad in Black Bubblegum.

The fish were schooled up pretty hard and with the right cast you would get bit every cast.  Most crappies in the morning were all worthy of the cooler and I did see many nice fish (12″) being caught.

As the day went on we were joined by many more people who knew that the bites was on.  The overcast day turned into a blue bird day.  I don’t mind other people fishing around me, but I was constantly being blocked off with my casts by another fishermen.  Not very ethical in my mind. So me being who I am decided that I would leave fish to get away from the crowd, not a great idea.  I fished nearby in some areas that had the same structure as the one where we were getting fish but only found small perch.  So, I made my way back and set up in  a different spot.  By this time the bite was slowing considerably and the fish were spread out making things much more difficult.   The water temp was only 45 degrees, I think these fish were here because the bait was there. I did however check on my Navionics app and noticed that this part of the way was actually an inside turn, and the exact spot that the fish were in was the turn itself.

The crappies stopped biting and the bluegill came in, which is probably the reason why the crappies vacated the area.  I switched up my baits to a small Mister Twister Tail in a motor oil color and managed to boat some really nice bluegill and pumpkinseed.  Ended the day with a dozen crappies and 24 nice bluegill and pumpkinseed. Wish I would have been there at daylight!

Searching For Ice Out Crappies

So the end of the ice season has come for most of us, and for many areas in the country the search for pre spawn and spawning crappies has already come and gone.  Here in the northeast, ice out on our lakes and ponds usually happens towards the end of March to mid April.  With ice out, surface temps rise and the crappie start thinking about the next life cycle; the spawn.  Crappie typically spawn in shallow sheltered water.  Small cuts or setbacks off the main lakes are great places to look.  These spots may not be fishable in the summer though.  They have enough fishable water in the spring due to run off and rising water levels on the lake.  At this point, the water levels flood shoreline brush making ideal spots for giant crappies to lay up in and spawn.  I have caught fish in as little as 6″ of water.  Ideal depths to look for are flats in the 4′-6′ range.  Shelter and cover are key components to be mindful of.  Crappie are lazy, they will look for the warmest water closest to their deep winter basin’s and weed flats.  Brush and other structure also create great habitat for spawning and are sheltered from the wind and spring time chop on the lake.

Pay very close attention to the surface temp.  Crappies will start searching for spawning locations when the water starts to consistently hold in the low to mid 40’s, however they won’t actually start to spawn until it reaches the 60’s but it’s not unusual to see them spawning in the upper 50’s.  One degree in temperature change  can make all the difference in the world. Creeks and culverts flowing into the main lake are also great areas to be aware of.  The afternoon bite is typically better since the daytime air temps have warmed the water up.  Run-off water is warmer than the main lake temp creating another hot spot for ice out crappies.  We use our Navionics to find cut backs and flowages on the lake when in search mode.  Once we find them, we cast small jigs tipped with minnow under a bobber or a small micro plastics by Maki Plastics.  Cast to the brush and pop the bobber back in.

My spring time Crappie Fishing setup consists of a 7′-9′ noodle rod.  I like the 7′ Eagle Claw and the 9′ Ultra Lite  Rod made by Riversider.  For shallow water I like to use the fixed Thill bobber made by Lindy.  Under that I am usually running tungsten jigs from Bentley.

Good luck out there searching, the fishing is going to get good real soon!

Cut Back Spring Crappies from Lake Champlain

Searched out River Crappie

3-3-12 – The Weather Made The Day

So as you have seen in earlier posts, I had a pretty decent day at the VT Sportsman last tourney held at Dillenbech Bay on Lake Champlain in Alburg,VT last Saturday.  There was certainly a lot of luck that lead to me to my final weight but some other things conveniently fell into place.

To begin, the weather was the worst I have ever fished in.  The temps weren’t bad but the wind was a steady 25mph at the get go and was gusting up to 55mph.  Like most of these tournaments, I was going to have to spend a lot of my time inside my Clam Shack.  I pre-fished the day before and found that the fish were not in the locations that they normally were in this bay.  They had been the week before but the recent snowfall cover on the ice had pushed them elsewhere.  It was up to Dylan and I to find that new location.  I had a feeling that the school had pushed out into deeper water.  We set out a little after six and walked right by the crowd which was right where we always fished and out to deeper water.

As soon as I picked my auger up out of my sled the wind literally tossed my shack up side down and dumped all of it’s contents, the wind was blowing!  That’s a 50lb shack empty.  We cut holes and fished.  The first hour was slow, I managed to catch a few bluegill to put in the bucket but no crappie.  I decided that I was going to work south towards a rather larger inside turn that I saw on my Navionics. I cut a line of holes and at the end I caught a 10″ crappie.  I punched more holes and brought Dylan and our buddy Mark over.  At this point I was fishing out in the wind.

In order to detect bites better I had switched jigs and tied on a HT Tungsten glow and chartreuse tipped with maggots.  This added weight helped to keep my line tight in the hole and allowed me to feel the bites even with the wind gusting up to 55pmh.  This was the first move that the weather caused me to make that would prove successful.

Enough was enough, a fellow fishermen said he had been getting fish sight fishing, dead sticking minnows. So into my shack I went to see what was going on.  Truth be told, the Crappie were coming in right under the ice, anywhere between 6″-2.5 feet down.  The minnows however seemed to scare them.  I cut more holes and sight fished but had no hook ups. Finally, at about 10am the wind died and it started raining, more reason to stay in your shack right? Nope, not me, I got out of my shack with a feeling that this pressure change was going to turn the fish on.  I grabbed my rod with my Tungsten jig and thought about plastics. Maki Plastics makes great baits.  I’ve used a lot of his smaller profile baits this year but never really tried any of his bigger stuff.  I open my bag and dug through what I had.  I heard a voice in my head, the Voice of Jamie Vladyka, ” white is the Champlain color man”.   I pulled out a white bait that was probably 2-3″ long, looked like a worm with a devil tail, the Spiiki.

This bait was poison to the crappies for the rest of the day.  By now the cat was out of the bag and fellow fishermen were quickly moving in to our location.  It was hard to hide scooping a 12″ crappie that was too big to lift out of the hole, oh well that’s tournament fishing for ya.

The weather caused me to do two things that proved to be key today, one tie on a heavy jig, and two, rain and pressure change forced me OUT of my shack and the fished turned on.  I ended the day with a 4.73 bag of 6 fish and the big fish of the day weighing in at 1.58lbs.  A good day for sure!

2-14-12 – A Slow Day On Champlain

Headed south on Lake Champlain first thing this morning. I had never been to the area before but was planning to meet up with some buddies. I used Navionics on my phone to put myself on a 6-7′ depth contour and started to get set up for the day. After punching a bunch of holes and going around with my Aqua Vu camera I only saw two fish… Great start right? Right… Luckily, I got company shortly after! We fished through the bay and found nothing promising so we packed it up and headed a few bays north.

When we got to the next bay, we quickly started catching fish. Unfortunately, the majority of the fish we caught were very small. We did find a few slab perch and I managed to catch the smallest bluegill I have ever hooked! I couldn’t take a picture of it because it was so small… Just kidding. I didn’t want to take the time because I had more fish on the screen! Just a few drops later I caught the smallest pumpkinseed I have ever caught! Needless to say, we didn’t stick around there too long. Once again, we packed up but this time drove a little over an hour north.

The third and final stop of the day proved to be the most productive. We fished it until it was almost dark then left because the bite quickly slowed. At this spot, we caught some really nice pumpkinseed. Fishing shallower water we caught bluegill. On my very last drop of the night I caught an 8″ crappie.

Overall, it was a good day. I fished two spots that I had never been to before. I will be heading back to where I finished out the night to make an attempt at sight fishing crappies at daybreak! Stay tuned!