Tag Archives: Panfish

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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1-5-16 – And We’re Back!!!

It’s a late start to the winter but we are finally ready for the 2016 ice season here in the Northeast. We apologize that it has been so long since we’ve made a post but we’re back and ready to share our adventures with you all once again! We’ve got new and exciting tips and tricks to share in the months to come.  The last year has been spent chasing new species and expanding our versatility to put fish in hand.  We are still chasing panfish but are focusing on less pressured waters and new techniques. Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for whats to come!

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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…….

 

 

6-1-13 – First Day of June

With a frustrating and unsuccessful turkey season in the books, I decided it was time to get back to the fishing.  The weather in Vermont had been about as predictable as the fishing.  Last Sunday, we hit the water passing snow plows and wearing our Clam Blue Suits. This week we saw record setting temps getting up into the 90’s in some areas of Vermont.  I decided to go and spend a few hours on a  crappie pond to check and see where they were at with the spawn.  The body of water isn’t very big and I was able to cover most of it in a short time.  Last weekend we were experiencing water temps in the upper 50’s to lower 60’s but it was also snowing, on this particular morning, I arrived to a water temp of 71 at 6 am!  What a difference a few days can make.

Being able to start fishing right at the launch I grabbed my bobber rod rigged with a Live Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures and started to make some casts.  My focus for the morning would be the shallows hoping to catch a few fish still in spawning pattern, targeting weed edges and wood.  My first spot and also the most productive in the past was a bust, one small perch was all that I was able to get.  I went to work searching.  I was able to connect on one decent crappie along side a tree, but nothing after that.  I made a big move and headed for the far side of the pond.

The shoreline on this part of the lake was similar in design but the drop off was a little steeper.  I was able to locate a few fish but they were spread out for sure, no concentration.  I would guess that the fish are at the tail end of their spawn with many having already done their business and had slid back into a little deeper water.  All in all it was a good day on the water, any day on the water is a good day!

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4-16-13 – Spring Walleye Run

With most of the ice finally leaving our lakes and ponds, spring fishing is upon us.  In years past, we have focused most of our attention on panfish with the occasional bass trip.  The first Saturday in May brings on the opener of Walleye season but what many may not be aware of is that walleye season never closes on the Connecticut River which leaves us with great opportunities to cash in on some great spring walleye fishing.

As water temperatures  slowly rise, the walleye begin their yearly migration to their spawning grounds. For the river fish, that is usually upstream towards dams, or any other man made “road block”.  It has become a goal of mine to target these fish while waiting for the water to warm up to get after the panfish.  After a small amount of research on google earth, I decided to try a spot that looked like it might hold some fish during this time.  I only had a few hours after work and grab my rod with some jigs and a couple tubs of crawlers.  The spot I was fishing is passable but offers great habitat as well as fast moving water.  Walleye often times during the spring will congregate in these areas and will lay just on the edge of the fast moving current.  Knowing this, my cast was position just along that edge.  It didn’t take long to hook into what felt like a decent sized fish.  Another great thing about fishing the Connecticut River is that you never know what you are going to catch.  This particular fish happened to be the target species. Without a net, I was luckily able to land it along the rock shore to get a handle on it. It turned out to be a nice 24″ walleye.  I globed another crawler on and made the same cast which produced another hook up.  A bigger walleye rolled on the surface and managed to throw the hook as it slid into the current.   After a few more misses on what I think were walleye I managed to land two northern pike and a smallmouth.

There will be more trips to the river for spring walleyes.

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2-14-13 – A Crappie Valentine’s Evening

With a few hours to kill before my wife came home from work, I decided to take a ride in search of a few crappie for dinner.

I arrived to the pond a little before 4 pm and punched 6 holes in the area that usually holds a few decent crappies, perch, and pumpkinseed.  The first hole I fished was the most productive of them all producing many perch and a few seeds.  I fished around those holes for and hour or so without a crappie sighting so I decided to make a small move.  I had found a nice weed flat adjacent to deep water this summer and thought I would punch a few holes on the inside turn.  I cut two holes and dropped the transducer for my Vexilar FL-18 down the hole.  I was met with 12 feet of water, this is usually a little shallower than I thought the crappie would be holding in this pond but I have it a shot.  I usually don’t fish a hole in deep water for crappie unless I’m marking suspended fish, but thinking to myself that I wasn’t really in deep water I should drop my bait down and see what happens.  My bait reached three feet under the ice and I was all of a sudden marking a big red racing up towards it.  I was using a Bentley tungsten jig with Maki Plastics.  The fish literally pounded the bait and out came crappie number one.  The times in the past when I have fished this body of water had been slow but productive.  I had never caught more than one crappie out of a hole and I had never caught more than six in an outing.  Well to make a long story short the next 45 minutes ended up being the best crappie fishing I have ever had in my life in terms of numbers, aggressiveness of the fish, and overall quality.  It was stacked with fish, they were marking from 5 feet all the way down to 12 feet of water, and they were hungry.  At one point my plastic ripped off and I was catching 11 inch crappie on nothing other than the glow jig.   I iced 52 crappie in about 45 minutes of fishing, and that was even with a stop to teach a local about the Vexilar.

It was a fantastic outing, one of best I have experienced.  I hope to get back there for a morning bite to see if the fish are as aggressive as they were that night.  The best part was that I managed a limit for the freezer and still made it home in time to clean fish and await the arrival of my wife.

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2-9-13 – Tail End Nemo

The end of the work week brought the people of the Northeast winter storm Nemo.  Most schools were closed and Boston was bracing themselves for two feet of snow, we went fishing. . .

We arrived to our setback early and found that the snow totals in this area were not as much as home.  Encouraging this was but the long walk down a steep hill and the longer walk back up it killed that excitement.  The plan for the day was to set up a few tip ups in hopes of getting a Walleye to take the bait.  We drilled our holes, our buddy Mark cut some more holes while I set the jacks.  Once we were set up we began jigging for panfish.  Using the electronics we “trolled” around looking for fish.  There was no shortage of fish! (but)  I’ve never, in all my years fishing seen fish so lethargic.  I would pull up to a hole that was literally stacked with fish, 6-7 suspended in the water column.  The fish would either not move, or swim back down and disappear.    This gave me the chance to refine my cadence and try some different things to try and entice these fish into biting.  Two cadences seemed to work better than normal.  The first was to pound, literally pound the jig.  I made my jig violently bouncing through the water column as to almost upset the fish into biting.  These fish seemed to become agitated with my bait as it worked down towards them, often times leading to a strike.  The second pattern that worked well was a slight bounce, which was interesting since the aggressive tactic worked.  There was not happy medium.  It was pound or close to dead-stick that triggered the fish on this day.

We followed the fish as the slowly moved through the channel trying to pick out the aggressive ones.  Mark was able to land a nice Crappie that actually got stuck in the 6-inch iced up hole.

After a few hours and no luck on the flags other than wind flags we made a move into shallower water.  Shortly after re-setting Mark landed this little Northern.

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I was able to find a few fish for the frying pan as we worked thro0ugh the day.  All and all the day was a struggle but we made the best of it.  I did manage to catch this great Bluegill suspended in 20fow.  The fish was at least 10 inches and I would say close to a pound.

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1-26-13 – Cold Day To Be A Crappie

Having been tied up with other responsibilities for the past two weekends and not able to fish I was excited to get back on the ice.  I decided to make a day trip to a spot 2 hours away.  We arrived at our location with decent conditions.  The mercury was finally above zero for the first time in five days, and the wind at this point wasn’t an issue.  I loaded my shack and made the 80 yard walk to where I would be fishing for the day.

I drilled out an area, shallow to deep.  It’s always a good idea to cut your holes first thing, one it will save you time later and two, it will spook the fish only once if the fish are sensitive to sound.  I started fishing the deep hole to begin with.  The vex was marking fish in 16 feet of water all through the water column.  First drop produced a small crappie, second drop, small crappie.  One thing that I have noticed about this spot is that these fish school in relation to size most of the time.  If you’re catching small fish you’re in a nursery school of fish.  I made a move to the next hole working my way out of the deeper water up towards the shallower shelf.  Right off the bat I hooked into a heavier fish, bass.  OK; well now I know the bass are set up waiting for those small crappie to make a mistake, I made another move, this time more drastic.  I found ten feet of water, fish were stacked on the bottom four feet.  First drop was a beautiful 13″ crappie.  Next few fish were all decent in size, bigger than before.  We continued to work the 10 foot range and were able to produce several decent fish through out the course of the next few hours.

As the morning went on the wind picked up and it became difficult to fish outside of our shacks.  As the sun went higher the fish slid shallower.  This is something we have noticed before while fishing setbacks off the main river.  The fish tend to seek out more cover even if it means going shallower when deep holes are present.  Large weed flats are great places to find active fish during high light conditions.  Another important thing to note was that the fish were not tolerating a presentation for long.  I was constantly changing my jigging cadence and my Maki Plastic to keep the fish interested.  These plastics teamed with a Bentley gold colored tungsten jig worked well for both the deep and shallow water applications we used today.

All in all it was a good day, unfortunately I wasn’t able to “fish” the way I wanted to as was confined to my shack for comfort.  It was a good day learning a few new tricks and applying some older ones to be successful.

1-6-13 – Crowded Day On The River

We’ve all had the days when we arrive at our favorite fishing spot and realize that we have it all to ourselves, on this day that wouldn’t be the case.  We arrived at one of our favorite spots greeted by calm skies with little to no breeze and temps in the 20’s, perfect day to be on the ice.  Unfortunately, the recent cold temperatures had given the tip up fishermen enough confidence to haul out the hard sides and set up shop for the season.  A few members of our group were able to arrive at day break and punched out an area as a way of “claiming” a spot.

The morning bite was hot, everything was right, the water was coming in, we had overcast skies, fish were active.  We spent the first couple of hours chasing the school’s of pumpkinseed, bluegill, and crappie along the edge of the main channel adjacent to the thickest weed line.   Early ice at it’s best however;  Early ice also means everybody and their brother is itching to get out.  The amount of tip ups in the ice was off the charts.  This is not a big setback and every inch of the channel was spoken for.  We were not able to fish our spots the way we normally would have.

A lot of people also brought on another dilemma.  Noise.  Once the morning had gone and the activity picked up we noticed that the fish were gone, well at least we thought so, we actually ended up learning a lot about this particular spot on this day.  We found that instead of running to deeper water when levels dropped and noise picked up, that the fish actually moved shallow and found the thickest weed patches to surround themselves with.  This made it a little more difficult using the electronic but we were able to pull some nice bluegill and pumpkinseed out of the thickest weeds while the sun was at it’s peek.  Fortunately for us the fish stayed close and slid only 20-30 yards away from the “area” we had settled in.

As the sun got lower in the ski and the commotion let down, we noticed that the fish slowly worked themselves out of the weeds and back towards the edge of the channel.  The fishing was fast times, chasing the feeding fish up and down the banks. Moving to stay on fresh and active fish, the rest of the night stayed successful with a stead increase towards dark.

The bite for the last 45 minutes consisted of mainly bluegill and crappie; favoring more heavily towards crappie. As we worked through the rows of holes we found that the fish were attacking our jigs as they worked down the water column. Anywhere for 2-5′ below the ice was stacked with crappie and occasionally a bluegill as you neared the weed edge. It was the time when we could do no wrong. The fish weren’t pick as long as it was moving.

A run like that was the best possible way to end a nice long day on the ice!

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8-24-12 – Trout And Panfish

A Friday off from work means a day of fishing. Being that I didn’t feel like heading to camp for bass fishing, I went to fish for trout and panfish. I fished a tributary to the Connecticut River for trout and in the Connecticut River for panfish. The day was hot but not too humid so the fishing was enjoyable. Check out Trout And Panfish on our YouTube page.

I first stopped off to fish a cold water trout stream high up near the headwaters. As I approached the stretch that I desired to fish, I saw a pool that looked like it was just stocked. The best part is that this stream hasn’t been stocked with trout for years. The big pool at the confluence of two smaller brooks was deep and clear and I could count well over 15 adult fish.

As I made my first cast, one of the larger brookies came up and smashed a fly only feet from me. I knew it was going to be good! I caught 11 trout and lost double that before calling it quits and heading to fish for panfish. The fishing for me was frustrating because I had forgot my brook fishing tackle. I had no weight on my line so I was not able to get down into the depths of the pool where the fish were holding. My best option, which worked decent was to fish a small 1/16 ounce panfish jig right on the bottom. I caught several fish using this method and was satisfied.

With a decent morning of fishing for trout, I was disappointed on the main Connecticut River when I was chasing panfish. Although I caught some rockbass and bluegill, the bite was slow. I worked hard for the two dozen fish I caught and none were that large. Dark colors were the best as the water was clear and high.

I found that the fish were holding very tight to structure or right on the bottom. I started off like I usually would by suspending a jig around 18″ below a pencil bobber. I caught no fish in the main channel at first but as I started to work close to the shore, I started to find fish as well as a large number of snags in the fallen brush. After losing more jigs than the number of fish I caught, I decided to switch up my thought process. I dropped my jig down to a little over 3 feet knowing how deep the water was from past trips. I found that the fish were holding in the deepest water available in the section of slack water. As I worked my presentation through the water column I started catching better fish but nothing with great size. I fished till about noon before heading home to get ready for work in the evening.