Anyone that enjoys the outdoors knows the importance of lending a helping hand to expose people to the world around them. Both of us, along with several of our buddies, had the opportunity to assist Vermont Fish & Wildlife at their “Free Ice Fishing Day” kids clinic that was held at Lake Elmore. We were excited for the opportunity and were on the ice around daylight to help set up for the event.
After setting up numerous stations, we got the augers running and began punching holes for the jigging and tip up demos. As the 10am start time approached, everyone involved put the finishing touches on their stations and we all got a rundown on how things were expected to work.
Our station took a while for much traffic to show up as the anglers needed to visit several stations before grabbing a rod to attempt to catch their own fish. Once people started coming, it took a little over 4 hours before things began to slow down!
One of the most best parts of the day was seeing that even though it was a kids clinic, many adults were were just as involved with trying to learn how to fish. We had groups from as far as Connecticut come for the experience!
As for the quality of fishing, it was tough catching fish that were big enough to cook up at the fish frying station. We only caught a few keeper perch and one pike all day. Fortunately, the numbers of smaller perch were very high and most participants were able to catch at least a fish or two.
Weather-wise, it was a beautiful day and being part of a well run ice fishing event made us feel very fortunate. We can’t wait to help with future events!
I pulled my shack up to my desired first hole still in the dark with hopes of some healthy Champlain panfish. I cut a few holes so that I could hop to when the action slowed up but with the severe cold I planned on spending the majority of my day in the warmth of my shack!
After cleaning my hole, igniting my heater, and baiting up my jig, I dropped down. Immediately I was greeted with the red glow of a fish rising from the weeds on my Vexilar. I was hooked up with my first crappie of the day! Nothing to complain about with with a 12″ crappie on the first drop!
From there, the fishing never slowed. There was an abundance of various sized gills. The crappie were around but with the concentration of gills, they didn’t stand a chance! I could have sat in one hole all day but it is very hard for me to be content when I know that there are better fish nearby.
I cut in all different directions and used my underwater camera to search for a hole with a better concentration of crappie. When I found what I was looking for I shacked up and started fishing. The crappie were happy to bite and after putting about a dozen topside I hooked into something significantly larger.
The battle pursued for several minutes with multiple long runs. I was happy to finally see the head of the 30″+ pike poking out of my now cloudy hole. It was cool to land a nice pike on 2 pound test but I was bummed that the hole was no longer fishable. I had just about every weed within 15 yards laying in top of the ice!
Shortly after, I found another concentration of fish and shacked up for the remainder of the day. I packed things up for the day around 4 and headed for home. A long day on the ice put a few nice meals on the table!
Champlain can be a tough place to stay motivated but its a great place to hone in your hook setting skills when you find the fish. With the fish constantly moving being able to get on them can be quite the chore. We mainly fish the islands for the giant pumpkinseed that roam the shallow weedbeds but on this trip they were no where to be found.
The day started well before sunrise and with holes cut, we started hopping around trying to find a hot hole. I was on the ice with my buddy Andy and his two younger brothers. It seemed that the entire area that we shredded held fish you just had to sort through a ton of smaller ones. The ratio seemed to be 1 keeper for every 5 fish caught. There were also a ton of bass and pike around!
As we fished in circles, the fishing never picked up or slowed down. It was constant catching all day. Every once in a while you would you could get in a hole and pop a bunch of fish with decent size but that was rare. The biggest trick to the day was to stay high in the water column. While the crappie bite was lacking, the larger gills seemed to cruise above the smaller ones.
As things started to wind down for the day we had iced some nice fish and got some good pictures. The wind had blown all day and our faces and hands were beyond ready for a break from the cold!
It was an interesting day to say the least. After a short morning of trolling boards, I headed to Champlain for some crappie, Launching my boat around 11 am, things were as usual. I had my gear loaded, unhitched, and had my rope clipped on to the bow with the excess rope secured in my tailgate ready to back in. Everything went as planned until I hit the water. As my boat started to float, I heard a loud pop and slowly watched my boat float away deeper and deeper into a dense mat of weeds.
Now in my defense, I hate swimming. I don’t go unless it is completely necessary. I actually contemplated waiting for another boat to come in to rescue me. I though for probably longer than most would have before stripping down and taking a plunge into the nastiest water I have every been in. It took me several tries to get in the boat but I made it work. It was a lot harder than I would have imagined! I spent the next few hours in my underwear drying off which lead to a wicked sunburn on my pasty legs.
Fortunately, after my hardships of the day, the fish were willing to bite. I ended up putting together a limit of nice fish over the next few hours with many throwbacks and some nice bass to boot. There wasn’t any color the fish would hit other than white. All my fish were caught on “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures and the crank bait was dead. With the warm water, it had to be moving slow.
We got on the water at 5 am. We have been keeping track of the water flows recently, trying to align a day where we could get on the water early when there would be some slack above the dam. Finally the day came!
The morning started off cool and foggy with no breeze. As we started fishing, things got off to a slow but fast start. Before even boating our first fish we burned through a tub of crawlers. Although we were getting a lot of bites, none were good enough for us to bury a jig. As the tub quickly dwindled, the first fish came aboard. It was as we expected, a rockbass. As we put a few more rockbass in the boat, we began moving around trying to locate where the walleye were holding up.
The fog was thick and as the sun got a little warmer the walleye turned on. They were located very tight to woody debris in 12-14′ of water. They were relating to brush and smaller timber more than the large logs which usually changes as mid day approaches. Vertical jigging with 1/2 ounce jigs was the only way that we can pull these fish out from the trees without snagging constantly. Although, we did burn through our fair share of jigs!
The hot color for the day seemed to be chartreuse yellow and pink. The one big thing that we were able to confirm was that today the walleye wanted whole crawlers rather than the standard half that we usually offer.
Check out Early Morning Walleye on our YouTube page for more action!