My buddy and I took the day off to hit Lake Champlain. There seems to be a good number of fish in the islands this year so we thought getting out while the traffic was limited might increase our success. We got on the ice early and cut out a decent sized area before my auger threw a blade. Luckily, we had a backup hand auger which we wouldn’t need until later in the day.
The fish started biting before daylight approached so we knew that we got lucky that we didn’t have to move with the power auger being down. As sunrise approached, we honed in on a few different holes that proved to have a better flow of fish passing through.
We worked round and round steadily picking fish most of the day. Around noon, the bite slowed up big time so we cut a small half circle of hole and found what direction they were moving in. For the rest of the day, we cut small groups of holes to follow the fish as they moved towards deeper water.
Our theory of having better luck when less people were on the ice didn’t seem to matter but by no means was the fishing poor. We caught fish all day and didn’t move much from our initial starting point.
I returned to a place that I swore off for the rest of the year as the bite had been slow and very busy. With a heavy wind in the forecast , It was one of the places I thought that I would be sheltered though.
The fishing was as expected. It was slow but there were a few pickers in the mix if you hole hopped enough. With one decent fish per hole in the right area, it took a while for dinner to find its way into the bucket.
The majority of the fish were found cruising around open water suspended quite a ways from any weeds. Very backwards from a normal bite here. With late ice in the air, you can’t rule out any of the usual locations.
The fish were also particular with what they wanted. They liked a small gold jig and bubblegum plastic with one to two maggots stacked on top. From hole to hole the cadence also changed. Some liked it pounding while others preferred deadsticking.
It was a frustrating day but I ended up with a nice mess of fish to take home!
Our hopes were high that we were going to find crappie in a pond that we had never been on before. It was going to be a nice day the only X factor was going to be the snow conditions in a part of the state we hadn’t been to recently.
Our hopes were quickly squashed when we saw a lake untouched by anyone and a bout 18″ of crusty snow. Regardless, we packed our sleds and made way for a few spots we identified by means of satellite imagery.
The walking was miserable and the loads of small perch and bluegill were over whelming. The highlight of this stop was capturing some cool footage of crawfish in shallow water.
After struggling to make it back to the truck, we came up with a new game plan which included a well traveled spot that was sure to have had some recent foot traffic.
We grabbed some lunch and got back on the water. The walking was much better but the fish were still no where to be found. Our past experiences here were that the morning bite was the best but you could still pick all day long as the fish constantly moved around. Between three of us, we caught one fish from noon to almost 3. Things were not looking good.
We tried three other spots before coming up with a quitting time. As we returned to our first stop at the new location we said 3 was the cut off. If the fish weren’t biting we were going home.
Wouldn’t you know it, at 2:55 it happened. The big perch moved into the shallows and by 4:30 all three of us we were off the ice with limits of slabs!
We could have called it a bust much earlier in the day but our stubbornness kept us going and it paid off!
I had plans to fish alone for the day but a buddy was getting out of work early for an evening smelt bite. I figured it made sense to be in the area so I headed to a nearby panfish pond.
It was a beautiful morning with temps getting into the mid 30’s by the afternoon. The fish bit well to make things even better! I found fish in a concentrated area and only had to cut about a dozen holes for the duration of my time there.
I fished above the weeds with an orange Caty teardrop and maggots. The fish were aggressive and I was able to sight fish once the holes stayed clear of slush because of the sun. While all the holes had different weed layouts, there were a few with weeds almost to the surface. Those holes with tall weeds allowed me to catch the fish within about a foot of the ice. What fun! Around 3, I packed up my gear and made way for our rendezvous point at 3:30.
The smelt spot we selected was ideal because of a plowed area nearby that kept us from having to risk getting stuck in the 16″ of hard packed snow that blanketed the entire lake. We guessed that the depth would be around 40′ deep.
The fishing began slow with a few yellow perch being the first guests coming through the hole. As darkness approached, the smelt showed up in force. At first, they were staying loyal to the bottom but after landing a few, they began to suspend higher and higher.
While the fishing was good, it wasn’t as good as when Mary and I went recently. The fish tonight were much more hesitant of coming right to the surface. They still bit hard we just couldn’t sight fish!
The fish are starting to stage up in the areas we wait to see them in all winter. These are the times when big catches and big fish are the norm. Whatever you enjoy fishing for, there aren’t many times better than this!
I had a relatively slow morning for keepers but the number of small fish was unreal. As I neared the limit of small fish coming through the hole, I started to scheme where else I could go. I settled for a nearby cove.
It took a bit to find a concentration of fish but I was rewarded with big seeds and footlong crappie. They were set up in sparse weeds with a large thick mat nearby. As the hours passed the quality never changed. I hole hopped until it was time to head home and had a mess of quality fillets!
The weatherman called for a nice day and was right but he was way off on the wind forecast! We set up on a recent bite that we had located with hopes the fish hadn’t moved.
The fish were there but no concentration remained. We fished round and round searching for something better. We cut in all directions but only one or two quality seeds would come from a hole.
As we got further from our initial waypoint the number of perch in the 7-9″range was unreal! Happy to be catching fish as quick as you could pull them, we posted up. The fish bit until the cold wind drove us home around 4.
While the flatfish weren’t there in numbers perch saved us. Maybe next time things will be better!
The day started off terrible. We were on the ice with two buddies and cut a ton of holes over a large area that usually produces this time of year. For the hour and a half that we were there, two of us cut while two ran under water cameras. We saw two small perch and one pike. Not what we were hoping for!
We made plans to check a few other spots depending on the foot traffic and to keep moving if it was busy. The first location was a bust so onward we went. The second stop wasn’t much better but there were a few holes between tip up fishermen. As we walked out, we knew the water was shallow but cutting shallow to deep is a good strategy so that’s what we did.
The first hole was in just over 3 FOW. Nothing. Second hole same depth, loaded with pumpkinseed. We decided to cut out a small test area. Things were looking up and there were also crappie, perch, and bluegill. The fishing was slow but most holes offered up a few fish. As we fished in circles, we found a few directions to cut in. The fish were all over but no concentration was evident.
Throughout the course of the day, we had some good runs of fish and the quality was decent. Action was constant all day as long as you never posted up in one spot for too long. All fish were high in the water column excepts the crappie. Kind of strange!
As the day faded, it was time to head for home. The wind was picking up and there was no need to get cold!
I started off my day with a trip to the dentists so things were off to a late start. The snow was flying and with past experiences, many of the best bites have come under similar conditions. The worst part of the day was the 30 mph winds that were predicted to blow!
I hooked up with my buddy around 10:30 and we started fishing on a spot that we hadn’t cut up yet this winter. Things were slow and the few fish that we found were sitting over the top of short weeds in 10+ feet of water. The weedbeds for the most part were almost too thick to fish! After a few slow hours, we packed up and made a move to a new bay hoping things would improve.
After arriving at the second stop, we made small talk with the only guy in the area. He agreed the fishing was slow but told us to cut where ever we wanted. As we worked through the fresh holes, we picked away at the few fish that were around. We knew we weren’t on the spot so we moved in multiple directions until we found a concentration of better sized fish.
We worked over the area pretty well and were content with the results that we were seeing. We were even able to find a few crappie in the area. Things were looking up for an evening Hydro Glow bite!
Around 4:30 the wind really started to pick up and the bite shut off. From then until about 8 I could mark fish on my flasher but getting them to bite was nearly impossible. It was time to call it a night and rethink strategies for tomorrow!
We got the go ahead from the women to hit the ice on Valentine’s day. After sleeping in just a bit, we were headed out on the ice just after 8 to find some panfish. The bite has been decent but the fish quality varies constantly with a lot of small fish in the mix. Only a few people were out most likely do to the cold temps, wind, and snow. After cutting our way out, the fish seemed to be located over one specific weedbed. To combat the cold, we shacked up and got the heaters cranking.
The fish bit. There was nothing you could do wrong as long as the kept the jig moving. We sat 15 feet apart all day once we found a decent pod of fish. The action was constant for gills and the crappie came through in the mix. We were set up paralleling a nice weed edge that the fish were using.
Although the bite was steady throughout the day, the best bites were when the snow came down hard and when the sun was shining. The extremes seemed to bring on the bigger fish. While these were the times to capitalize on, fishing high in the water column also seemed to weed out quite a few of the smaller gills.
We made it home safely after some slippery roads most of the way home!
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!