I hit the road early with a few buddies. We set up shop for the day in shallow water. Mainly less than 6′. The baits were staggered at different depths with the concentration of them being in less than 3′ as the channel is narrow. We hooked up small shiners, half crawlers, and some powerbait.
We were set up around sunrise and the first flag caught us by surprise while we stood around and caught our breath from making sure things were good to go. When the flag popped we all heard the sound and started running. The straws were drawn and I was 3rd in rotation.
The best fishing of the day occurred from sunrise to 10am. We landed a dozen brookies and 2 rainbows. Big fish of the day was also the first fish, a 17.25″ brookie. The highlight of the day was us landing 5 fish in about 20 minutes from one hole that was in a foot of water. We got to watch the fish fighting on the way in as both the water and ice were crystal clear.
I told myself at the beginning of the day I would only keep a fish if it was hooked badly. By the end of the day, I had iced enough for a limit but all of them were hooked nicely in the corner of the mouth. While I went home empty handed, I had enough in the fridge for a meal of perch and crappie.
Cusk are a fun fish but man do they stink! I was greeted by the first stench only minutes after the sun set.
We had our spread of tip ups set out spanning depths from 20-60 FOW. The set up was large sinkers a foot above size 4 hooks baited with cut shiners. One key feature that we noted while setting up, other than the steep drop was a small finger that cut through part of the spread. Last year, the bite was slow but we were earlier in the season this time around and were hopeful that things would be just getting started.
The temperature was the only drawback to the night. With temps below 0, constantly wet hands made it tough to keep moving. Fortunately, the truck was close so we were able to hop in when we needed to warm up. The headlights also illuminated the reflective tape on the flags that tripped!
It was pretty much non stop action until we left at 11pm. While many of the fish we caught tripped the flags, probably a dozen didn’t. The fish got bigger as the night went on but with 6 keepers on the ice and nearly 20 others released, we called it a night. Glad the bait dealer talked me into the extra bait!
Here is a video compilation from earlier this winter while we were searching for walleye.
I ventured out with a buddy well before daylight today. We set up base camp in a saddle between two humps and began placing tip ups along various contours on both sides. Our depths ranged from 14 out to nearly 30 and as the sun rose we were surprised that the flags weren’t flying. It wasn’t until nearly 7:30 that we got our first flag, and walleye. After putting it back, another flag popped on the other end of our spread. Sled in tow we made our way over and pulled in another walleye within only minutes of the first. With two fish caught and released, we had high hopes that the rest of the day would follow suit.
While waiting for flags, we set up a two man flip over shack on one side of the hump trying to jig up perch, bass, walleye, or whatever else might swim by. The jig bite was slow but we stayed plenty busy chasing flags from end to end. Mostly the action was run and drops so we figured the perch were moving through in small schools. However, the perch that we were catching were tanks!
As the day passed, we cooked up a meal of venison sausage for a lunch. The fish were nice and allowed us to eat in peace with no action. After filling our bellies, another slug of perch came through not giving us time to settle and digest. Could be worse though!
As the daylight started to fade, we checked all of our traps to make sure that we were squared away for a successful evening bite. Again we had a back to back walleye episode as well as several more perch. The night was concluded with an after dark, sure bet on walleye flag that turned out to be a rockbass. After the bite abruptly ended, we decided to pack it up and make for home.
We ended the day with 8 or 9 walleye, a bunch of smallmouth, and a couple meals of perch.
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.
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!
After spending the morning alone searching some bays on Lake Champlain that I don’t fish much, I made my way to fish with my buddy Jamie on the southern part of the lake. We had hopes of catching the evening bite for some crappie in deep water.
With a few tip ups soaking, the jigging bite was decent. The tip ups kept us quite busy but not with hook ups. Many of the flags were from the bait getting knocked. Many of the fish that were marking on the graph weren’t willing to bite. It was immediately apparent whether or not a fish would bite though. The bites were hard and most of the time came in short bursts of 3 or 4 fish. Using heavy jigs were important to speed fishing that is requited for these roaming crappie.
We were set up before dark with our spread across a range that covered 17-57 feet of water. Having never tried this before, our best bet was to have a variety of depths covered and zero in if we had enough action. The first hour produced nothing at all so we decided to go chat with a buddy back from where we drove on at.
After a short chat, we made our way back to check things out. Our initial inspection revealed no flags but we knew at times the cusk don’t trip the flags. Many times they will eat the bait and stay put. The first two flags were still baited but had no fish. As we turned around to head to the third, we found that one of our flags on the other side of the spread had sprung.
The flag was deep and yielded a 20″ cusk for us. The rest of the flags were empty but were still baited so afterwards we took a break to let them soak a while longer. During our wait, about 2 hours after dark, our buddy came over to say bye. He was going home fishless but informed us that most of his flags came in about 10 feet of water. We figured that we had nothing to lose so we took a few of the redundant depth flags and moved them in.
With the change in flag locations came a flurry of flags. The bad part was that we couldn’t hook them. As the night progressed, so did the numbers of fish on the ice. We found that most of the cusk came out of deep water. Mainly 45-57 feet and the fish that were firing the flags in shallow were perch. Nice ones too!
Check out Nighttime Cusk Fishing In Vermont on our youtube page for more action!
Notice anything strange?
A buddy invited me to hit the big lake today in search of some lake trout. We were on the water and had our tip ups set up in the dark. After settling down for a bit we set up a shack that we could both fish out of. I wish I could say that we caught a ton of fish or even one but it was a great morning to say the least!
At any point when we dropped the camera down, there was at least one fish cruising the edge of what we could see. Quality ones too! Throughout the course of the morning. We had two opportunities but neither successfully hooked up. Probably the best part of the trip happened when we picked up to leave. With all the tip ups loaded we sat back in the shack to warm up. A quick flash right under our feet revealed an alewife being pursued by a 8-10 pound laker. We saw the fish several times before the alewife escaped up our into our hole. Although it was frustrating, we made the trek off the ice to head out to a different location that was loaded with bass and pike. We also had the opportunity to jig up panfish.
After setting up our tip ups again in shallower water, the jigging bite was good. Seeing 6, 7, or 8 bass in a hole at a time was common. Many times we would be catching crappie and bluegill while bass were inches from our bait! As dark approached we set up the Hydro Glow. The bite was slow but we had some decent sight fishing action. When things winded down, we headed our separate ways and I headed to another pond for some more smelt.
Arriving at the smelt grounds, I was greeted by several buddies of old and new. The fish were there and they were biting. The depth they were biting at constantly changed but it didn’t take long to know if they were active or not. Aggressive jigging seemed to be the key. The smelt were some of the biggest ones that I have seen outside of Lake Champlain!
A cold day warrants spending the day in a shelter. For this day, four of us sat in my Clam Big Foot XL4000T. We had a spread of tip ups out and the action was pretty good. There were loads of perch around and they were willing to bite. Mainly we were running fatheads but we also had medium shiners on a few in case any larger fish went by. For the most part, our action was steady for about two hours. After that, things slowed up pretty well and the cold really had us sticking to the shelter. It wasn’t taking long for the holes to freeze up solid enough so that we had trouble busting them free. After a few hours of very slow fishing and cold weather, we packed up out gear and went out bite a buffet. The fish in the tank had us wondering what they were biting on!