Tag Archives: Vermont

3-13-15 – Crappie Evening Bite

I took the day to catch up on chores around the house but made plans mid day to chase an evening crappie bite with my buddy Mark. We ended up on the ice shortly after 4 and got right into the fish.

The fish were cruising a weed flat in 10-12 feet of water. They preferred the holes with weeds that came up to about 5 feet but could be caught just about anywhere. When you found them, they were super aggressive! We tried multiple jig, plastic, meat combos but it didn’t seem to matter as long as it was moving.

As the sun started to set, the fishing slowed but with fish still cruising, you just had to wait. Just about every fish that went through bit. As time went by we iced some nice crappie with the biggest pushing 13″. While the majority of the fish came through 6-8 feet off bottom, we did pick several right out of the mud.

We released them all for next time and packed it in just before 10.

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3-3-15 – Growing The Sport

As I add more years on to my age, I grow more and more concerned about getting our youth involved. A few of my students approached me about advising a Hunting/fishing club and without a doubt I accepted. I’ve had the chance to take them on the ice few times this year and as February break was almost over I took two of them to what I thought was going to be a hot bite and a positive time on the ice for these youngsters.

We made our way to the lake with a few extra Vexilars for the boys to use. Dylan and I had fished this spot the previous week and it was a hot bluegill bite. I thought it was going to be an easy day for the boys giving them a little confidence by putting some fish in their buckets. I drilled the area out and got the boys all set up and ready to jig. It didn’t take long for the two of them to start a baseball game, there was a great deal of swinging and missing going on as I fished beside them.  After a few tips on presentation and ready the electronic in shallow weeds they were both hooking up a bit more. We fished for a few hours and I soon realized that the fish just weren’t here. I cut another grid of holes and went searching. I was able to locate some fish but they had slid to the weed edge in 9 feet of water and the weeds were right to the ice. This wouldn’t be a problem for me and Dylan but knowing that I had two young fishermen with me that had no experience reading electronics in thick weeds I decided it would be best if I took them to another body of water to target deep water suspending crappie.

We packed up our gear and made the short trip to a nearby setback. This particular setback was well known for a decent crappie bite early ice and I was hoping there might still be a few fish we could talk into biting. The conditions were poor, we had about 16 inches of heavy snow to deal with. I sent the boys out to clear a few spots in the channel for me to drill about 20 holes. It didn’t take long for one of them to get hooked up. As a matter of fact I don’t think I had even got my rod out yet. The first fish to come up was a decent little crappie, which to these boys was like pulling up a piece of gold. We had a short spurt where the fish would bite but it seemed like you’d only catch fish out of a hole that was fished for the first time, these fish are the fussiest crappie I have ever met. Both boys were able to catch a few fish, one even landing a nice pike. That’s what this sport is all about.  Teaching and passing on what we have learned to the generations will only support a positive experience for those to come.

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2-25-15 – It Was Good While It Lasted

The trip for the day would be a quick but early one.  My plan was to arrive to the lake and have my holes drilled by 6am in an effort to capitalize on and early morning perch bite. The perch that swim in this particular body of water are typically that of the larger, “jumbo” variety and the best best has always been the first hour of light.  I made it to my coordinates a little after 6 and talked briefly to a fellow fishermen as I cut about 8 holes. The bite hadn’t started yet according to the voice coming from the shanty so I was relieved that I hadn’t missed it.

I fished my first hole without a mark on the Vexilar and then moved to the second. As soon as the transducer settled in the hole, I could see there were a few stacked beneath me. The perch in this lake are notorious for non-stop movement when they’re feeding. If you’re able to catch more than 3 out of a hole you’ve done good. The best method we’ve used is the leap frog method the chase the school, but i’m without a fishing partner so that wouldn’t work. This year, for some reason the fish seemed to be staying put, meaning they were in the exact same holes for a better part of a month. Because of this, a nice area had been all plowed out for decent fishing conditions. I quickly caught 8 nice jumbo perch and was now on my third hole as were a few old timers. The guys that plowed the area out a few days prior pulled up and asked me how the fishing was. I replied with “they’re just starting to turn on now”. Well once that was said they decided they needed to make some more room for themselves to fish so they began plowing more of the area out. The fish were gone once that plow hit the ice.

I fished through the rest of my holes without marking any decent sized fish and picked up my auger to venture away from the plowed area.  The fish had vacated the area completely.  It’s amazing how noise on the ice can impact fish in 35 feet of water, but if I had a plow blade being dropped in my house i’d probably leave too!  Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

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1-30-15 Light Em’ Up With The Hydroglow

After a successful jigging new waters, we decided to test out the night time crappie bite. As many of your probably already know crappie can often be great night time feeders. Most fishermen choose to fish at night using some sort of illumination, anything from a lantern to a car headlight. For a few years now we have been fishing for crappie and trout at night use the Hydroglow Fishing Light. The Hydro Glow illuminates by using Green LED’s which are less abrasive to the fish and their feeding attitude.

We cut three holes, put the light in the middle hole and shacked up. As you can see in the pictures below the light really illuminates the ice and the water underneath it. It didn’t take long for the light to begin attracting bait-fish and crappie. Dylan hooked into a crappie within the first 10 minutes of the light being deployed. Night fishing requires a lot of patience. The fish typically are cruising at night searching out an easy meal. The longer you can stay in a hole with fish nearby the better chance you will have of putting a few topside. We fished them the same as we would during the day. Small jigs tipped with Maki Plastics and spikes.

The area we were fishing didn’t have much for weeds or any other kind of structure. When you would mark a fish on the bottom they were usually pretty easy to entice them into biting. We were able to ice a decent number of crappie with a few bluegill and perch mixed in a matter of a few hours. Not a bad first trip for a new spot.

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1-30-15 – Had The Place To Myself

We have had some great days during heavy snowfalls and today was no different. I arrived to my spot later than anticipated after missing my alarm and having to deal with snowy roads throughout the entire drive. I was cutting my first hole after 9 am though and was pleasantly surprised to see nothing but crappie as far as I could see on my underwater camera. After cutting another dozen holes, I got to fishing.

The first, second, and third fish that I caught were all crappie. The size also increased throughout as well. After the first three drops, I began catching mostly pumpkinseed so I moved on. The fishing slowed the deeper that I went so I was able to dial in an area and cut more holes over the sweet spot.

Throughout the day, the fish bit consistently as long the wind wasn’t blowing from the north. Mostly, the wind came from the west but it was variable and gusty. Fortunately, it switched often enough so that I never went long without a fish! When the wind stayed constant from the north, I used the downtime to search for better pods of crappie.

It’s always a toss up whether noise scares fish. Sometimes one auger is fine but two is too much. Other times it fires them up or scares them away. Today, cutting holes worked to my advantage. The noise seemed to scare the pumpkinseed and bluegill away. When they were gone the crappie fed heavily! I was able to capitalize during these times to add to my collection of fish!

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1-29-15 – Deep Water Crappie

I was greeted with a -11 degree temperatures at a body of water I had previously never seen. The lake could be classified as a basin lake with some other interesting contour/habitat around. I figured that I would begin my pursuit on the first slope into deeper water that I would cross.

The first hole I cut was over 20 FOW. I sat in my flip over shack for a few unsuccessful minutes before moving on. My second hole was in 5 feet deeper and stacked with fish. I dropped down a spoon because it was all I had tied on so far. I had lots of reactions and even a few bumps but no hook ups. I quickly tied on a smaller jig and threaded on a micro plastic. After dropping my jig down 15 feet I was hooked up. I reeled in an 8″ crappie. With fish still on the graph I quickly dropped back down to them and hooked up again. With two fish released, it seemed as though they had moved.

I sat still for a while longer and about 20 minutes later another pod of fish moved through. Again I pulled two fish out of the 6 or 7 that I marked. Figuring that I would see that pattern throughout the day, I gave it one more go. I sat for close to the same amount of time without a mark and then they popped up again. I pulled three fish this time but they were still in the 8-9″ range. I decided that it was time to cut out further.

Over the next couple of hours I explored the 25-40 foot range. While I caught a few crappie, they were all near the 25 foot mark. I abandoned the deeper water to cut the entire perimeter of the 25′ contour. My success continued with just about any hole I cut at the right depth. The only time I saw anything different was in one hole over 40 feet of water. It was stacked with 6 feet of fish suspended 15 feet of bottom. I figured it was a pod of bait but the only thing I pulled out of it were crappie.

I fished just about an entire day and highlighted my Navionics chart with waypoints varying from 24-26 feet of water where the majority of the fish were cruising. Although the biggest fish I caught was 10″, I see the potential for larger specimens. I will be back in the spring with my boat to see what else the lake has to offer!

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11-17-14 – We’re Back!

Obviously, the changing outdoor season have limited our time on the water but not the time in the field! We spent a great deal of time the last month and a half chasing deer. While neither of us tagged a deer with our bows, the opportunities were there and some great memories were made. The between days from bow to rifle, yielded some great insight as to what rifle season would offer.

P1050854While we didn’t both have a deer down, we were both part of successful early morning hunts. Bobby shot an 8 point, 140 pounds and my girlfriend Mary shot her first deer a 6 point, 129 pounds. As with last year, both of these deer were on the trail cameras all summer long and have given us some heart throbbing moments through bow season. Sure was a great start to the season! The following morning, I passed on two smaller bucks before cutting up Marys deer. Back at it after a few days of work…

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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…….

 

 

2-8-14 – Round 3 VSHTS

Saturday Febuary 8th brought us to round 3 of the Vermont Sportsman Hardwater Tounament Series at Mallets Bay on Lake Champlain.  Conditions weren’t ideal at all, with temps in the teens and a wind chill around zero.  Besides the weather, the bay was going to present it’s own challenges.  The portion of Mallets Bay where this event was held, had ample room for fishermen to move around and fish plenty of water, but the fish seemed to be located on one particular weed bed which meant the fishing was going to be close quarters.

At 6 am, we were given the go ahead to start drilling holes and use our electronics but no lines in the water until 6:30.  Most of the 36 fishermen all headed for that one weed bed and started drilling their holes.  In hind sight, I think we drilled all the fish out of that area,  as we started fishing the action was slow.  Those that made slight adjustments in location were able to stumble upon the larger groups of fish that had been drilled out at first light.  Dylan made a slight but significant move east and was able to connect on nice crappie that ultimately won him big fish for the day.  Funny part was it was the same hole that his crappie came from yesterday! The bite was tough to say the least for the better part of the day.  The fish were scattered and easily spooked when we would punch a few new holes.

Towards the end of the day, Dylan figured out that the crappie were suspending about half way down the water column and they were cruising, which means you didn’t always mark them on your electronics. Jigging at four feet would often bring a cruising crappie in and make them bite.  This was a major adjustment made, as we had been fishing in the weeds for the better part of the event.

At the weigh-in Dylan checked in his 6 fish limit with two seeds, two crappie, one bluegill, and a perch giving him a weight of 3.68 pounds and good enough for first place along with his big fish prize.  Bobby struggled all day to say the least not catching any crappies and weighing in a limit of seeds and dink perch for a weight of 1.78 lbs.  At the end of the day, the win for Dylan was a major boost in the points moving him up to first place from 6th.  Bobby’s weight caused his to drop a few positions down to 6th from third but he’s still in the hunt.  The final points event for the season will take place at Laphams Bay in Shoreham on Febuary 22nd.  It’s going to be a shoot out!

11-30-13 – Freezers Are Stocked For Winter

Well the blog has taken a backseat the last two months while Vermont’s deer season has run most of its course. Neither of us filled a tag during bow season but we had numerous opportunities at small bucks and doe with fawns. With nearly 2.5 months to hunt, the urge to shoot the first deer we see isn’t very high. During the past few weeks both of us were able to put a buck on the ground. Although any deer is special, we both had months of history with the deer we shot. Now that winter is on its way, action on here will pick back up. Check out below for stories of our success!

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These voles were a couple of friends that I made while sitting on the ground.

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Dylan’s Buck

When rifle season began, the weather wasn’t great. Warm, rain, and crunch are the factors that we have come to expect in recent years. On the positive side, my girlfriend started hunting this year and she was excited. With my work schedule, I  wasn’t able to hunt at all opening day. She was able to get out with her father and brother for a few hours on Saturday. When Sunday morning rolled around, I was excited because of some of the recent activity on my trail cameras.

We hit the woods early but ended up pushing deer the entire way to where we intended to sit. We were both feeling a little down on our luck thinking that we had forced the deer out the small area that we were in. Fortunately, the deer were just staying ahead of us. As the sun started to rise, the woods came alive. As we sat watching over a scrape line, I heard something coming in behind us. As I turned a buck chasing a doe sped their way through behind us. Unfortunately, the deer never offered a shot and made their way out. We switched up where we were sitting thinking that they might come back through. About 45 minutes later a doe with two fawns came through. Having some errands to take care of mid day, we left the woods.

I went out alone for the evening and had another encounter with a nice buck. Around 4, I checked to see what time legal shooting hours ended. Being in the softwoods it seemed to be getting dark early. A few minutes later I heard a grunt over the hill from me. I got ready but ended up having a deer come into the side of me. Not being able to identify it for almost a minute, I had a feeling that it was a buck when I could hear the dirt hitting the trees as it made a scrape. When it poked its head out I had no shot at its vitals but was impressed with its head gear. It was on a trail that would cross about 20 yards in front of me. With the base of a large spruce in front of me, I waited for the deer to come out. As time went by I thought it should have came out by now but it hadn’t. I poked my head back out and could see its hind quarters still flickering his tail. Back into my position I waited again. Still nothing. I turned back and he was standing broadside, staring at me 25 yards away. Not being able to turn, we had a stand off. I told myself that I would turn when he moved. As his head dipped, I turned and he disappeared into the raspberry thicket nearby. Bummer! A few minutes later A doe came in to check things out. No bucks was following though…

The next morning I tried to convince Mary to come back out with me but she couldn’t because of work. She told me that I would shoot one though. I returned to where we had sat the previous morning. It was pouring rain but I felt like I needed to be out there. As the sun rose I noticed a rub made since the morning before only a 15 yards away. I knew the buck would be back. At 8am the rain stopped. Eight minutes later the doe with twins came right into me but got spooked by activity at a house nearby. The deer worked out slowly. Twenty minutes later, I caught a flash where the doe entered my area. Before I could get my gun up I saw antlers. Game on. He worked through with his head on the ground. It was the buck that I had seen the morning before.

Through the birch slash I couldn’t pick a shot as he moved quickly. He ended up chasing the doe with twins back into view and split them up. The twins went down by me and the buck and doe disappeared again into their bedding area. About 45 minutes later he came in on a string and turned broadside at 4o yards. I took a small window for a shot and he hunched up. My second shot was on a dead run a 20 yards. I dropped him in his tracks. What an exciting morning! He ended up weighing 136 and was a 5 pointer with a 14″ spread.

Although I wish Mary could have shot him or at least been there, I am certainly happy to put some meat in the freezer!

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Bobby’s Buck

After a limited bow season due to the baby, I was ready to get back in the tree with my rifle.  While moving stands a week before the season I came upon a fresh scrape under the tree of one of my rifle stands.  I decided to hang a camera over the scrape to see what was going on there.  Within the first four days I have three different smaller bucks on camera hitting the scrape with a number of doe frequenting it as well.  On days five and six I had pics of two really decent central Vermont bucks which just stoked the fire even more.  Even after seeing a larger number of decent bucks on camera there was still one that I had been getting pictures of all summer that I was after.  His name was “Crabby”,which was given to him after the first time I got him on camera, he seemed to have had a bit of a crab claw on his right side.  Along with the numerous pictures I also had this deer under me at 18 yards during bow season but was unable to get a shot due to a few branches that he seemed to know where there.

The first two weeks of rifle season were frustrating.  Both me and my father were seeing a ton of deer but only smaller bucks, and those that were legal all seemed to have busted up the racks.  The second Saturday I had 16 deer within 30 yards of me at once, one small 4 point that didn’t seem to care to much about the doe, I chose to pass on him.  Where I hunt the flood gates seem to open when the rut kicks into full swing.  We have a lot of doe on our property and there have been days when we’ll see multiple racked bucks cruising the pastures in search of our hot does.  This year was different, it just hadn’t happened.  The second week of the season brought us not so ideal conditions for hunting and deer movement.  The temperatures were very cold, we did have a few inches of snow which helped some.  Deer seemed to be moving only at night as I had very few tracks by my stand on the hardwood ridge behind my house.

The last weekend was more of the same, however this time I had come up with a plan.  From what I could see for tracks it looked like a lot of our deer were spending the day bedded on a thickly covered ridge with ceder and pine trees.  I knew that there was a decent buck in there as I had seen his tracks heading there for the past couple of days.  All I needed to do was to get them out of there and on their feet.  I dropped a buddy off to sit and circled up and around to the top of the ridge.  Hoping that having two hunters on the ridge would get the deer on their feet.  I wasn’t in my spot for more than a minute when I heard some deer coming.  The second deer I saw had good bone on his head!  Once I was able to see that he was for sure a legal buck I had to find a way to make a shot.  I took the only shot he gave me as he stopped facing straight away from me.  It was close but I made it count as the deer piled up.  Walking up to the deer I realized that it was Crabby, the same buck that out maneuvered me during bow season and that I had so many pictures of.  I am very pleased with the outcome of a lot of hard work scouting and the patience I had early in the season.

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