Tag Archives: VT Sportsman

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!

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5-14-12 – Walleyes On Their Way Out?

Vermont’s walleye season is in full swing and I’ve taken every chance I’ve had to get on the water with hopes of boating a few.   Yesterday, I was able to get out with a few friends for some afternoon fishing.  The weather was fair, partly cloudy skies with breaks of sun. Recent rain has pushed a lot of the fish out that had made their yearly migration up the river to spawn.  There is eight miles of river that is fish-able from the mouth of the Winooski River up to the dam. Walleye will spawn all through that stretch with great concentrations the further you are up the river.  When we get a lot of rain, those fish tend to start working their way back out of the river with the flow once they have spawned.  This is a great time to hook into a walleye of a lifetime.

I met the boys at the boat launch and they had already had some luck earlier that day.  Dody was able to hook into a really nice fish that he was all excited about entering it into Vermont’s Master Angler program. The fish was about 30″ and pushing 7.5lbs, a dandy for sure. He caught it vertical jigging a 3″ Berkley Gulp Minnow.  Considering it was a weekday there was a good amount of boats on the river enjoying a nice spring day.  Many of the boats had put some fish on the stringer earlier dragging crawlers on the bottom.  As the season progresses and the water warms up, this method becomes more and more effective.  There’s really nothing to it.  A hook and enough split shot to keep the crawler on the bottom and sit and wait.  The walleye moving up and down the river will eat most things you put in-front of them but the hard part is finding a school and staying with them as they move. I know this sounds cheap but the easiest way to do that is to look for the boats concentrated in one area!

I was dragging a crawler with one rod and vertical jigging a minnow with the other.  The only fish I was able to boat all day worthy of the net was a really nice smallie that decided to pick my crawler up off the bottom.  No walleye for me.  Scott from VT Sportsman was able to hook into a few smaller fish, two being keepers for the stringer.

Hey, that’s why it’s called fishing right?  I’ll give it another shot this weekend.

Walleye Season Opener

This Saturday, May 5th, marks the beginning of Vermont’s walleye season in waters excluding the Connecticut River which is open year round.  This annual event is long waited for many anglers in the Green Mountain State.

Walleye’s spawn in the spring and often times choose to travel miles up feeder rivers to lay their eggs.  Lake Champlain has three major river systems on the Vermont side( Winooski, Lamoile and the Missisquoi) that see a fantastic run of eyes starting in April and May,  ending the later part of June depending on conditions.  This is event is so popular with local anglers that you often hear he phrase, “you could have walked across the river there were so many boats.”  This is often times the case, it is nothing to see more than 50 boats on one section of the river at a given time.

We are fortunate to be friends with some of the most knowledgeable Walleye fishermen in the area in my mind.  Scott Blair of Vt Sportsman has helped us hone our skills with one of the most effective ways to catch these elusive eyes.  It’s simple.  All you need is a jig, a barrel swivel and a fathead minnow.  Scott uses 6lb mono with a 1.5″ leader, the barrel swivel connecting the two.  The swivel will reduce line twist while fishing in the current and increase bites.  Depending on the conditions, different weighted jig heads are a must.   Scott prefers to use a 1/2 oz jig head when the river has a good amount of current and he slims that down to a 3/8 oz when conditions are right.  Once rigged up,  Scott simply bounces the bottom.  He uses his trolling motor to slowly troll up and down the section of river that he wishes to fish, jigging the minnow over the side with an up and down motion, yes your arm will be sore by the end of the day.  “Once that jig hits the bottom jig it up, but slowly let the jig fall, the fish will just be there when you you feel weight, seek it and forget it!”   Early season produces some high quality fish for our area, 7-10 lbers.  It is not unusual to get a respectable limit (3 fish) in an outing.

Another popular method used is to use the current and some sort of work harness to drag night crawlers downstream.  The method will produce fish but is more effective once the water warms up later in the spring, minnows seem to work better with the early spring water temps.  Good Luck out there, tight lines!

Scott Blair with A 2011 Spring Walleye

4-14-12 – A Blue Bird Saturday

After doing some house hold chores that had been building up since the end of ice season I pulled my boat up to Lake Champlain on Saturday morning. Weather at departure was overcast skies and temps in the low 40’s.  The plan was to be meeting up with some of the boys from VT Sportsman and see if we could put some crappie in the boat. Arrived at the launch at 9 and managed to get the boat in and only get a little bit of water in my boots. I arrived at my spot to find only one other boat there and one person fishing from shore, luckily I was good friends with the shore fishermen and knew who the boys in the boat were.  I pulled in, dropped my anchor and made a cast, nothing.  The boys in the boat were pulling fish left and right so I did my best to re-position ethically to a spot where I could reach the fish.  The fish were on fire for the first hour, however the bait that they really wanted was a Bobby Garland baby shad in Black Bubblegum.

The fish were schooled up pretty hard and with the right cast you would get bit every cast.  Most crappies in the morning were all worthy of the cooler and I did see many nice fish (12″) being caught.

As the day went on we were joined by many more people who knew that the bites was on.  The overcast day turned into a blue bird day.  I don’t mind other people fishing around me, but I was constantly being blocked off with my casts by another fishermen.  Not very ethical in my mind. So me being who I am decided that I would leave fish to get away from the crowd, not a great idea.  I fished nearby in some areas that had the same structure as the one where we were getting fish but only found small perch.  So, I made my way back and set up in  a different spot.  By this time the bite was slowing considerably and the fish were spread out making things much more difficult.   The water temp was only 45 degrees, I think these fish were here because the bait was there. I did however check on my Navionics app and noticed that this part of the way was actually an inside turn, and the exact spot that the fish were in was the turn itself.

The crappies stopped biting and the bluegill came in, which is probably the reason why the crappies vacated the area.  I switched up my baits to a small Mister Twister Tail in a motor oil color and managed to boat some really nice bluegill and pumpkinseed.  Ended the day with a dozen crappies and 24 nice bluegill and pumpkinseed. Wish I would have been there at daylight!

3-3-12 – The Weather Made The Day

So as you have seen in earlier posts, I had a pretty decent day at the VT Sportsman last tourney held at Dillenbech Bay on Lake Champlain in Alburg,VT last Saturday.  There was certainly a lot of luck that lead to me to my final weight but some other things conveniently fell into place.

To begin, the weather was the worst I have ever fished in.  The temps weren’t bad but the wind was a steady 25mph at the get go and was gusting up to 55mph.  Like most of these tournaments, I was going to have to spend a lot of my time inside my Clam Shack.  I pre-fished the day before and found that the fish were not in the locations that they normally were in this bay.  They had been the week before but the recent snowfall cover on the ice had pushed them elsewhere.  It was up to Dylan and I to find that new location.  I had a feeling that the school had pushed out into deeper water.  We set out a little after six and walked right by the crowd which was right where we always fished and out to deeper water.

As soon as I picked my auger up out of my sled the wind literally tossed my shack up side down and dumped all of it’s contents, the wind was blowing!  That’s a 50lb shack empty.  We cut holes and fished.  The first hour was slow, I managed to catch a few bluegill to put in the bucket but no crappie.  I decided that I was going to work south towards a rather larger inside turn that I saw on my Navionics. I cut a line of holes and at the end I caught a 10″ crappie.  I punched more holes and brought Dylan and our buddy Mark over.  At this point I was fishing out in the wind.

In order to detect bites better I had switched jigs and tied on a HT Tungsten glow and chartreuse tipped with maggots.  This added weight helped to keep my line tight in the hole and allowed me to feel the bites even with the wind gusting up to 55pmh.  This was the first move that the weather caused me to make that would prove successful.

Enough was enough, a fellow fishermen said he had been getting fish sight fishing, dead sticking minnows. So into my shack I went to see what was going on.  Truth be told, the Crappie were coming in right under the ice, anywhere between 6″-2.5 feet down.  The minnows however seemed to scare them.  I cut more holes and sight fished but had no hook ups. Finally, at about 10am the wind died and it started raining, more reason to stay in your shack right? Nope, not me, I got out of my shack with a feeling that this pressure change was going to turn the fish on.  I grabbed my rod with my Tungsten jig and thought about plastics. Maki Plastics makes great baits.  I’ve used a lot of his smaller profile baits this year but never really tried any of his bigger stuff.  I open my bag and dug through what I had.  I heard a voice in my head, the Voice of Jamie Vladyka, ” white is the Champlain color man”.   I pulled out a white bait that was probably 2-3″ long, looked like a worm with a devil tail, the Spiiki.

This bait was poison to the crappies for the rest of the day.  By now the cat was out of the bag and fellow fishermen were quickly moving in to our location.  It was hard to hide scooping a 12″ crappie that was too big to lift out of the hole, oh well that’s tournament fishing for ya.

The weather caused me to do two things that proved to be key today, one tie on a heavy jig, and two, rain and pressure change forced me OUT of my shack and the fished turned on.  I ended the day with a 4.73 bag of 6 fish and the big fish of the day weighing in at 1.58lbs.  A good day for sure!

VT Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series Concludes This Weekend

Alright, so the final leg of the VT Sportsman Hardwater Tournament Series is this Saturday, March 3rd, at Dillenbeck Bay on Lake Champlain. There was suppose to be two tournaments remaining but due to deteriorating ice conditions in southern VT, the Larrabees Point stop was cancelled.The ice on Dillenbeck as of Monday was good. There was well over a foot and trucks were driving on and going all over the place. Still not enough ice for me to drive on though! I even declined a ride off the ice in a smaller vehicle!

The bite was decent. We caught loads of bluegills with a few seeds and crappie mixed in. With this strange winter we are having, the fish seem to be ahead of schedule and are staging up in areas more towards their spawning grounds. With the snow we are getting now and the rain that is predicted for Saturday, it’s going to be interesting! Bring your raincoat and a maybe snowshoes!

This weekend, the overall points winner will be crowned as well as a single tournament stop winner. Prizes for the day are given for heaviest weight of 3 crappie and 3 sunfish as well as big fish. Neither Bobby or I have a shot unless there is a significant error in the math skills of the guys that put these great events on; Jamie of Fish Hounds Outdoors and Scott.

For more information on ice conditions and bites in the islands check out: VT Sportsman Forum.