Exploring Lake Champlain
Part 2 in a 6 part series
By Dale Brown
The Family Boat heads to New England in New York
The boundary between New York and the New England states is a distinct line. New
England ain't New York and vise versa. Not so sez I, and Mom would agree. Head up to
Westport, NY on Lake Champlain and you'll see a beautiful little town that looks like it
came straight off the cover of a New England magazine.
Drive up route 9 along the lake and you'll see some of the most spectacular views
in New York or New England. There is one spot along the road in Moriah where you can see
the entire area we are about to explore, after venturing out on the lake, you may want to
return to this spot for an over view of the area.
The town of Westport is full of great places to stay. The dining here is also
excellent, especially at the Yacht Club. The most fantastic smorgasbord type lunch is
served straight across the lake at a place called Basin Harbor Club. You can go there by
boat, but you must dress up a bit. I don't mean that you have to dress to the nines or
anything like that, but your fishing clothes won't do. This is Mom's favorite lunch in the
whole world. This place is so classy. Take the time to take your wife there and you will
I love the eating, but let me tell you about the fishing. Right at the Westport ramp is
a good place to start, don't even trim the motor down. Put on a white spinnerbait with
gold blades, and start along the shore heading for the marina, you can work your way in
and out from the shore to 150 yards off shore, in and out around the sail boats. When you
get to the marina, check under those boats also. This place is loaded with Largemouth,
Smallmouth, Northern and loads of bait fish. Work around the marina and over to the Yacht
club, just throw every where in all directions. move slowly along the shoreline. Don't
miss a boulder or a weed. And even throw out into deeper waters. A Sluggo with a white
bottom is one of my favorites.
Every dock should be given your attention. If you have a spook, turn it lose. What's a
spook, well it ain't no ghost. That's a double negative. A spook is a Zara Spook, a lure,
looks like a six inch piece of broom stick with a point on each end and lots of hooks.
Throw it into the water and twitch your rod and the lure will dart from side to side,
which is called "walking the dog". When there's Smallmouth in the area, this is
about as much excitement as this sport has to offer. The lure stays on the surface, and
when the fish attack, and I do mean attack, there is splashing, crashing, and somersaults
with a lot of screaming and yelling, and that's just from the fisherman. In the water
there's a great deal of yelling, screaming and thrashing around also.
Keep moving along slowly all the way to Young Bay Light House. That could take half the
day. I don't think there is anywhere else that you can catch fish like this. I have a
friend, Billy, the insurance guy, who says that he caught more fish on this shore line in
one afternoon then he caught in his entire life time. And he isn't given to exaggerations.
Just before this shoreline makes a right turn and goes out to the point, there is a little
tiny cove. There are two houses there. If you walked out the front door and into the lake
and swam out 50 yards, you would be able to stand up on top of a sunken reef. That's were
he caught most of his fish in a two hour period on a late afternoon in July. The reason I
know, is I was the guide on that trip.
After you've made it around the point you can start the motor and start to troll. It's
190 feet deep here and good trout fishing.
Continue South and stop at each cove to cast for Bass and Northerns. When you arrive at
Camp Dudley, fish this cove hard and especially around Cole Island, there's a point on
each end of the island with nice Smallmouth. This is an interesting spot. One time, my
buddy, Dicky and I where fishing around the camp, when three men came down to the water
and disrobed and started swimming. But if you think that was something, just a short way
down the shoreline, behind the island we found a women and her mate doing the same thing.
We never did find out if this was common practice or just something the local folks do to
increase the tourists trade.
If you wished, and still have the strength to, you could cross over to the Vermont side
and fish around Mudd Island and Rock Island. These Islands have shoals and rock piles all
around them bristling with Bass and Northerns. Watch the shoals, there bigger then you
might think. I was idling along one day and ran myself right up on one, we had to get out
of the boat and drag Fambo back off it. Fortunately it was a sand shoal. And No, I wasn't
watching for local bathers.
Along this shoreline are more rock piles and rock cribs, don't pass them up. Also there
are huge Garr Fish in these bays. One day Mom and I were drifting along in one of these
bays, it was calm and the water was cloudy. We noticed a line in the cloudy water, and
started to follow it, then there were other lines. Just like something had cut the water
and left these little clear lines in the muddy water, we followed and found these huge
Garr fish with just their noses sticking out of the water, slowly drifting though the
water. They spotted us, the water flew, and they were gone.
Start heading North now, next is Arnold Bay, good weed bed for Largemouth. If you were
to troll around in this area you would catch some nice Trout, that means of course, Lake
Trout and Salmon.
If you were to troll in a straight line from Arnold Bay to Button Island you would
suddenly find that you would go from 60 feet up onto a shoal only 10 feet deep. It's small
but worth looking for, there are some nasty Smallmouth living there also. The Button Bay
State Park has lots of weeds and Bass, check the crib out over in the corner.
Scotch Bonnet and Marker #25 should be checked for Bass and trout.
You're at Basin Harbor now and could continue North to Otter Creek area for Bass and some
giant Northerns and even a little farther to Little Otter Creek. You could launch into
either of these areas and spend a day just roaming and casting. We'll do another segment
later, about the bigger, which is the smaller and the small one that is the longer?
The area from Westport to here should take two or three days to fish, and your rod and
reel should be due for an over haul by the time you finish.
Cross back over to the New York side and start to go slowly South, along the shore
again. Snake Den Harbor, there are places along this shore where the front of your boat
could be next to the shore and the back could be in 100 feet of water. These rocks are
full of Smallmouth. Each and every point has fish, just work slowly. A gitzit in the #195
color works great. When I'm up here, a white spinnerbait, an Arkansas Sluggo, black Super
Pork jig an pig, minnows or a needle nose spoons is all I use. Some days I may use only
one of these all day long, don't forget your spook.
Rock Harbor is next. there are little points and shoals all over in here. don't miss a
10 foot square area. Partridge Cove, it's a little hole in the wall, literally, and once
inside you'll find it is the perfect place to stop for lunch or a coffee float, when you
pull in, your likely to find other folks in here also. Some with cloths some without. Just
pull in and tie the bow to a limb sticking out and lay back take off your shirt, or what
ever and have a cool or hot one. Take a swim if the mood strikes. After all the fish you
just caught, you deserve the rest.
Hunter Bay is an other cove that is a must fish spot, be sure to check the points on
either end. Be sure to fish out away from the shore, there are weeds and rock piles. The
cribs and rocks in here are great.
Around the corner and down the shoreline is marker "A". It has two humps
under it with some nice trout and Smallmouth around. From here, back to the ramp at
Westport is good shoreline. The closer you get to the ramp the more likely you are to
catch some nice Largemouth. Fish the weeds carefully, surface lures work very well here. A
Black Widow Maker buzz bait is excellent, because of the light weight materials that
Charlie McCabe uses in there design, it allows for a nice slow retrieve with maximum
A word of caution here. Watch the weather, you are very close to the mountains on this
part of the lake, that's why it's so deep. A storm can sneak up and come over the
mountains, and drop down on the lake. So check the weather station and watch for
thunderstorms. Actually, this is good advise no matter where you're fishing. The fishing
before a thunderstorm is often quite good and really lousy after one has passed.
Especially if the storms come at night, the fish are still hiding, they don't like all
that flashing either. Mostly it's the rapid change in barometric pressure that leaves them
drunk and hung over.
Well the kid is loading the boat and Mom is packing lunch. I have to tote that barge
and flip that bail, it's a dirty job, but, well you know the rest.
Lake Champlain - Part 1
Lake Champlain - Part 3
Lake Champlain - Part 4
Lake Champlain - Part 5
Lake Champlain - Part 6
If you found this article helpful, go to
www.thefamilyboat.com and get
all of Dale’s 30 years of experience fishing Lake Champlain in Bass
Fishing 101 - Lake Champlain
The Family Boat series is brought to you by
Skeeter Bassboats & Reynolds Marine
Reynolds has new Skeeter Bass boats, new saltwater boats, as well as a
large line of used boats
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