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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 be rewarded.

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 action.

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 and get all of Dale’s 30 years of experience fishing Lake Champlain in Bass Fishing 101 - Lake Champlain

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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

To contact Reynolds -

Reynolds Marine
264 Hamburg Road
Lyme, CT 06371, USA

Tel (860) 434-0028
Fax (860) 434-0597


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