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Exploring Lake Champlain

Part 3 in a 6 part series

By Dale Brown

Let me tell you about a recent trip to a place called Otter Creek, which is next to Little Otter Creek and should not be confused with each other, because they are two distinct and different tributaries of Lake Champlain. I love Vermont.  It's a great state..any place that has more cows then people has to be OK.

There seemed to be several different patterns that the fish were on during this week-long trip to Champlain. It depended on the species.

The Largemouth Bass were hiding in the weeds near the shorelines and were hitting surface lures - not just any lure but a small Pop R. It was the only thing that they would chase. The shorelines where we found them were not very far from deep water. They weren't way in the back of the coves.

The Smallmouth Bass were starting to school. Which is the pattern that they usually don't start until well into Fall and the advent of colder weather. Maybe they were trying to tell us something. They were bunched up on points and were hitting Gitzits. They preferred brown ones. We started to find them as we worked our way north between the Otters and on points above Little Otter, (which is the larger one, but shorter). Some of the points around Thompson's Point are near depths down to 288 feet. This is the beginning, or the deepest part, of the lake.

After you pass though the Points of Thompson and Split Rock you enter the part known as The Broads and the bottom drops down to well over 300 feet. This is where Champ is alleged to live. He's a myth, I hope. The fact is that this area holds some really huge Lake Trout and Salmon. If you were to troll for them in mid summer, you would set your down riggers at 60 feet or more.

When we went up the river to get out of the wind, I was throwing around a Orange Gitzit and caught a 15 pound Carp. Carps don't usually do that, hit a Gitzit I mean, they like to dig around on the bottom in the mud and eat dead things. The normal bait for Carp fishing is to stick a dough ball on your hook that has been laced with corn and olive oil or garlic. Actually, if you baked it, and add a little butter it might not taste too bad, but they prefer it raw. And if it has been laying around in the hot sun for awhile...well that's even better. Sometimes I wonder why we eat things after we learn what they eat? It fought long and hard, and stripped a lot of line out. We had our hands full. Mom netted this baby and she could barely left him into the boat. We also caught a Sheep's Head or Fresh Water Drum up there. Sheep's Head are common in Champlain and get quite large. There a neat looking fish. They like Gitzits also. A brown or orange one usually works well. Fish for them the same way you would fish for smallies. Traveling along staying near deep shorelines and tossing a Gitzit or Sweet Water Chub is a good way to catch Smallmouth and Sheepshead.

Shelburne Bay, on the Vermont side and Willsboro Bay on the New York side are like small lakes on there own. Either of these bays are larger than most of the lakes in Connecticut or Mass.

On the Shelburne side is the Shelburne Museum and is well worth your time to visit. They have some great old boats and exhibits of early life on Lake Champlain. Some large Naval battles occurred here during the Revolution. The U. S. Navy got it's beginnings here. If you have time, stop at Basin Harbor and see one of the reconstructed gunboats. Basin Harbor served as the shipyard for the U. S. Navy on Lake Champlain during that war. There are some old wrecks still around which make good fishing spots. The actual battle occurred near Valcour Island, Just South of Plattsburg, NY. We lost this battle. So what's new? It's amazing that we won that war, because we lost more battles then we won. I guess we won the important ones.

Just around the corner from Shelburn is Burlington, Vermont and some great shopping for you shopping folks. Mom usually disappears into the downtown jungles of mall mania for several days. I just go fishing and try not to think of what horrors she must be enduring in an effort to find garments to wear on her feet and back. She's a good hunter and has never missed a bargain yet.

This section of the lake is the least productive, although that's not to say it isn't worth the trip.  What I'm referring to is that its so deep that most of the area doesn't hold fish. For instance, on the New York side, if you stray away from the shorelines a 100 yards, you will find yourself in a couple hundred feet of water. I find that I fish only the first twenty feet out from the shoreline and keep moving. This is a good example of the adage that only 10% of a lake holds fish.

In September and October the weather is starting to turn, but that means, so is the fishing. During the hot summer months it can be difficult to find good fishing, but with the turning of the weather comes the schooling period. Like the kids returning to school brings joy to the hearts of some beleaguered parents so the schooling of the fish for winter brings great opportunities for fishermen. When you roam the lakes this time of year, you can easily be skunked. Don't quit, and if you find one fish stop and concentrate on that area, because more than likely you could catch as many as 50 fish right there.

Lake Champlain - Part 1
Lake Champlain - Part 2
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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