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Exploring Lake Champlain

Part 6 in a 6 part series

By Dale Brown


Now to sum it all up

Some of the E-Mails that I've received, regarding my articles, mentioned they would appreciate all the help they can get, and have requested more precise information in my summation.   If this is your first article, then be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this article to read the 5 other, more detailed articles about fishing Lake Champlain.

Versatility

First, I always keep several rods, rigged and ready on the deck at all times. As you move around, conditions change, and you have to be prepared to change equipment. If you use the same rig for each change in conditions, you may be missing opportunities. You can make several casts into one set of conditions and swing the boat and be fishing a completely different set of circumstances.

Weedlines

Next, let's start with weeds (which if they're the shoreline variety, are called reeds-they're the common bulrush type). The way that you attack them is to either fish right in front of the ones that are very shallow and line the shore, or take the boat right into the reeds and fish mostly vertically. You need a great electric trolling motor with an even greater weedless prop. A push pole is also great. The trick is to slide around in the reeds, quietly flipping around in every hole. You have to use the longest, and strongest rod you can get. Fenwick's are my choice in rods and they have some great flipping or steelhead rods that are perfect for the job. The fish are right in the reeds, all around you. Sometimes you will catch them within a few feet of the boat. Take a Watermelon Bacon Rind or a Brush Hawg and rig it Texas style. I use a 1\8 oz Mojo sinker and a wide gap Gamakatso or a Lunker City Texposer 3/0 or 4/0 hook. Drop it down and jiggle it, then lift and move a few feet and drop again. It's a lot of work and you have to have the confidence that they're there. When they hit, they really slam the lure. Set the hook and lift all at the same time. You need heavy 15-20# test Trilene XT Low Vis line. I prefer that line, because while it's tough, there is also some stretch to absorb to shock. Just lift them right up and onto the deck of the boat, slapping, splashing and crashing all the way. It's fast and furious, but the Adrenaline rush is great. My wife (Mom) loves this kind of fishing, she calls it dipping. She sits on the back deck and sings old rock and roll songs while dipping a White 1/4 oz spinnerbait up and down in the holes as we go though the reeds. When the fish smash her lure she jumps up and screams while she runs around on the deck until she drags the fish, flopping into the boat. I try to help with the net, but by the time I get there it's all over, except the unhooking, which is of course is why she brings me along.

If you're fishing shore reeds, stay back and cast to the base of the weeds or back into them. Sometimes the fish are way in the back and you'll have to drag them out over the reeds. I use a good 7 foot bait casting rod, with 10# Trilene XL, Low Vis line. I use a Yamamoto Hula Grub, Watermelon or Black, and swim it through the reeds or in front of them. The fish will think it's a frog.

The next weeds to consider are the weed beds themselves. If you look at a weed bed you will find that they're often made up of different types of weeds. Find the different weeds and fish them. Fish the edges of the beds and the holes or clearings. If some of the weeds are thicker, go for them. If they reach the surface and lay over, drop a lure through the canopy. If there is a point sticking out, work that point no matter how small and insignificant it seems. I use a lighter rod with 6# Low Vis line here. You have to be more delicate about setting the hook and finessing the fish out of these weeds. If you find grass on the bottom, even short grass, drag a lure across it. Fish the edges. On Champlain there are Eurasian, Chestnut, Black, and Bulrush reeds, plus grasses of all types on the bottom. Each variety holds fish. If you find any of the aforementioned species of weeds with a scum of any kind or color floating on top of them, get a weedless lure of your choice into the muck. I like a white bellied, small Sluggo on 10# test line with a medium weight rod. Put a nail weight in the nose, and slide it onto the scum and let it sink down through. If one weight isn't enough try another in the tail. The next best choice is a Watermelon /Chartuese Bacon Rind, rigged Texas, or a similar colored Power bait Lizard.

Lilly Pads are the ultimate weed. They are civilized Chestnut weeds. Both are great for fish, but the lillies let a guy enjoy getting the fish out and to the boat. The fish love both because they have lots of food under them, but they also block out the sun. Fish use the shade as a cover to attack prey from. There is nothing like dragging a lure across the top of these weeds and having a fish explode up under it. Well, the next best thing is night fishing for Bass with a Jitterbug. That's about the ultimate, best, fantastic, most exciting way there is to fish. And that's a whole other article.

Fishing the Edges

You'll hear me always suggesting that you fish the edges of something. That means the edge of anything. The edge where sand means rocks or grass, is an edge. Fish will travel along these changes in bottom texture. They'll sit on one edge and watch another. If the bottom changes depth, even just a foot and it's a drop or a ledge or a step, fish it. Never past up a rock, no matter how small. A pile of stones, even if it's a flat pile. A hard rock bottom is always great for roaming fish. If a crawfish, a frog, a water spider, or a minnow can hide in it, around it, or near it, then there will be a fish somewhere there trying to find them.

Creeks are one of the major spawning areas of the lake. They warm up faster then the lake and the fish go up them to nest. And the babies come back out of them after birth. Sometimes the spawn comes out of the mouth of a creek, so thick, you'd think the bottom is moving. If you're around one in June and you see a splash on the surface get a white Sluggo, rat, or gitzit over there fast.

Fishing Lures

As far as lures are concerned, just think about what's happening down there. A flat surface has minnows swimming around, so a small Sluggo with a weight, worked with slow occasional jerks, is just about right. If small minnows are jumping, then a un-weighted Sluggo is the trick. If there are rocks and weeds for crawfish to hide, then an imitation crawfish or a spider grub might do. Crank baits are great, but they're better if jerked around on the top or bottom. A jig and pig is always awesome. Start with small light weight lures moved slowly, in the Spring, and as the seasons go and the water warms up increase the size and speed. Catch a frog, minnow, or crawfish and match their size and color. Fish eat when they are hungry and kill when they are mad. Imitate their food at meal time and make them mad with noise and action when it's not.

Watch the Weather

Watch out for the weather. Champlain is not a forgiving place on a windy day. I keep a weather radio next to my Lazy Boy and I check it every evening and morning. When on the water I keep my radio tuned to the Coast Guard channel. Meanwhile the wind can help change a slow boring day into a great day to be alive. As the saying goes "From the West is best and from the East is least". And if the winds is between you and home it's no fun, no matter which way it's blowing.

If you have a small boat and don't like the big water, just look at this place as a bunch of small lakes connected by canals. There are boat launches everywhere and you could easily launch a row boat from any one of them and have a great day fishing around the launch. Fish one launch and then move to another on consecutive days. If all you want to catch is pan fish, bring a truck because you just found the mother load. This place is everything to everybody. Whatever you want we got it.

Well that's about it. There's so much more to this lake that we could easily spend another article or two just discussing it. If you are a tournament fisherman who intends to compete against me, I lied. If your just a weekend kind of guy, have fun and I'm glad I could help you guys find all the fun that I've been having here for all these years. Yo Mom, pack a lunch, we be gone.

Lake Champlain - Part 1
Lake Champlain - Part 2
Lake Champlain - Part 3
Lake Champlain - Part 4
Lake Champlain - Part 5

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

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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
E-mail

 

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