I've been fortunate to have met and created great relationships with some outstanding anglers these last few years. On the top of that list is none other than Canadian fishing icon and recent inductee into the Canadian Fishing Hall of Fame, Pete "Bowrod" Bowman. So when Pete gives me a call and says, "Ok Bud, those largie pics you've been posting are absolutely killin' me. I'm coming down!", it's my pleasure to bring him out for an adventurous day on mighty Lake Champlain for some early season bass fishing.
With the recent cold snap, I figured we would maximize our chances by targeting the warmest water possible. With recent reports of 39-42 degree water temps from the north end, I thought it would be a good idea at this point to call in the help of good pal and Champlain conoisseur, Dennis Fontaine. Dennis had been out the weekend before and he managed to put together a decent bite under tough conditions. After a long discussion, we decided that our best bet would be to head down to Ticonderoga, the southern end of the lake known for its warmer conditions and abundant largemouth bass population.
We got to Ti at about 8am and the weather conditions looked near perfect. Water temp read an acceptable 48 degrees and the confidence began to build. We started working a 3-4ft deep bay with emerging vegetation with an interesting rip rap wall. Pete hooked up on a few buck bass and even a decent keeper using his single colorado blade spinnerbait. But then it happened. From out of nowhere, winds from the North West started to howl, white caps began to form and before we knew it, we were caught in 4ft+ waves and 40-45km/hr winds! We did everything we could to try to find shelter or perhaps a bay that was out of the wind but unfortunately with the way that area of the lake is, there was simply nowhere to hide. We safely made it back to the ramp, loaded up and hit the road.
Back up plan? We figured we would try putting in a little more upstate and maybe find some coves or inlets that would be out of the wind. Although the sky was blue and air temps were in the 10-12 degree range, the NW/NE wind was just biting cold. We put in on the north end of the lake and water temps were a chilly 42 degrees. After finding refuge in a small inlet, we actually managed to find a school of largies that were willing to cooperate! Dennis figured out the pattern first by downsizing his presentation and pitching a light and compact 3/8oz texas rigged Powerbait Chigger Craw in black w/blue fleck. Combined with a light wire hook and some fluorocarbon line, he managed to hook up one after the other. Pete and I literally watched the Dennis Fontaine show as he continued to catch bass after bass with his finesse presentation. The fish were actually really loose and not holding tight to any structure at all. Instead, we found them hanging out in deeper pockets adjacent to the structure. Another element to the presentation was to practically not move or "deadstick" the bait. The less you moved it, the more chances you had of getting bit. Lesson learned? Cold water = smaller presentation and less action.
Overall, although the day could have easily been a write off, we still managed to hunker down, concentrate and figure out how to make the most of it. No real piggies this time out but well over 20x bass boated, all in the 1.5-3lb range. Fishing with Dennis is always a blast but I can personally tell you that fishing with Pete Bowman is absolutely as fun as you already think it is. An awesome guy with a fantastic attitude, a true passion for the sport and great stories to share. Looking forward to my next adventure with him on the water, maybe I'll make the trip and visit him....
What do you do when you hit 30 degrees in April??? Go fishin for bass of course! Took advantage of the ridiculous heat and headed to Champlain with my Renegade Bass partner, Daniel Benjafield. From the moment we put in and read 58 degree water temps, we knew we were in for a rodeo. And a rodeo it was.
It was as though we couldn't do anything wrong. Largemouth after largemouth. Crazy strike after crazy strike. These bass were on absolute fire as they crushed our baits with authority. We had to deal of course with the low water levels but it didn't take long to figure out how the fish were holding. Over 40 fish boated, best 5 going 23lbs+. I'm shy to even say that we probably threw back a 21lb bag as well...
Just one of those magical days that you could do no wrong and the bite was most certainly on. Maybe we'll go hunting for smallies the next time we head out...
When I was young, I used to love Easter Egg hunts. Now, I love hunting for big bass on Easter. Headed down to Lake Champlain again with good buddy, Jon Belanger(www.JonBelanger.com) to see if we could trick some cold water bass into biting. We got to the launch at about 9am and registered a satisfying 45 degree water temp. A full 6 degrees warmer than the week previous. It didn't take long to hook up as within the first few casts we hooked up on some quality smallies hanging out at the mouth of the river. Cranking silent square-billed 2" crankbaits on the ledge from 7-11ft was the trick. These smallies were surprisingly agressive and full of spunk. So much in fact that the biggest one, a 4lb+ had a really big baitfish(I think it was a crappie) still sticking out of its throat!
In the afternoon we decided to hunt down some largies but were quite disappointed to find out that they were certainly not holding very tight to any particular cover. We ended up bumping into them in deeper pools and edges not far from cover. Much deeper than anticipated but once we started to get a feel for how they were relating to the environment, the action really heated up. Best of the day came in the form of a 5lb+ specimen that absolutely inhaled a 3/8oz jig with a chigger craw trailer.
Best 5 went for about 17.5lbs with about 15 or so fish caught. Highest water temp was 47 degrees and water colour was stained. It's going to be a while before I get another chance to head out. In 2 weeks time, the bite should be on absolute fire. Thanks again Jon for a blast of a day.
Headed to Lake Champlain for the first time this year with good pal and Berkley B1 Marshall Aaron Cohen for a fun day of chuckin' & windin'. Having heard from Jon Belanger and Marc-André Barretti who had head out the day before, our expectations were extremely low to zero. Water temps were barely breaching the 40 degree mark and in contrast to last spring, water levels were lower than usual. Without having any prior data or experience of fishing Lake Champlain this early on in the season, we started at river mouths, then moved onto main and secondary points and even worked some off-shore structure. Total count? 1x perch on a crankbait. 2x small pike on a jig and grub and yes, 1x 2lb largemouth bass that came off a tiny 5/16oz finesse jig in about 6ft of water near a submerged crib. Air temps were a chilly 6 degrees all day long with calm 5Km winds and overcast skies. All in all, a difficult day as we struggled to not only find fish, but even baitfish were nowhere in sight. Hopefully the next time we head out to this body of water we'll have more favourable conditions and bigger fish to report. Thanks to Aaron for taking me out and braving the cold. We'll get 'em next time for shizzle!