Finally, the first official tourney of the year! And, my first ever walleye event. The 2012 Bay of Quinte Walleye Open got me amped to get the season started in a big way. So I packed up and headed westbound on the 401 to hook up with walleye pro Sheldon Hatch and Berkley Marketing Manager, Chris Hockley for a weekend of walleye action. The following is a video log of how this memorable adventure unfolded...
The recent string of steady weather has certainly stabilized conditions on Lake Champlain. Water temps are on the rise and the nights are getting warmer. The weeds are starting to grow and the shallows are getting more and more inhabited by baitfish, panfish and of course...predators.
On Mother's Day weekend, my good pal Benji was celebrating his birthday and asked me to join him for some birthday bassin'! We decided to attack the lake with a slightly different approach this time around. We pulled out the map and worked out a path of areas that we have yet to explore at this time of year. We targeted mostly bays that appeared sheltered and could potentially attract bass on the move towards the spawn. Water temps were in the high 50's(57-59 degrees), overcast skies and a consistant 10-15k wind from the west.
The cloud cover certainly made it very challenging to sightfish or even see into the water to identify weed growth, cover or otherwise. We spent most of our time fancasting crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits. One bait that produced some decent bites on this particular day was a weedless swimbait in the form of a Berkley Havoc Grasspig designed by bass-pro Bobby Lane. I used it to cover water in these vast weedy shallow bays and it managed to trick some thick females into biting. The second presentation that produced was a basic 1/2oz black and blue jig with a Chigger Craw as a trailer pitched to visible cover in these weedy bays such as wood or weed clumps.
Overall, we managed to boat about 24 bass, best 5 going about 19lbs. No nickels but we did have 3 fish over 4lbs. Although I am sure that we could have probably posted some better numbers if we hunkered down and really focussed on productive areas, I am content in the fact that we stuck to a plan and put in the time exploring new water and environments. Hopefully this homework leads to a better understanding of the lake that can help me out later this summer as I prep for the FLW Everstart event in July.
It finally happened. That magical day that all anglers dream about. That incredible perfect outing where you're hooking into fish all day long. But not just any fish, BIG fish. Fat nasty mean green monsters that crush your bait with very bad intentions. How crazy of a day am I talking about? How about over 120x bass boated, 25lbs+ for best 5 anchored by a 6.5lb largemouth and a 5lb+ smallie....Oh yeah, THAT kind of crazy!
I hooked up with good pal and Lake Champlain practice partner, Dobyn's Rod pro-staffer Dennis Fontaine for this Champlain adventure. Water temps read about 50 degrees with a forecasted 14 degree air temp and 15k winds from the NW. It certainly did not take long to hook up as the first cast of the day produced a decent 3lb LMB off the main point next to the launch. In fact, we would proceed to catch another 6-7 bass on cranks before we even really began our day!
With the crazy up and down we've been getting paired with the relentless North wind, the fish have been scattered and a little unpredictable. But on this particular day, it was quite evident as to how the bass were setting up. Warming water temps mean hordes of baitfish beginning to move shallow. That important shift of water temp from 50's to 60's represent an incredible opportunity, if you can figure out how to harness it. We found them on hard bottom flats, 2-4ft depth. The key was stained water colour and emerging vegetation. This combination proved fruitful throughout the lake as Dennis and I literally slayed them every time we could duplicate this pattern.
Presentation was key as well. A square-billed crankbait such as the one pictured below was the ideal weapon of choice for this scenario. Keeping constant contact with the bottom while bumping and deflecting off of structure is what triggered the bites. The fish were in feed mode and simply could not resist a tiny erratic crankbait ripping through their turf. I use a 50/50 graphite/fiberglass custom built crankbait rod handcrafted by my good pal Aaron Cohen paired with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX spooled with 12lb Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line.
Many touring pros claim that the crankbait is a big fish kinda bait. Well on this particular day, it most definitely was. Thanks Dennis for being a part of this truly memorable experience. It will be interesting to see how the pattern will change over the next few days with water temps on the rapid rise.