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....