After weeks of high, cold, dirty water if finally looks as if our striper season is starting to crank up here in the Connecticut River. Normal flows in the Hartford area are usually around 3 to 4 feet. As you can see, we’ve been well above that for quite some time. The water is warmin up, we’ve had 48 to 49 in the main stem with temps over 60 in some the coves. The alewives are in pretty thick in places and finally some bigger stripers are on the hunt!
After closing up Conneticut Outfitters for the day, Mike swung by and picked me up at 6:30 and we headed out for the night bite. The river was barely launchable where we were, but we managed to get the boat in the river. We headed straight to the mouth of a creek that has a decent run of alewives. There the water was much cleaner and warmer than the main river. We immediately saw signs of life. I tied on a 9″ Reaction Strike Revolution Shad and began fan casting the area. On the second cast, I had a big wake come up behind the lure and follow it for 20 feet back to the boat. This happened several times without getting a hit. We weren’t worried, the lures were the perfect immitation of an alewife, we just needed it to get a bit darker out. As it began to get dark, we could see and hear stripers smashing bait on top… It was only a matter of time…
I have no idea what time, but it was good and dark out, we began getting hits. It was just a slow and steady retrieve with an occassional twitch. The hits were vicious! We threw lots of different lures from soft plastics to wood… Bombers, pencils, spooks, Slug-Go’s, Houdini’s and danny’s but in the end, all of our fish came on the big Revo Shads.
It was a great night on the water, no wind at all and no bugs (yet). It got chilly towards the end but we were dressed for it. Here are a couple of pics of the two largest fish for the night.
I had the chance to join the crew lastnight on Squantz and jumped on it. We met at 7:30 at the ramp and were in the water by 8. The shocking is most always done at night as the fish are shallow and easy to spot in the floodlights. Our target for sampling were largemouth, smallmouth, trout and walleye.
I was a newbie to the shocking surveys and was surprised at how structured the surveys are. It makes sense that there needs to be a consistent survey though so that the samples can be compared over previous years. Water clarity is measured (we has a little less than 6 feet), water temp and weather conditions are noted. We had very specific zones, each zone received exactly 500 seconds of shocking. The probes hang off the bow of the boat and cover roughly a 10×10 area. A generator runs and builds up a charge that is then passed into the water by stepping on a pedal for a determined number of seconds. The boat is bumped in and out of gear and creeps along the shoreline at a crawl.
Two of us stand on the bow with long handled nets and scoop up the stunned fish. The fish are dropped in a livewell to recover and two technicians take them out one at a time. Sex is determined, the fish are measured and a scale sample taken. At that point the fish are returned to the lake and swim off under their own power. There is a counter that tracks the total number of seconds that the probes are in use. 500 seconds was the limit last night, at that point we make our way on to the next zone.
We had walleye everywhere and BIG ones! It was tough to keep up with them as they appeared out of the murky water. We were scooping 4 and 5 at a clip and dropping them in the livewells. In one spot we had close to 30 fish in the well and the techs were doing their best to keep up with us.
Taking scale samples
Big walleye… Almost 30″
Fast and furious
I had a blast. It was great to see how the studies are done. We wrapped up jut a bit before midnight and sampled well over 100 fish. There were quite a few smallies, a couple of big largemouths and some beautiful browns in the mix. Most often we were with spitting distance of the shore and in less than 4 feet of water. I was amazed at how many big fish were in so tight to shore. Thanks to the DEP for the invite, I had a great time!!!
It’s been tough to find much time to fish these days with Connecticut Outfitters being so busy, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. Mike met me at the house around 6:30 tonight and we loaded the gear in my truck and headed out in the monsoon. Another inch or so of rain is forecsat for tonight. The main river is cranking and dirty in our area so we went to a creek that I had found alewife in earlier in the week. I knew the water would be high but at least there would be some visibility…
I had a decent fish roll on my Revo Shad on my very first cast but he never came back again. There were plenty of alewives around, I actually snagged one as he was trying to mate with the lure on the retrieve.
I played with a couple of other lures and sizes as it got darker but finally tied on a black and purple Bomber… That’s what the wanted. I only got one fish to the bank but dropped another and missed 3 other fish. It sure felt good to get the dust off the rod. It only gets better from here!
I haven’t posted a report in a while, I feel like I’m in a rut lately… Crappie, crappie, crappie. Tough to complain when we ae catching slobs every time out but I need to change things up a little.
This morning was more of the same. Same place, same depth, same pattern, same results. We were fishing Lindy Rattl’n Flyers tipped with fatheads. Most fish were in 32 feet of water suspended between 20 and 24 feet down. Some of the hits were extremely aggressive with fish flying in and pounding the jig, other hits were very light.
The conditions were MUCH better today with ZERO snow on the ice. The last couple of days really helped things out. I measured 13″ of ice, half was white, the rest was clear and black. I checked White Oaks on the way home and was thrilled to find that I could down the access road again. I may finally get to fish it on Wednesday for the first time in almost 3 weeks!
I’ve got crappie on the brain lately… Most of my local spots are no longer accessible due to unplowed roads and ramps, so I made the 40 mile drive to a lake that I knew I could get on. There is a good 18″ of snow on the ground but once you hit the ice, it was less than 10″ in most areas. Justin and I met at Connecticut Outfitters at 5 and headed out. Unlike previous trips, this morning took a while to find the fish. I think I drilled close to 30 holes before I started marking suspended fish. Justin was at a huge disadvantage without electronics. I told him the depth I was marking fish at and he adjusted as best he could. My Humminbird took all the guess work out of it and I was into fish pretty consistently. Between the 2 of us, we had about a dozen and a half fish with a couple of slobs in the mix. Here is my biggest… No meaurment but I’m guessing 17″ or so.
Mike and I have been fishing a nice crappie lake along the shoreline recently. The bite is great early but dies off after 8 every morning. This time, we decided to get down there earlier to see if we could have a longer bite, we met at CT Outfitters a little before 4am and headed south. We found the fish in the same general area, suspended at 20-24 feet over 30 feet of water. We walked from hole to hole with the Humminbird flashers until we fish.. It didn’t take long at all to start catching. Sometimes there would be a solitary fish but most times, there were several. The competition for food made them pretty aggressive at times. In this first picture, you can clearly see two more fish showing on the screen… There were lots of quality fish. Many were over 14″. Mike and I were joking that a fish like that on the coves would be picture worthy but on this pond, it wasn’t worth pulling the camera out.
Sometime around dawn, Mike stuck a huge fish. The rod was doubled over and line was coming off the reel. I never thought it was a crappie the entire time he was fighting it and was stunned we it came to the hole. It was a gorgeous 18″ crappie that was incredibly well fed! A couple of quick pics and se went back down the hole. Mike has promised to try to smile for the pics inte future…
We kept plugging away with decent sized fish, but as usual, things slowed again after 8. Today we had a little more time and decided to move around to see if we could figure out where they went. I drilled a line of holes spaced every 25 feet or so. I would drill 10 holes and check with flasher. We found a fish every once in a while but kept moving. About a 1/4 mile later, we started coming up a ledge. The water went from 31 feet to 23 quickly, suddenly we began marking fish at nearly every drop of the transducer. In the next hour, we caught at least 15 fish with several over 15″. We ran out of time and had to pack up around 10:30. As we walked back to where we had started, we noticed that Mike had a flag up. There was no telling how long it had been up… When Mike picked it up, every last inch of line had been run off and all that was left was the knot on the spool. Mike set the hook and fought the fish. 75 yards of line later, Mike had a nice 4 pound bass to the hole… Note the empty spool in the picture…
I had a few hours to kill this morning and Justin and I had been talking about getting back to Winding Trails… I picked him up at 6, we met Ryan there and were fishing by 6:30. It was still snowing pretty hard but with no real wind, it was very comfortable. We were targeting bluegill on a weed bed in 8 to 11 feet of water. Things started a bit slow but as it got lighter out, things got going pretty good. I got all of my fish on Lindy Frostees tipped with a spike. There were a few slammers in the mix long with some real nice crappie. Justing had the big crappie of the day, measuring 14″. I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but was off the ice around 9:30 to get to work.
After seeing the weather forecast last night, I decided to stay home this morning. At least that was the plan… I was wide awake before 5 and bored out of my mind by 7. I got my stuff together and was on the ice by 8.
By the time I pulled the shanty out on to the cove, the snow had stopped and a heavy sleet was falling. I went light today, no tip ups… Just 3 rods, flasher and hand auger along with a a Frabill Recon. I was able to reopen some old holes with minimum effort. It was a slow start, I was beginning to wonder if I was wasting my time. I don’t normally fish in a shanty, I like to move around too much but I had a couple of hot holes that kept me in place for a while. It was nice in the Recon. No wind, no sleet, no gloves… The first couple of fish were small perch, then the bluegill moved in heavy and then the crappie. The crappie moved in all at once and each one got a bit bigger. I dropped a big one at the hole when the lure got stuck on the bottom of the hole. Before I could reel down and stick my tip down, she was gone. It would have been a heck of a fish for the river… Oh well.
The sleet had slowed down just before 10 so I left the comfort of the Recon and roamed around opening my old holes. There weren’t as many fish out in the deeper water, but the crappie were of decent size. I had close to a dozen in total. I didn’t stay much longer, as it had finally started to rain. It was instantly freezing to everything and made it very hard to read the screen on the flasher. I was off the ice by 10:30. Not a bad couple of hours on a day I wasn’t planning to fish…
Went south this morning to my favorite crappie lake. There is still a ton of snow on the ground and it is exhausting pulling a sled through 18″ of snow, especially when tere is a steep hill involved.. I met Mike and Josh at Connecticut Outfitters at 5:30 and we stripped our gear down to the bare minimum and packed into a single sled.
We had 15 degrees and no wind to start. There was the expected amount of snow on the ground but the ice had only a couple of inches on it, the rest o the snow hd soaked throuh and froze solid. We were now fishing on 12″ of ice compared to 7 last week. We had our holes drilled by 6:30 and just like last time, we were marking fish right away. We started in 31 feet of water and had most of our fish suspended a th 20-24 foot range. Mike scored first with a massive fish. She hit a Lindy Rattl’n Flyer tipped with a shiner…
Things slowed a bit after Mikes fish. We were marking quite a few and they would come right up to the lures but they just wouldn’t eat. We tried all the usual tricks and caught only a few smaller ones over the next half an hour. We had an awesome sunrise this morning. It started off as a faint glow that steadily got brighter and brighter…
We tag teamed the auger and drilled a bunch more holes to extend our fishing area, must have done 100 holes on the morning. We were finally rewarded for our efforts when we started marking fish at the same depths, just farther out into the lake. I had a hole where I banged 6 fish in a row. One of them was a decent fish, the rest were in the 10 to 12″ range.
We hopped around quite a bit after that. Things really slowed after 9, and eventually we stopped marking anything at all. Not sure how many we caught all together but it was a great 3 hours. I made it to work early and Mike headed out on his own to Coventry for the afternoon bite
Winter storm Benedict has really put a dent in my ice fishing. Enough was enough, I had to get back out onthe river! After 2 days of work to cut a 2 mile trail through the woods, I finally made it back to the cove. There were areas with snow half way up my thigh. The truck was able to make some decent headway, but without significant ground clearance, I would get stuck quite a bit. I’d shovel the truck out and pack the trail down behind me to get up a head of steam and hit it again… A lot of work but fun.
With a passable trail, Mike and I hit the cove again. I had hoped that the snow had soaked and refrozen, but it was still a mess. There was a good 18″ of snow sitting on the ice and the second we punched holes , the ice flooded. It was a soupy mess for most of the morning but we dealt with it and caught a mess of fish. We got on one of the cribs again and had a field day with panfish. Mostly bluegill, but there were yellow perch, white perch and a few good crappie too