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
As much fun as the coves have been, we decided today that it was time for some new scenery. Josh has relatives that live on a lake known for very large crappie, we’ve done well there in the past, so we decided to make the drive. We knew it would probably be a short trip as the crappie there seem to feed the best in low light. We were on the ice by 6:30 and drilling holes shorthly after that. I grabbed my Humminbird flasher and went to check some holes for signs of life… I found what I was looking for on the very first hole. We were in 31 feet of water and I had some very nice red marks suspended at 24 feet. I sprinted back to the sled, grabbed the rod with the Lindy Rattl’n Flyer and scooped a small shiner out of the bucket as fast as I could.
It didn’t take long for the first fish. It was only 12″ or so… A nice fish for where I had been spending all of my time, but not for this lake. All 3 of us were in to fish and the sun hadn’t even cracked the horizon yet. I moved on to my third hole and marked 4 or 5 separte fish suspended again. I dropped down to them and 3 of the fish converged on the jig but just sat there staring at it. Josh came over to see what I was so excited about. They just wouldn’t eat my jig… I reeled up two turns and one fish followed but still wouldn’t eat. I reeled again and as she followed, I reeled even faster. Once I came up another 6 feet, I paused this time she smashed the jig. Aside from the obvious weight, I could feel that the head shakes were pretty big. I went easy with the fish, especially when I got close to the hole. Josh saw it first and I could tell by the tone of his voice that this was a good one. The fish became wedged in the 6″ hole and I could see that there was only one hook in her lip. I jammed my hand in the hole and gently eased her the rest of the way up. This was a new personal best by quite a bit. She taped out at just under 18″. What a fish!!! After a couple of pics, I put her back. It was actually harder getting her back in the hole than it was taking her out…
My day was made… We fished for a couple more hours and had some more nice fish, but was pretty anticlimactic. Most were over 12″ with a few at 14. Once it got bright out, the bite really died off. The fish just disappeared. We found a few holding tight to the bottom but they just stopped eating. I packed up at 9:15 and headed to work. Between the 3 of us, we iced 24 crappie, a few perch and a bass. Not bad for less than 3 hours worth of work…
Wow, what a day! Mike and I were on the ice for 10 1/2 hours today and we absolutely had a field day. It was warm with dense fog and light sprinkles all morning. With the snow melt, the river had risen close to 2 feet so I expected to have issues getting on the ice and had brought my waders just in case. That wasn’t necessary, the edges of the cove were fine. The ice was a solid 6″ but there was quite a bit of standing water in places. The main goal was to finally ice a pike on the cove and to keep us uccupied between flags, we were going to jig a near by log crib that I had found. Again, the tip ups were dead slow. We checked them often as it was impossible to keep an eye on them in the thick fog. As it turns out, Mike got the only fish of the day on a tip up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pike… It turned out to be a huge pickerel.
With the day that we had jigging, I couldn’t have cared less about the tip ups. We reopened my old holes on the crib and were instantly in to fish. For the entire day we fished an area no bigger than 15 x 15. At first we caught a lot of crappie but then as it got lighter out, it changed to more perch than crappie. The fish just kept coming. I was amazed at the overall size of the fish. The majority of our perch were over 11″, with some close to 14″. The crappie were even more impressive. We had many over 12″. Mike jigged up a monster 15″ fish!
We caught on Slick Jigs, Frostees, Rattl’n Flyers and Darters. The Darters accounted for most of the bigger, more aggressive fish. On the Humminbird flasher, you could watch the fish fly in up off of the bottom towards the jig. The bigger fish would hit it right away. The smaller ones would slowly fade back to the bottom. Thats when we grabbed a second rod with a smaller lure tipped with just a spike. Almost every time, the fish would come right back and hit the more subtle presentation.
We kept hammering away at them. We decided to keep a mess of the larger ones for a couple of meals. We ended up taking just over 40 fish home for dinner. The electric fillet knife made quick work of them… I wish every time out was that productive!
Here is a video of some of the action from today:
I’ve been loving the new sled! It’s made thing so much easier setting up and tearing down, or when I just want to go light. Now that I’ve been fishing the coves on the Ct River every day, I’ve been spending a lot of time jigging crappie. They’ve been pretty thick on the log cribs and brush piles. Once you find them, you are usually pretty busy. I was never happy with my hand held GPS. It had way too much lag time and didn’t zoom in far enough whichmade it impossible to get right on the tructure you were looking for. Wel… I fixed that…
I took my Humminbird 1197 and mounted it to the sled. I bought an extra set of cables and transducer along with a ram mount. It has made things so much easier to locate the cribs ad brush piles. The GPS is dead nuts on and I’ve found some smaller piles by sticking the side imaging transducer in the hole and rotating it slowly. The 1197 made all the difference today… I jigged for a few hours andhammered the crappie, bluegill and sunnies. I had so much fun, I’ll be back out tonight after 6.
A last minute decision was made at the shop to fish the cove for the night bite last night. I was really hoping to find a walleye or two. We know they are ther but no one has spent any time targeting them. Now I know where NOT to set up… Overall, it was pretty slow and steady. We set up in 11-14 feet of water near some brush piles I had found in the fall. We all jigged and set up tip ups. Everybody caught, but I was hoping for better. Mike and Gary stayed in their shanties jigging and did well, I stayed outside and moved around a lot with the Humminbird and rod. I didn’t catch as many but was happy with the size. The group caught perch, bass, crappie, bluegill and pondies.
I hit White Oaks again this morning for a few hours before the storm. Set out the usual 5 tip ups for pike but the real goal was to find some brush piles and jig some crappie. I mounted my 1197 to the sled and was able to power it off of my Ice 45 battery. It sure is nice having a GPS that is so accurate… I fished the closest pile to where I parked. It was a good sized brush pile tha measures roughly 10 x 7 and is close to 3 feet high in places. It was a slow pick there but I managed a few bass, perch and crappie.
The wind started picking up and the skies got dark, I figured I was running out of time before the storm hit so I picked up and moved to a pile in deeper water. I walked about 5 mintes straigt to a way point I had created in the boat over a brush pile. I stopped where the Humminbird said the pile would be and drilled a hole. to check. Ther it was, in 20 feet of water. One hole and I was right on top of it and was marking fish. As soon as I dropped down, I was on fish. I stayed there for the better part of an hour and had close to 2 dozen crappie. None were more than 11″ though. I’m not sure where all the big ones went that we caught on November, I suspect they are spread out and suspended over the deeper water. No pike on the tip ups but the jigging made for a great morning… If I can get out of my driveway in the morning, I’ll be looking again tomorrow… Here is a quick video I took from the hot hole today:
With safe ice on all the coves, I decided I was way overdue for a trip to my favorite cove on the river. I was drilling holes by 6:30. I set up 5 Heritage tip ups with big dead baits I had jigged up last Sunday. I put them along the shoreline in 5 to 10 feet of water. As always, I jigged as I waited for a flag to pop. I drilled a line and then checked each hole with the Humminbird Ice 45. When I marked a fish, I jigged. I caught a few quick perch this way. As I moved all around, I stumbled across a brush pile. Sure enough, there were fish on it. I dropped down and instantly caught a huge bluegill. I peppered the imedite area with holes and marked the holes that had brush under them. The pile ended up being close to 10′ x 10′ and was 4 feet high in areas. I spent the rest of the morning on that pile jigging sunnies, crappie, bass, and perch. All of the fish came o a Lindy Rattlin’ Flyer tipped with spikes. I was tempted to call the shop and tell them I would be late… Oh well… The pile will be there when I go back. Not a single flag all morning, but that’s pike fishing with big baits. A lot of waiting but incredibly rewarding when your name is fiinally called! Here are a few pics: