Lake Champlain Report – 7/18/2017
The Lake is still pretty high (98′) for this time of year and cool at 69 degrees. Since July 4th I’ve been out in my Jackson Kayak Big Rig several times. Part of the reason I’ve been hitting it so often is with all the big rain storms since mid June the rivers have been blown out quite a few times. The other reason, I love sight fishing for big fish! The Lake is full of big fish that are a real challenge on a fly rod and once hooked will battle like crazy. At dusk, I change over and start throwing topwater flies for Bass. Top water fishing can be addictive especially when your throwing deer Hair flies that looks like a Duck!
Mostly I’ve been catching Bowfin. 4 this month over 28″ which VT considers to be of master class size. One was probably a personal best that was 32″ and ultra fat. They are an ambush predator that once hooked will cartwheel into the thick stuff. They are not for the faint of heart! If you are interested in checking it out we guide for them, check out our VT Canoe fishing option on the rates and services pages.
Also I have been trying to get my first Carp on the fly in my kayak. I’ve had 5 or 6 eats recently but two broke off and the others came unbuttoned after a fierce battle. They are so spooky and move in and out of the thick Lilly Pads and Grass areas that its hard to get shots at them. They are everywhere and it’s easy to find them but getting one to stick around long enough to even cast to one is a challenge.
So as I’m paddling along while standing up and looking into the water for big fish (polarized sun glass are key) I have two fly rods rigged up. One for Carp and the other for Bowfin. Also I have a few Gar flies within reach. The other day I was watching 3 Bowfin swim along the shoreline in and out of tree roots. The Lake is so high that it’s still flooded into forest in some areas. Anyway I was waiting for them to come off the edge into deeper water so I could have a shot at them. All of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I see a maybe 40″ Gar swimming my way. I instantly bit off my Bowfin streamer and tied on a Kevin Ramirez rope fly. I casted about 6′ in front of the Gar. I let the fly sink a bit and stripped it aggressively in front of the big Gar. It showed interest but wouldn’t hit it. I watched it swim away. I paddled slowly behind it and recasted a few more times. After several minutes I gave up. I did get a great photo of it looking at the fly but again it just wouldn’t eat. Pretty cool experience though.
At dark as I mentioned I like to then start targeting Bass with topwater flies. If you like catching Trout on dry flies then you have try Bass as well. It’s commonly called the toilet bowl flush when they take a fly off the surface. Or sometimes they just explode so hard on it that they miss. You keep your fly right where it was and wait like 30 seconds. Twitch the fly and wham it gets rocked again.
Also at dark I’ve been spotting Sheephead coming into the shallows to feed. A few nights ago I saw one. I quickly clipped off my topwater Frog pattern and put on a mini Crayfish. I pitched it right in front of the Sheephead and wham it smashed it. I set the hook hard and it charged into the thick grass. I pulled it out and it went back into the lake. I got it all the way back and just missed it sith the net. When that happened it charged out into the lake super fast and actually pulled my kayak for a bit then the hook pulled. They are such a hard fighting fish and some get massive! I’m still trying to get my first one on a fly.
So lots of reasons to be hitting the lake these days. The rivers are also back in great shape. Will get an actual river report asap. I did catch a nice 35″ Pike on Friday in the Otter. I haven’t fished for Trout in a while. A bunch of our guides and friends fished Sunday and had a fun little tournament. They got into tons of Trout. I’ll get some pictures, water temps and hot flies posted up very soon.