Lake Champlain Report
The bite is heating up right now on Lake Champlain. June has proven to be a great month to cast a fly at a variety of different species and we are excited to see the fishing continue to get better and for new opportunities that will present themselves during the month of July. Species we have recently been targeting are Northern Pike, Bowfin, Large and Smallmouth Bass, and Freshwater Drum. Also in the mix are perch, pumpkinseed, blue gill, and crappie.
We have had our best luck during the early morning and early evening hours between Sunrise and 9:00 am and 6:00 pm until dark. We have found large numbers of Largemouth Bass in shallow, weedy bays and the fish have been hanging around where weeds meet deeper, darker water or in little patches of water between lily pads and weed beds. The majority of fish have been eating poppers that resemble anything from frogs to gurgler patterns. Make sure to play around with the speed and intensity of your top water disturbing, which will ensure you key into what the fish want. We have also found Smallmouth bass in deeper, rocky areas and focus on water that is around 10-15 feet deep where you can still see the bottom. We have a mix of fish on beds and swimming around searching in the larger, deeper bays and we recommend using a long leader with a heavy fly or a sinking fly line to get your flies down deep. Flies that have been working well are Clouser Minnows, Guide Kevin Ramirez’s “Drunk Dad”, Crayfish patterns, and anything with dumbbell eyes. Make sure to strip these slow and let them bounce off the bottom and make sure to watch for your fly as it comes towards the surface.
My two favorite species to target are Bowfin and Freshwater Drum also known as “Sheepshead.” Since this is predominately done by sight fishing the best times are during the middle of sunny days. While targeting Bowfin I recommend finding shallow weedy areas and visibly sight fishing for them, while actively looking for any fish that breach the surface for air. Once you are in plain sight of the fish and it stays put they will crush just about any subsurface fly put in front of them. Freshwater Drum can be found cruising in similar areas that smallies will hang out in. If you haven’t seen these fish before they have larger, tan-ish white colored bodies and yellow fins and range from 4lbs to over 20lbs. If you manage to get one on the fly hold on for a ride and look for fish that are actively eating and grazing the bottom.
Northern Pike have also been in abundance this spring and have started to move into deeper sections of the lake and its tributaries. Make sure to target banks, logjams, or rogue structure in rivers, or cast along deep weed lines in search of these toothy predators. Flies that have been working well are in the 4-6 inch range and include Kevin Ramirez’s “Rotax” fly and Pat Cohen patterns like the “Manbearpig” mini version. Don’t discount the chance of finding one crushing a popper as well and you can find smaller fish still lurking in shallow inland bays among the bass and lily pad’s.
Good luck out there and happy fishing.