Lake Champlain update 7/11/18
Lake Champlain has been ideal the last few weeks. I’ve been on the Lake a ton since the Ditch Pickle Classic and here’s an update and what I’m seeing.
The water levels continues to drop as we are in the tail end of a heat wave and in normal Summer levels. The spots that I focus on in the Spring for all kinds of fish are almost dried up but some of them are still holding Bass, Bowfin and Carp.
The biggest factor on the big Lake for me is the wind. Clarity is second. Sometimes it’s calm and sunny in Middlebury and by the time I get to my destination the wind has kicked up and it’s rocking. Huge waves and a driving wind make it near impossible to target fish from a kayak, canoe or small boat. So it’s good to know several small bays. Sometimes 10 minuets away you can find a sheltered area that is calm.
With so many kinds of fish to target in Champlain it can be tough to decide what to chase each time out. I have made a fly box just for the lake. It has flies for Bass (topwater and streamers), Pike, Carp, Sheephead and Gar. I often have two rods rigged up incase something different swims by me. For example on Sunday I was in Charlotte and hunkered down and making long cast with an 8wt at about a dozen Carp. I was using various little nymphs with a 10’ leader that was 10# test. I noticed mixed in with them a huge Bowfin. It came up and grabbed some air then went back under water. It was much darker then the Carp and of course a different shape. I dropped my rod and grabbed the other one. It has a 35” piece of 40# mono directly off the sink tip. I pitched a Kevin Ramirez White Drunk Dad past the Predator. I slowly pulled the fly towards the business end. Without hesitation the beast smashed the streamer. Instantly it did a massive backflip and then tore off through the Lilly Pads. After a short but intense battle I got him in the net. It ended up being 30” and super thick. If I didn’t have that rod setup I would not have caught that fish. Possibly it would of hit the Nymph? I had one look at a Hex pattern once but if it did it would of snapped my 10# leader with out a doubt. Bowfin are one of my favorite fish to target and it’s all sight fishing!
The Bass fishing has been outstanding all over the lake. I’ve had luck using various topwater flies at dusk which is a blast. However in calm clear water I’ve also had great success also sight fishing for them.
In the shallows bays among the Lilly Pads as I’m standing up in my Jackson Kayak Big Rig hunting Bowfin I’ll sometimes have shots at Bass that are in the same zones. I use the same flies for both.
For Smallmouths I look around Islands, points, ledge drops offs and rocky shore lines. If the wind is just right I can make long drifts and drop heavy Crayfish patterns, jig flies and streamers like the Meat Whistle and Drunk Dad right into them. Sometimes a sneaky Rock Bass or Yellow Perch will
grab them first.
You never know when a Gar will show up. Caught this one on the Otter within sight of the Lake. It’s crazy that with them you need a rope fly. When they smack it apply steady pressure but don’t set the hook. It’s hard not too especially when these fish get over 50”!
As far as guiding we take folks out in the lake mostly in the smaller bays between Addison and Burlington. We use canoes or a small non motorized boat. Lake Champlain is international water so only folks with a captains license can use motorized boats for guiding. Some areas we fish by walk and wading.
I’ve noticed the water temps have varied big time. Some bays the water is 76-80 degrees in the first few inches as you push off. Much cooler as the water gets deeper. Then other areas like Button Bay was 65 degrees on Saturday.
Clarity is key unless you are blind fishing large colorful streamers and or throwing topwater. In general the Shoreham/ Bridport zone is muddy and very hard for sight fishing. Ferrisburg, Charlotte, Burlington and all the way North to Canada under normal conditions is clear. Much better for looking for big fish.
Good luck and be safe! Always
wear that life jacket. Everyday is a little different and the weather can change quick on the lake. (BC)