I’m going to set myself for ridicule by saying that I’m a lifetime resident of New York, but I’ve probably only fished Champlain about 10 times. Now before you pummel me with stones, understand that I’m about 4 hours away from Ticonderoga and that Plattsburgh is an hour further. The fact that I’m less than two hours from Cayuga, Oneida, Ontario, St. Lawrence River, and only 3 hours from Lake Erie, should help explain a bit more why I haven’t made the trip more often. However, I recently learned that the water temp there was in the middle to upper 50s last week, which would put it about 10-15 degrees ahead of my more traditional fishing spots in Central New York, and means that prespawn jerkbait bite should be HOT. So we packed up the boat, and headed up.
Here’s the only ripple in that plan for a 100 fish day of domination: the cold front that came between that fishing report on April 17th, and our arrival on April 24th. Our sunshine and 70 degrees was replaced with snow and near freezing temperatures. What we found when we arrived was a blustering wind out of the Northwest, dirty water, and 48 degree water. Now, that’s still warmer than Oneida, but that’s a ten degree drop, which means those fishing reports of shallow, swarming wolf packs were nowhere to be found, and it was time to go to work!
Having a community
The first thing I did was reach out to one of my friends who lives near the launch in Ticonderoga. I knew that they’d been catching a lot of fish lately, so I asked her for just the basics: what depth, water temp, and were they fishing fast or slow. She told me they were in 2-4 feet, and catching them on spinnerbaits. She even told me what bay they were in, which was very kind. The bad news was that we’d picked that bay apart, and we weren’t even marking fish on our graphs. So we decided to take a break, eat a sandwich, and look at the map. We knew those fish couldn’t have gone far, and it was only a matter of trying to figure out where they went and what they were doing. If those fish were already up shallow, that means they want to be up shallow. So we looked for a place where there was deep water with access to shallow water, found a spot that looked good and went to check it out. As we rolled up on the spot we saw what looked like spaghetti on the screen. It’s loaded with fish, all of them big, but they’re in 25-30 feet of water, so there’s no telling what we’re looking at. We grab some finesse rods to check it out and BOOM! Within just a couple casts I boat that big girl up above. We catch a few more in that group, but nothing really big and the pack is thinning out on the screen.
Remember, anyone who likes my Facebook Page (click here) can send me a private message and I’ll give you any waypoint from any lake I’ve ever fished!
Technology is key
Before we move to another point my buddy picks up his jig rod and slides it up under a branch on a laydown that he’s been eyeing since we pulled up. A couple twitches and BANG! He boats our biggest fish of the day. So now we know we need areas where the fish have easy access from deep water 25-30 feet, to shallow cover. Now ordinarily that would required a lot of studying and close examination of your graph. That kind of time is really not available when you’re on the water. However, I had just gotten my new Lakemaster card from Humminbird and with just a couple easy adjustments was able to highlight all the areas similar to mine in a unique color. So now I can zoom out and see all the places on the lake that look exactly like this one. You wanna talk about a game changer… For the next hour and a half we absolutely wore them out. And all because we knew what to throw, and could just glance at the screen and see a new place to go.
We used a couple of very different presentations last week. We spent the first half of the day throwing reaction baits and caught nothing. All our fish came on two baits: a 1/2oz WhipEm Baits black and blue jig with a 4inch Torpedo Craw trailer, and a 4inch Fire Tiger Disc Worm rigged on a 3/8oz Elite Tungsten shakyhead. The deep fish wanted the worm, shallow fish wanted the jig. Both were very slow presentations. The worms were fished with a Dobyns Champion 703 SF with a Shimano Stradic and 10lb Seagur InvizX used as a leader on 10b Cortland CAM-O-ES. The jigs were fished on both the Dobyns 703C and 795FLIP, with Shimano Chronarchs, 15lb Seagur InvizX as a leader, and 20lb Cortland RZ-8 PE BRAID. High temp that day was 43 with a low of 34, winds were NNW 9-15mph with mostly cloudy conditions. Thankfully we were all geared out in Stormr from head to toe. Even my phone is Stormr ready!