Lake Champlain out of Ticonderoga 7/20 – 7/22
Had a good time as usual up on Champlain with my buddy Mike. We arrived on Tuesday early PM to find quite a few “wrapped” bass boats at the launch. Mike Iaconelli’s rig was there amongst others. As usual, there was going to be a tournament going on – the BASS Northern Open, which started yesterday (7/22.)
We took the Ferry across the lake (since we were staying at Sportsman’s Cottage near Crown Point and the bridge is out!) and launched at Larabees just across and S. of the Ferry landing. We tried a couple “new” areas and wound up fishing a neckdown area where I’d caught a big pike a couple years ago. We looked across from us and saw Tim Horton’s bass boat pull up – so it felt good to be working some of the same areas the pros like to fish. We wound up catching a 4 or 5 nice fish on our first evening. I caught a couple on crankbaits and Mike got some on a green pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craw as well as a Woolly Hawgtail. The drop from around 8′ to 12′ was where we had our luck. Mike also caught a scrawny pike. No sign of any gar.
On Day 2 we launched out of Benson Landing at around 9:30 am (this getting up late is probably a huge mistake, but it is vacation) – probably a 30 minute drive from the Cottages and a 6 mile boat ride from Ti. Mike and I are both big fans of Rich Zaleski and his great website/blog at www.richz.com and his blog at www.richz.com/fishing/blog Rich wrote for “Fishing Facts” magazine in the 1970s and 80s and then In-Fisherman and North American Fishing Club later. He’s a terrific bass fisherman and his blog is full of good tips. We were interested in fishing some of the water chestnut in LC – most of which is found south of Benson Landing. It’s considered a noxious weed, but bass do hang in and around it. Rich does well in it and has a good article on it on his site.
My hat’s off to Mike on this trip – he really did a number on the bass! I just don’t bass fish nearly as much as I’d like, and my tackle is always in some disarray, but Mike really has it together. It didnt take long before we started putting a nice pattern together around the chestnut. Mike pulled a couple solid fish off of a chestnut area using plastic worms and some of his creature type baits. We both had bite-offs incl. Mike – who had a “chewer bite-off” – likely a bowfin. My buddy Jarrod noticed that when you get a panfish type of pulsating hit – and hook a big fish or have a bite-off, it’s usually a fin. We worked some areas around the weedharvesters (another Zaleski tip) and it paid off.
We didn’t stick with any one pattern for long. We kept trying new areas – using my electronics helped as always. We had a hard time finding areas we couldn’t catch bass in! Nearly everywhere we fished, we caught bass – with Mike usually doing the most damage on the fish. We worked South Bay and the mouth of it – more bass for both of us and a pike for me. Fish came on plastics and spinnerbaits for the most part. No real slobs. We probably wound up with 20 to 25 bass on Day 2, around 1/3rd being decent 1.5 to 3lb fish – all caught in new areas to us and a lot caught around “the nut” – which was a new thing. After a couple trips we finally started unlocking the patterns of Ti!
We quit after seeing a flash of lightning and just getting a feeling that it was time to quit. The “feeling” proved right as we arrived at the launch (with a local tourney going on) and watched as a scary sort of T-storm started moving towards us. Ti is like the Finger Lakes (southern portions) with high hills; T-storms can be on top of a fisherman in no time. My truck was surrounded by trailers in the overflowing parking lot and it was a royal pain getting out my rig. By the time I had gotten in my truck, bass boats were swarming the launch area waiting to pull out. We made it just in time! The first boat out and the lightning and very heavy rain started going crazy all around us. We probably received an inch of rain in 20 minutes. Strong lightning was striking fairly close by. Nasty, yet pretty cool!
On Day 3 (first tourney day) we took the Ferry back across to Ti and then dumped in around 10 am. Now that we’ve got plenty of good areas, next year we’ll think about launching at dark thirty and quitting earlier in the day, but it’s hard to motivate on vacation. We fished areas between Ti and Benson Landing. We saw where some of the pros were fishing, which was cool. Fishing was decent with more bass coming on worms (Mike again) and a dink or two on a spinnerbait. I caught another healthier pike on a hollow bodied swim bait, but the plastics and jigs were the way to go. We found fish as shallow as 4′ of water. No slobs again – but a couple 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb fish. A fun trip and most importantly we learned a LOT! Can’t wait for the next one and I can’t wait to see how we do early in the morning. As my clients know, missing the AM bite can be painful.