Lake Champlain out of Ticonderoga/Crown Point 9/2 – 9/4


Lake Champlain:

Day 1:  Had a great time with my friend Mike on Champlain. We were hoping for monster gar (I was optimistic that the hot weather of the last couple weeks would keep them around the surface) and some largemouths on top. We didn’t get what we wanted, but what we got wasn’t bad at all. We arrived at around 3 pm on Tuesday to a fairly empty boat launch at “Ti”. We motored right to one of my favorite gar hotspots and didn’t see a single one. Topwater bassin’ only provided a few barely legal and sublegal bass. We covered a bit of water then checked into the Sportsmen’s Cottages at Crown Point in Vermont.

Day 2: We got out around 9 am (this is vacation!) and headed back out. We worked an area a friend had suggested. We spotted a few small gar – not the fish we came to Champlain for. We kept trying for shallow, slop oriented bass. Water temps were around 75! Warm. There was bait and young bluegills/sunfish present in the shallows, but not a lot (at this point in time.) We worked the shallows throughout the trip – hoping for a “frog bite” but it didn’t happen. We moved out to some deeper water and started working crankbaits. I had a solid hit and after a strong battle landed a healthy looking pike @ 38 1/2″ – probably 13 to 14lbs! A very nice fish! After releasing the pike we continued working the cranks and checking the shallows. Nada.

We fished hard, working a lot of different areas. We caught some legal bass, but nothing special. We worked around a marina and saw one decent 3lb fish but it chased half heartedly and didn’t grab. We did catch and see some bass around the marina in shallow, but again, nothing great. We tried a creek and caught small bass and pickerel. After trying and giving up (again!) on the frogs and topwater, we decided to do more deep cranking. I took a cast around a steep dropping shore that Mike wanted to work. I got distracted (maybe picking out a backlash) and had a quality 2.7lb (guessing) bass whack my crank on top! Ironic, isn’t it? A day and a halftrying topwater – we go to deep cranks and I get whacked on top. Mike then hooked andlost a beauty on a crank – a solid bass of at least 4lbs that fought wildly. It may have been even bigger. We were in 18′ of water casting slightly shallower. We had a couple more hits then saw a disturbance. My cast resulted in another beast of a northern – another 38.5″ fish – but thinner. Beautiful pike with the same colors the big gar have around “Ti”. Kind of faded – greyish/white. Another small bass or two and we headed back in for food and a couple cold ones.

Day 3: We launched at the town of Crown Point. We’d been comparing notes with our neighbors at the cottages and they’d done well on Day 1 fishing shallow water (bordering deep water) with Senkos. They had a slow Day 2 highlighted by an 8lb bowfin! We headed out and again tried some surface stuff. Nada. I nailed a nice 2lb+ fish on a spinnerbait. Then I used my electronics to mark some weeds coming up around 5′, in 10′ to 12′ of water. We cast various lures and worked a fairly non-descript area. I landed a couple more quality largemouths – 2lb to 2.5lb fish. Trying a popular area, but away from shore resulted in a wild fight from an 18″+ smallmouth that was at least 3lbs. A spinnerbait fooled the smallie, and cranks the largemouths.

Overall we had a very nice trip. Teamwork kept both of us thinking and fishing hard. We both knew early on that we were going to push the topwater thing. When I first fished Champlain around 5 years ago, we had tremendous frog fishing in late September. By AM of Day 2 I knew we’d probably do better in 8′ to 12′ of water or more. That depth was key for the big northerns and I’m convinced we could have caught more by patterning those areas – basically steep dropping channels near shore bordering weedbeds. We didn’t spend all that much time on them – instead we kept working new and different areas. Shallow bass were either non-existent, or more likely just inactive. The lack of reaction bites made me think that there weren’t many big fish shallow in the areas we worked, but I may have been wrong. The amount of bait and active gills in shallow made us think we could do well there. Like on the Finger Lakes (and Black Lake a couple years ago) the key areas in late summer/early fall were either the transition from shallow flats to deep water (with submergent vegetation) or just steep dropping banks. Another day on Champlain would have been great! We’ll be back there next June or July looking for monster gar and bass.