Tip: if you are having a tough time getting micros to hold onto a fly long enough to hook, stick a tiny piece of soft plastic lure on there. It doesn't have to be scented, just give them something to chew on. Or, just tie flies for micros that use rubber as the primary material. thread and a piece of rubber band is often enough.
|Life list #78, Cyprinella spiloptera|
We moved a little further down the lake (North. The water here runs north to the St. Lawrence) and looked found a great, sprawling weed bed on a moderate depth flat. The wind died, it got warm, the clouds stayed put. Bowfin rolled all over. This was it. I was about to have one of the best days of streamer fishing big water I've ever had.
The pike were there. The pickerel were there. The largemouth were there. And they were all over slow sinking, flashy streamers and spinnerbaits.
For hours, every drift produced something cool. We had so much ground we could cover that there was always un-fished water, but setting up the same drifts repeatedly always produced too. One drift would produce a few pickerel. The next all bass. The next a couple pike. My hits were all jarring and visually impressive, and though the pike weren't big, I've never had a day like this where I just hammered them. I caught 18 pike, had four bite offs, and lost a few others. Unfortunately one of the four that bit me off were in the high 30 inch range and another was probably 40. But catching six times more pike than I had in my entire fly fishing carrier in one day was just awesome.
Most people fish Champlain for its bass. Noah and I both like bass fishing, but we have kind of the same mindset that it would be immensely boring to just bass fish all the time. This year I have hardly targeted largemouth at all, and for me they have become by-catch. We weren't here for largemouth, but that didn't mean we were annoyed when we caught them, we every much enjoyed hooking and boating them. I very much wish that some of the bass anglers on Champlain and elsewhere would treat their by-catch with the same respect. I have heard too many stories of anglers breaking off gars' jaws and releasing them alive, clubbing bowfin on the bank, and leaving dead pike and pickerel in the water. That's wrong. Absolutely unacceptable.
Noah ended up getting a couple trophies fishing this spot. The first was the only bowfin either of us caught, and it was a monster. The only reason we didn't catch more is that sight fishing wasn't really possible. We could see lots of bowfin gulp air, but you have to see them in the water for a good presentation in this kind of water. Noah actually saw one, hooked it, and it was a monster.
Want to catch stupidly big pumpkinseeds? Fish Lake Champlain! Noah's other trophy was the biggest damn pumpkinseed I have ever seen. The photo doesn't do it justice. It was so big it was funny.
We probably quit later than we should have. The drive home was dark and dangerously wet. But we absolutely just left them eating there. I simply cannot wait to fish Champlain again, hopefully during better weather.
Freshwater drum and longnose gar: I have a very specific set of skills. I have acquired those skills over a short but obsessive career. Skills that make me a nightmare for fish like you.
I will look for you. I will find you. And I will catch and release you.
(NOTE: I forgot about it while writing this, but one of the pike I caught on this day buried a size 2 hook well past the barb while I was unhooking it. ALWAYS have heavy braided line, pliers, and antiseptic if you are going to use flies or lures with more than one hook and bring angry, toothy fish into a kayak or boat.)