Lake Champlain Fishing Report July 19, 2019

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Taken from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Newsletter - July 19, 2019

Lake Champlain Fishing Report July 19, 2019

Cold Water Species - Brian Ames of Putney, a past Fish and Wildlife Board member, is a self-declared Lake Champlain novice but says he did pretty well fishing for salmon and lake trout out of Chimney Point with his wife Sherry. They started trolling about three miles north of the bridge with two lead core lines and one down rigger. They caught several salmon and lakers on the downriggers. Salmon came from riggers set at 35' deep while lake trout were caught 80' down. The lucky lure was a 3½" Mooselook Wobbler in Wonderbread color. Brian caught one salmon he estimated at 8-9 lbs but got off at the side of the boat without a photo.

Warm Water Species - Department wildlife biologist John Austin got out bass fishing last weekend around Dillenback Bay in North Hero and had a 5-60 fish day. John says the largemouth were concentrated on any emerging weedbeds close to shore but noted that vegetation growth is still behind due to high water. His best luck was with topwater baits like weedless frogs or Rebel Pop R's. John followed up missed strikes by lobbing 5 or 6-inch soft plastics back to the swirl, which would usually connect.

John Rielly of Barre had a great day fishing a bass tournament on southern Champlain by Larabee's Point. He came second in the Reynolds Boats Northern Bass Open, with a 5.02-lb lunker. John's best pattern was flipping heavy jigs and a trailer into the thickest weeds he could find, especially if there was clear water under or behind the weedbeds. As a fun bonus, John says he caught a bunch of freshwater drum working a Ned-rig slowly across areas with firm rocky bottoms.

A report from an angler fishing St. Albans and Missisquoi bays says the water temps are in the upper 70s, and weed growth there is delayed as well. Schools of minnow fry and other baitfish are visible around the emerging weeds, and in those areas, he's found largemouth and smallmouth bass to be in full-on feeding mode—smashing spinnerbaits and crankbaits hard and furiously. Topwater in the evening has also been pretty good. The report noted that most bass are relating to slightly deeper water further from shore in the 8-10 ft range, and always near some emerging vegetation on the bottom. As a bonus, he caught a dozen northern pike and chain pickerel in those same areas.

Jamie Buzzel and his sons caught a slew of catfish in Lake Champlain.

Bob Dostie of Swanton sent in another trip report and says he's found the bass are finally settling in to their summer patterns. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, and pike as well, are relating to weed beds and areas adjacent to them where scattered rocks are mixed in. Moving baits are still working for him, and he suggests casting spinnerbaits and chatterbaits around the outside edges in 6-10 feet of water. For a chance at a bigger smallmouth bass, Bob suggests fishing those same areas but backing out into slightly deeper water and working tube jigs and dropshot rigs slowly on the bottom.

If bass fishing isn't your thing, Dan Bushey of Vergennes says the catfish fishing is still going strong on the lake. Dan went out with his friend Jamie Buzzel and his three sons and caught a slew of catfish around weed beds growing in 6-10 feet of water. Use chunks of panfish or even grocery store shrimp and leave them on the bottom on the edge of the weeds. The catfish will sniff out your bait from a long way away.

Roy Gangloff of West Dummerston spend another early morning on Champlain and says the only thing better than the fishing at dawn was the sunrise that followed. Before the sun breaks the horizon, Roy says schools of alewife have been driving bass into a feeding frenzy. But as soon as the sun breaks, it's game over. If you're out before dawn, look for alewife activity in the back of coves and the mouth of rivers. Roy says the topwater bite has been the best he's seen in years, the result of bass busting alewife on the surface. He recommends large topwater baits like a Zara Spook worked in a fast, erratic manner to provoke fierce strikes.

And in true Lake Champlain fashion, you never know what you'll catch as a surprise. He's been pulling in lots of big chain pickerel up to 23" in these same areas, but usually after the sun is fully up. Small white swim jigs with a natural colored paddletail trailer have been working the best.

Capt. Matt Trombley has been targeting salmon and lake trout and says the action has been best at dawn and the early morning hours. Capt. Matt introduced a family from Taiwan to Lake Champlain's fishery with much success. Matt was using long leadcore rod and reel setups, short copper wire reels, and downriggers set at 45' to 50'. Suspending baitfish usually meant catching a salmon, while for lake trout, he was trolling spoons very slowly on the bottom in 85'-100' of water.

Champlain Tributaries

Several large rivers flow into Champlain on the Vermont side that offer a different style of fishing if you have a rowboat or kayak. While drifting down the upper reaches of Otter Creek, or the Winooski, Lamoille, Poultney, or Missisquoi rivers you'll often be in complete solitude, enjoy views you'll never see from the road, and have access to fish that rarely get pressured.

Roy Gangloff kayaked Otter Creek between Weybridge and Huntington Falls in search of Master Angler-sized fallfish and smallmouth bass. Though the fishing wasn't as great as he hoped, he still enjoyed the trip because of the bird watching opportunities. Roy and his wife saw ospreys nesting, feeding their young and defending their territory by driving off bald eagles. Herons and kingfishers were also abundant. As for the fishing, Roy caught fallfish and smallmouth bass at the base of the Huntington Falls on small spinners – just no big ones.

Capt. Trombley also did some float fishing on Otter Creek from Brandon down to the mouth of the creek at Lake Champlain. He was targeting northern pike with fly tackle and caught several nice fish. Matt's tip for pike fishing in rivers is to look for fish on shaded banks and throw big brightly colored streamers, then hold on for some exciting action.

Mike Elwood spend a few hours recently fishing below the Peterson Dam on the Lamoille River in Milton. He caught a bunch of smallmouth bass, some fallfish, and lots of pumpkinseed sunfish using a worm and a bobber on one pole and a #2 Blue Fox spinner on the other.

End of Lake Champlain Fishing Report for July 19, 2019

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