A brook trout weighing 5.85 pounds has been certified by the Warrensburg DEC office, breaking Daniel Germain’s record caught in South Lake in June of 2011 by one ounce. The previous record was a 5 pound, 4-1/2 ounce brookie taken from Racquette Lake on June 7, 2009 by Tom Yacovella, pictured above.
Spring has arrived in the North Country, trees are leafing, daffodils are blooming and that means it’s spawning time on Lake Champlain. Want to catch the bass of a lifetime? Well now is the time. Pre-spawn means the spring feed is on and the big mommy bass are heading for their beds. But before they start their yearly mating, they will be cruising and feeding.
So, what should you look for? Look for shallow flats or shoals with plenty of boulder rocks and a clean, hard bottom. Many of these areas are marked on a good lake map.
Bass will be looking for crawfish to fatten up on from a long winter of near fasting. But, they will be spooky. Roaming in 4 to 6 feet of water on sunny days they will be easy to spot. Catching them can be difficult though. Since the water is near gin clear they can see you if you can see them. Stealth is the key. Use your trolling motor to sneak along the bank keeping the boat in 7 to 9 feet of water.
The following are a couple of proven techniques used by tournament pros that can be deadly this time of year.
Dead Sticking a wacky rigged Senko is probably the most productive technique this time of year, but it requires patience. Use a medium-action spinning rod, 8-pound test line and a number-one finesse hook. Tie the hook to your line with no weight. Hook a five-inch Senko in the middle, halfway between each end. Leave your hook point exposed. This may be a strange looking rig to the novice, but you’ll soon learn how deadly it can be.
Make a long cast in about four feet of water around a patch of boulders or near any cruising bass you see. Close your bail and just let the Senko slowly sink. Don’t move the lure for at least 20 to 30 seconds. No bite? Lift your rod tip to 11 o’clock and wind down to pick up the slack. Wait again, let the Senko drift. Watch your line and feel for the telltale tick or just a heavy feeling. When you sense a bite don’t jerk — wind quickly., taking up slack until you feel the fish — then set the hook. Keep working the area slowly and quietly.
A second deadly technique is to burn a crank bait or a medium (3/8th ounce) spinner bait. A chop on the water or a medium breeze really helps this technique. Using the same stealth boat position make long casts at a 45 degree angle to the bank. Most anglers will use a medium retrieve. Instead, try cranking your lure as fast as you can. The best reel to accomplish this is one with a 6 /1 gear ratio. The purpose of the fast retrieve is to imitate a fleeing baitfish and trigger a reaction strike. Hold on tight because when a fish attacks your offering we use the term getting you’re “arm broke.”
It’s important that your lure be tuned not to roll. If yours is rolling to the surface, take a pair of needle nose pliers and gently bend the line tie in the opposite direction of the roll. Don’t over bend. Recast and tune again if necessary.
Soon the mommas and poppas will start bedding which is the time to leave them alone and get your tackle ready for the next phase — the post spawn. That will only be a few days away and the subject of my next column.
Howard Hammonds is a guide and experienced bass fisherman living in Westport. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.