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Hardwater Tournament Fishing

This past weekend had my partner Brian and I back in VT for stop #3 of the Champlain Valley Hardwater Tournament Series, Laphams Cove, Lake Champlain.

We went a day early to pre-fish since neither of us had fished this spot before. Brian was there before me and had already found some good fish, so I decided to look for a plan B and maybe plan C if needed. The weather was amazing, temps in the 40's, no wind, overcast and 13 inches of ice with no snow on top, which made for easy walking to cover lots of water.

When scouting new water, I like to use a 4-inch auger, I have a Strikemaster Laser with new blades that I attach to my Clam drill plate. This set up allows me to really cover a large area, on this day I drilled 100 holes through 13 inches of ice and still had one bar left on my 5amp Dewalt battery.

My search rod/reel combo was the new 36-inch Jason Mitchell meat stick combo from Clam Outdoors spooled with Clam's 4lb Frost flourocarbon line and the Pinhead Mino. This allows me to cover water fast and search for active fish.

While doing so, I saw a large red mark on my Vexilar that I knew was NOT a panfish, sure enough it bite my jig and the rod loaded up, after a 10 minute battle, I pulled a northern pike through the hole that was almost as big as the 36in rod I was using.

I ended our practice day fishing with my partner and catching some big crappies, both whites and blacks. We were hoping the fish would remain where we found them, but as luck would have it, on tournament day, we were handed the foul weather card. The temps dropped 20 degrees, the wind was blowing 18 mph, freezing rain and the fish shut down.

We knew we were on fish, so we decided to just hunker down and go for broke instead of wasting time looking for active fish. This proved to be the right move, as we slowly caught good fish after good fish and ended up with 3 white crappies and 3 black crappies that weighed 5.19lbs.

My partner lost a big fish at the hole that would have most likely put us in a podium spot and possibly good enough for the win but, that's tournament fishing. 6lbs even was the winning total with only about 3/4 of a pound between us in 7th place and 1st place.

Key baits for me were Eurotackle soft plastics, mainly the "Crazy Critter", the Clam Pinhead Mino tipped with spikes and the Eurotackle "Ball X" jig tipped with the Eurotackle Bloodworm. My partner had his Clam Arctic warrior set up with a live minnow and he was also jigging live minnows with his jigging rod.

This coming weekend we are heading back for the final two stops of the trail and looking for that podium finish.

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