It was June 5th when I found myself at the Mallets Bay landing ramp in Colchester, Vermont. It was 7:30am and I was meeting with Nihad Basic, owner of Fishing Champlain Guide Service. Our goal was to target Smallmouth bass in the LaMoille River. Despite very negative weather conditions we did pretty well, by my book anyway. This is the story.
I arrived at the public, state run, boat ramp at about 7:15am and Nihad arrived right at 7:30am, towing his Ranger. We loaded my gear into the boat and prepared to launch. My gear for this trip consisted of four rod and reel combinations, three baitcasting and one spinning. My baitcasting rigs consisted of a Quantum EX500 reel coupled with a 5foot, 9 inch medium-heavy Quantum Pro-Contour rod. On this rod I had tied a crankbait in a firetiger color pattern; Quantum Energy reel mounted on a seven foot medium-heavy action Quantum Energy rod. Onto this was tied a Rapala weedless spoon and last a Quantum Energy reel coupled with a six foot six inch Quantum Energy medium-heavy rod. On this rig I had tied a ¾ ounce gold spinnerbait. My spinning setup was a Smoke PT reel mounted onto a seven foot medium-heavy Smoke rod. Onto this was a firetiger Storm Thunderstick jerkbait.
We had originally planned a trip up to Missisquoi, where we could possibly get into some big bass and pike, but a front coming in changed our plans. The big water on Lake Champlain was getting rough, with winds predicted at 20 knots. Way too rough to try to make the run north. This meant changing our plans. Trying to save the day we decided to go into the Lamoille River where the water would be calmer.
We all know that water temperatures effect fishing conditions and today was no exception. The water temperatures were in the mid-50 degree range and the barometer was dropping. Basically, it was not a good day for fishing, but we made the best with what we had. This was a planned catch and release trip. With that being said, the river does have some special regulations. This means picking up a copy of the Vermont Fishing Guide and following the rules.
The first spot we hit was a shallow area at the mouth of the river that had plenty of eel grass. Here I used the spinnerbait. Cast after cast I made to the eel grass with the hopes of at least getting a pike to hit. I did get a few hang ups, but the spinnerbait was my best bet. On my fourth cast I got hit by a small Largemouth bass. It wasn’t much, but I did break the ice.
With no further action we moved up into the river. The water was calmer, but the fishing was just as rough. Nihad was using a swimbait which he fished very slowly. I opted for my rod rigged with the crankbait which I also fished slowly. As it was to turn out the swimbait was the way to go. Though I got hits with the crankbait, Nihad got hook-ups with the swimbait, though they were few and far between. After his second Smallmouth I decided to switch over to the swimbait, though it didn’t help my average any.
I fished this bait slow, but no matter what I did I couldn’t get the bass to hit. I decided to fish it a little faster and I got a little action, though it wasn’t a bass. Speeding up the retrieve I got a small pike to chase down and strike the bait. The only problem is that the pike struck the swimbait’s tail and not the body, which is where the hook is.
With that and after more than four hours on the water we decided to call it a day. The evil water of Lake Champlain was making its way into the river. What was fairly smooth water began to get a chop on it. If the river had a chop then you know the lake would be a bear. Mallets Bay still needed to be crossed, so we prepared for a rough ride ahead.
At the end of the trip we concluded that we did pretty well considering the conditions. We had two Smallmouth and one Largemouth bass to our name. We also got a good sized Yellow perch strike the crankbait and one pike strike the swimbait. Above all, we had a good time. Fishing is not always about boating a bunch of fish, though that is a nice part of it when it works out. Fishing is about being with good people and for me, Nihad is good people. I now have a new friend and I plan on hooking up with him again in the future. So should you.
By Dana Benner