By Captain Mickey Maynard of Lake Champlain Angler Fishing Charters
The Lake Champlain ice fishing season usually begins around early December when bays and passages on the north end of the lake first freeze. Fishermen gather at some of these early spots like the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge connecting Rouses Point, New York and Alburg, Vermont. Other early spots include Missisquoi Bay, the bridge at Hog Island, and Kings and Catfish Bays on the New York side. Keep in mind that the best fishing occurs on newly frozen areas, so wise anglers will follow the ice as it progresses. All of these spots will freeze before the adjacent broad lake, creating excellent perch fishing conditions. Of course care should be taken when fishing on the relatively thin ice in these circumstances.
As the colder weather sets in, the ice makes its way south. Some of the next good areas to consider include the bridge at Isle La Motte and the cliffs at Alburg. By this time Monty’s Bay with its several holding areas and Deep Bay at the Point Au Roche State Park are heating up. On the Vermont side the “Gut” is now holding fish too. By the time Algonquin Bay is frozen on the New York side most of the lake north of Malletts Bay has closed on the Vermont side as well. Areas to the south like the narrows at Ti, Bulwagga Bay, Port Henry, and Whalons Bay also begin to freeze at about the same time. Converse and Arnold Bays are now worth checking on the Vermont side. Many of the spots mentioned thus far are good perch or pike locations.
As the deeper water freezes, the smelt fishing heats up. Port Henry, Westport and Willsboro Bay are all good smelt fishing locations. Shanties are available for rent out of Port Henry and Westport and at Port Henry a taxi operates to usher the fishermen on and off the ice or from one to another of the numerous shanty towns that cluster over the hot spots.
If cold weather persists, the lake on occasion will close over at its deepest and widest spot, between Burlington and Port Kent. When this happens everybody’s favorite perch spot is open for business: Plattsburgh Bay. Areas around Valcour Island, accessed from Peru Dock, can also be productive. The sand bottom south of the lower mouth of the Au Sable River is a good area to fish for salmon and big perch. Willsboro Bay is also a good location for these species. On the Vermont side, Shelburne and Malletts Bay are great spots to pursue big perch and salmon.
US Coast Guard Captain Mickey Maynard has over 40 years of experience fishing and guiding on Lake Champlain. His charter service, Lake Champlain Angler Fishing Charters, caters to New York and Vermont anglers alike with numerous points of rendezvous across the wide expanse of this 120 mile-long world class fishery. The Captain welcomes one and all to join him aboard his fleet of specialized vessels to tackle a long list of cold-water or warm-water species that inhabit Lake Champlain. For more information and to book trips, contact Captain Mick at (518) 578-9273 or www.lakechamplainangler.com.
This post originally appeared on Eric LaMontagne’s Think You Know Champlain? blog for Lake Champlain International (LCI). Support them in their efforts to protect our lake!