Our recent cold snap in the Lake Champlain Region is working in the favor of ice-fishing enthusiasts. I recently stopped by Norm's Bait and Tackle, 286 Bridge Road in Crown Point, to get his take on the current conditions. Norm has been in business close to 25 years and has over 45 years of local fishing experience. In addition, his Bait and Tackle store is a hot spot for the exchange of information among other local fishermen. He carries all sizes of certified live bait, not to mention every kind of fishing gear imaginable. Licensed to sell to both individuals and restaurants, he buys and sells panfish daily, so sees numerous fishermen. Not all that familiar with ice fishing, I knew this was the place to pick up a crash course along with anything I might need.
I was more than impressed with the huge selection and variety as I entered his store. There were even custom made "ice flies" in all kinds of styles and colors. Very knowledgeable, and incredibly helpful, Norm promotes the entire sport of fishing in any season with great advice to keep both you, and our lake, safe and in top condition.
Norm told me that ice fishing on Lake Champlain in this immediate area is now in full swing. Fishermen seeking lake trout and salmon are doing really well around the Lake Champlain Bridge and in front of Port Henry; which is freezing as I write! His bait recommendations of the day were "a variety of hunts", "large emeralds", small to medium suckers (live or dead) on the bottom if seeking "lakers". Personally I really liked the sound of "large emeralds" and visualized flashes of sparkly dark green.....set in 14 carat of course.
I learned that if I wanted to pursue salmon, I should use a mono leader of 8# test and a number 10 treble hook with a large split shot about 18" above my bait. This, I understand, will make my bait work hard under the ice, flash and look "injured"; apparently attractive to salmon! He told me that I could make my leader longer, to go deeper, but I should keep in mind that salmon are shy so I would not want to show them my tip-up line.
Bullwagga Bay, he informed me, would be a good place to try my luck for some nice perch and bluegills. This site is easily accessed through the Bullwagga Bay Campground and it would be a good bet that I might land a salmon, right off the beach.
Should I have an interest in pursuing Northern Pike, I should look south of the Lake Champlain Bridge in the weed beds and about 4-10 feet of water. I should use large shiners and suckers, but a variety of sizes would be best to have on hand since some days they just aren't that hungry and might prefer a little "snack".
Norm let me in on some great ice fishing spots where abundant pike and perch are taken year after year. Monitor Bay Park is located near the Town Offices of the Town of Crown Point. Straight out from the park, about 150 yards is a weed bed only 8 to 27 feet from the edge of the channel. The pike and perch love it there.
Another recommendation he made was near the Ticonderoga boat launch and Ticonderoga Ferry access. Just north of these is a large weed bed extending as far as Kirby Point where fishermen have regular success. This, he said, would be a good area for jigging for panfish too, or using tip-ups for some tasty perch. He recommended fathead minnows as bait and those "emeralds" again. From what he said, I guess pike like them too.
Norm's also can accommodate ice fishermen with shanty rentals. He did advise to call early as next month they "really book up fast." He also has a 2 bedroom cabin for rent on his property with a full kitchen to cook up the day's catch or, if you're in the mood for a salt-water variety, he sells lobster, little neck clams and ocean fish from all over the world.
For one on one customer service, all the gear and great local advice, you cannot beat Norm's Bait and Tackle. Give him a call at 518-597-3645 or stop in to see him at 286 Bridge Road, Crown Point.