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Author Topic: Pike Fishery  (Read 1710 times)

Offline gogetthegaff

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Pike Fishery
« on: Mar 10, 2023, 07:14 PM »
Has anyone besides me noticed a decline in the pike fishing on Champlain in recent years? This will be the third year in a row that our historically reliable spots in the islands haven't produced at all. We have pretty much practiced catch and release on pike, maybe keeping a few small males per season for the frying pan. We've always released big females. Not long ago 10 plus fish days were common. In fact we tired of chasing flags and concentrated more on jigging for other species. Have the fish moved out of their normal haunts or is something else going on ? Maybe it's just us?
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Offline Vtperchchaser

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #1 on: Mar 11, 2023, 09:17 AM »
I feel like this yr the water was warmer and a lot more mucky flow from the rivers through out the winter has to have an effect on the pike. Theyíre masters of ambush but if your food is pushed into new areas that donít normally have water the fish will follow. I havenít fished Champlain through the ice for a few yrs because the ice has been less than ideal

Offline lowaccord66

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #2 on: Mar 11, 2023, 09:37 AM »
The problem with fish is they swim.  Patterns change all the time.

Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #3 on: Mar 11, 2023, 12:12 PM »
The problem with fish is they swim.  Patterns change all the time.
Fair enough. Been fishing on Champlain for 55 years. I've experienced a lot of changes in that time, including decimation of the walleye fishery and a now non-existent sauger population on the southern end of the lake. A number of factors lead to that, not the least of which was overly generous bag limits (IMO), overfishing, fishing the spawning run, loss of spawning habitat and invasive white perch. Today I'm seeing pictures of groups of 4 fisherman with 20 pike on the ice. Being that pike are at the top of the food chain in the lake I have to wonder if that's really necessary, and how many of those fish will be thrown away due to freezer burn...if they even make it to the freezer. It also seems like we'd want to protect the big breeders. I'm no biologist, but I do know the lack of predatory fish can lead to overpopulated and stunted prey species like perch. I've seen very few reports of anyone catching true "jumbos" on Champlain these days. Would it hurt to have a slot limit on pike to protect the big breeders? Do we really need to have a 5-fish bag limit?
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Offline sonny88

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #4 on: Mar 11, 2023, 02:09 PM »
I'm with You Gaff! A five fish limit and being able to use 15 tip ups per person is totally ridiculous! Over fishing wiped out the pike population in Shelburne Pond and then Colchester Pond but we learned nothing from that! One fish per day and a slot limit would be a great idea.

Offline Adam.love05

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #5 on: Mar 11, 2023, 04:43 PM »
I think your onto something gaff. Maybe itís just location based but I have definitely noticed a decrease in pike catches from my boat. I donít fish them through the ice but would assume similar success. It is a big lake but that doesnít mean it fishes to its size. Try catching a bag of smallmouth south of Burlington for instance. Pike are very overfished. Especially now with bow fishing becoming ever more popular.  But thatís the cards we are dealt. Theyíll bounce back eventually.

Offline perch bait

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #6 on: Mar 11, 2023, 08:20 PM »
I agree that the pike fishery is off. I have essentially given up on setting tip-ups for pike while I am panfishing in the islands. Countless hours of running tip-ups with 3 to 5 inch perch and only one pike caught all year on Champlain, and that fish was only low 20s. There are places with so many small perch and bluegills that are filled with hungry pickerel and bass, but seemingly no pike. Maybe they have stayed out deeper than usual this year?
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Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #7 on: Mar 11, 2023, 08:35 PM »
I agree that the pike fishery is off. I have essentially given up on setting tip-ups for pike while I am panfishing in the islands. Countless hours of running tip-ups with 3 to 5 inch perch and only one pike caught all year on Champlain, and that fish was only low 20s. There are places with so many small perch and bluegills that are filled with hungry pickerel and bass, but seemingly no pike. Maybe they have stayed out deeper than usual this year?
We've experienced the exact same thing Perch Bait.
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Offline jbritch

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #8 on: Mar 12, 2023, 10:15 AM »
These posts remind me of the seven blind men and the elephant, not that any of the authors are blind or elephants.  But, my experience has been different.  When I put a tip-up with a small perch down into the rocks off Tabor Point in only a couple of feet of water I always get at least one keeper pike.  A keeper for me has to be big enough that I can get at least a meal from only one; sometimes I feel bad for killing a fish that will grow to be worth cleaning someday for only a few scraps of flesh today. Many times in the last few years I've gotten my limit, the biggest was only ten lbs. but that's a good day for me.  It got so bad that I was constantly running for a flag and ignoring my jigstick.  If I want to catch some perch, I have to leave my tip-ups at home or end up jigging in shallow water for little perch.  But, each of the last two years I've gotten nice pike on a little minnow on my jigstick, like last Wednesday.  See this small one...




I think Iowa is right; they move around.  Some guys chase 'em; I don't.  Been sitting in the same hole for 25 years.  I know a guy who fishes only on the submerged island at the north end of Highgate Springs and he kills them every time.

I heard the other day that the perch population in Lake Champlain is the densest ever.  There're just fewer guys catching them for fear of falling through (and the price of bait?)

Got to go... having a fish fry in a few minutes...

Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #9 on: Mar 12, 2023, 04:38 PM »
Well there ya go! Of course the densest perch population ever wouldn't have anything to do with the lack of apex predators....
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Offline IceDog88

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #10 on: Mar 12, 2023, 06:35 PM »
Went out a bunch of times trying to locate pike this year and didnít find anything and with the ice conditions and open water in places they must be on the move chasing bait. Tough year for sure. Weíll try again next year.

Offline ISLAND STORM

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #11 on: Mar 12, 2023, 08:08 PM »
Fair enough. Been fishing on Champlain for 55 years. I've experienced a lot of changes in that time, including decimation of the walleye fishery and a now non-existent sauger population on the southern end of the lake. A number of factors lead to that, not the least of which was overly generous bag limits (IMO), overfishing, fishing the spawning run, loss of spawning habitat and invasive white perch. Today I'm seeing pictures of groups of 4 fisherman with 20 pike on the ice. Being that pike are at the top of the food chain in the lake I have to wonder if that's really necessary, and how many of those fish will be thrown away due to freezer burn...if they even make it to the freezer. It also seems like we'd want to protect the big breeders. I'm no biologist, but I do know the lack of predatory fish can lead to overpopulated and stunted prey species like perch. I've seen very few reports of anyone catching true "jumbos" on Champlain these days. Would it hurt to have a slot limit on pike to protect the big breeders? Do we really need to have a 5-fish bag limit?


Couldnít agree moreÖ..Iíve seen the decline especially up north in the bays. Iíve been fishing those bays for 40 years and yes you can still catch them but decent mature pike are tough to come by. Agree a slot would help but also the people who catch them only to leave them on the ice to die like I see up in Misissquoi bay all the time drives me nuts.

My own personal rule on pikeÖI donít keep anything over 32 inches ever. Anything larger than that the odds of it being a female increase exponentially.

Itís my own personal thing. Not sure the reason or reasons behind it all but in my areas the numbers are down for sure of quality pike.
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Offline WARRIOR_ON_ICE

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #12 on: Mar 12, 2023, 09:17 PM »
This topic is of very high interest to me as a NY pike fisherman that does a lot of ice fishing trips on the south basin of Champlain. I am very sad for the guys that want to catch pike, both for action and size like they are accustomed to, and are finding a dropoff in either size or numbers of fish. I am wondering if this is a problem specific to the northern part of the lake in VT ?

I have not seen a dropoff in either the average size of the pike, or in the numbers of flags and fish caught on the NY side where I fish, in the 10 years that I have been fishing the same spots. The area seems to be inexhaustible for pike ( also pickerel and perch ). I don't catch limits and never have, and even if I did I would not keep a limit because I do not want to clean that many pike, but it is a rare weekend thata I don't put at least 2 pike on the ice that are > 30 inches.

Back in 2014 or 2015 ice season, I was visited 3 times by VT fishery people that pulled up on snowmobiles doing creel surveys, that they said would ultimately be compiled and used to review the VT regulations with regard to size and creel limits for pike and other fish. They said the info. would also be shared with NY for assisting NY with setting size and creel limits since it is a border water for most of its length.

If the diminished pike problem was occurring the entire length of the lake based on creel surveys, I think they would have imposed stricter regulations since 2015, but they have noit changed anything for pike regs . in NY so maybe this is limited to the VT  only portion of the lake and those areas are possibly being ovefished. ? If true then that is sad and VT should definitely change the regs. to reduce the bag limit and/or put a slot limit or something useful in place for a while.
The Ultimate Warrior is possessed with great power from the heavens above ! Against the mighty lake trout and pike and schools of crappie, the power of the WARRIOR will always ......... PREVAIL !!!

Offline WARRIOR_ON_ICE

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #13 on: Mar 12, 2023, 09:41 PM »
Fair enough. Been fishing on Champlain for 55 years. I've experienced a lot of changes in that time, including decimation of the walleye fishery and a now non-existent sauger population on the southern end of the lake. A number of factors lead to that, not the least of which was overly generous bag limits (IMO), overfishing, fishing the spawning run, loss of spawning habitat and invasive white perch. Today I'm seeing pictures of groups of 4 fisherman with 20 pike on the ice. Being that pike are at the top of the food chain in the lake I have to wonder if that's really necessary, and how many of those fish will be thrown away due to freezer burn...if they even make it to the freezer. It also seems like we'd want to protect the big breeders. I'm no biologist, but I do know the lack of predatory fish can lead to overpopulated and stunted prey species like perch. I've seen very few reports of anyone catching true "jumbos" on Champlain these days. Would it hurt to have a slot limit on pike to protect the big breeders? Do we really need to have a 5-fish bag limit?

I have mixed reactions to this post. If you assert that the pike fishing has gone downhill, how then is it possible for 4 guys to limit out and catch 20 pike ? I agree that for the most part it is not necessary to ever keep a limit of 5 pike, but there could be good reasons why some people do keep 5. Maybe they only have enough time for a couple of days of pike fishing per season, or maybe they are feeding pike to a big family. As long as the fish are not wasted I do not fault anyone for keeping a legal limit of any fish species.

If keeping a legal limit of fish by enough fishermen truly harms the population of that fish such that it harms the sustainability of the species, then the fishermen are not to blame, and the state fisheries biologist need to recognize what is happening and tighten up the size limit and/or the bag limit accordingly to get things back to sustainability.
The Ultimate Warrior is possessed with great power from the heavens above ! Against the mighty lake trout and pike and schools of crappie, the power of the WARRIOR will always ......... PREVAIL !!!

Offline Pike Panther

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #14 on: Mar 13, 2023, 02:22 PM »
Pike being my primary fish of choice I have certainly noticed some changes in the past 10 years.  As previously noted some bays in Grand Isle County that always produced pike now seem to be void of them even with an abundance of panfish available.  I also have found that it has become much harder to find pike in their traditional places we have known in the past.  I believe that white pearch have chagned some of the patterns of pike as they can often be found in their stomachs.  White perch like deep water much of the year.  But the change is more likely associated with the arrival of alwifes.   I think a large marjority of pike are now spening their time being more opportunistic on huge schools of alwifes in deep water or simply just cruzing the bottom and scooping up dead ones at will with no effort expending chasing food.  One huge cavit is that pike are becoming larger every year.  I personally catch at least 10 pike a year between 10-15 pounds.  10 pounders were not common to me 10 years ago and now I often expect to catch one when I find fish.  The group of guys I fish with all let 9 pound plus fish go and we typically only keep a few 5-8 pounders to eat.  I think the number of fish is the same as years ago, it's just that a different approach to fishing them is now necessary.   I would like to see the state implement a slot limit for pike & walleye.  The walleye slot has been working on Carmi for decades now.  No need to reinvent the wheel. 

Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #15 on: Mar 13, 2023, 03:14 PM »
I have mixed reactions to this post. If you assert that the pike fishing has gone downhill, how then is it possible for 4 guys to limit out and catch 20 pike ? I agree that for the most part it is not necessary to ever keep a limit of 5 pike, but there could be good reasons why some people do keep 5. Maybe they only have enough time for a couple of days of pike fishing per season, or maybe they are feeding pike to a big family. As long as the fish are not wasted I do not fault anyone for keeping a legal limit of any fish species.

If keeping a legal limit of fish by enough fishermen truly harms the population of that fish such that it harms the sustainability of the species, then the fishermen are not to blame, and the state fisheries biologist need to recognize what is happening and tighten up the size limit and/or the bag limit accordingly to get things back to sustainability.
It's a fair point. Most of the pics I'm referring to are taken from Missisquoi Bay. It could be more of a localized issue. I do agree its possible the alewives have had an impact on changing patterns.
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Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #16 on: Mar 13, 2023, 03:18 PM »
This topic is of very high interest to me as a NY pike fisherman that does a lot of ice fishing trips on the south basin of Champlain. I am very sad for the guys that want to catch pike, both for action and size like they are accustomed to, and are finding a dropoff in either size or numbers of fish. I am wondering if this is a problem specific to the northern part of the lake in VT ?

I have not seen a dropoff in either the average size of the pike, or in the numbers of flags and fish caught on the NY side where I fish, in the 10 years that I have been fishing the same spots. The area seems to be inexhaustible for pike ( also pickerel and perch ). I don't catch limits and never have, and even if I did I would not keep a limit because I do not want to clean that many pike, but it is a rare weekend thata I don't put at least 2 pike on the ice that are > 30 inches.

Back in 2014 or 2015 ice season, I was visited 3 times by VT fishery people that pulled up on snowmobiles doing creel surveys, that they said would ultimately be compiled and used to review the VT regulations with regard to size and creel limits for pike and other fish. They said the info. would also be shared with NY for assisting NY with setting size and creel limits since it is a border water for most of its length.

If the diminished pike problem was occurring the entire length of the lake based on creel surveys, I think they would have imposed stricter regulations since 2015, but they have noit changed anything for pike regs . in NY so maybe this is limited to the VT  only portion of the lake and those areas are possibly being ovefished. ? If true then that is sad and VT should definitely change the regs. to reduce the bag limit and/or put a slot limit or something useful in place for a while.
Damn! It never occurred to me that the sons da' guns defected to New York! That explains a lot!! ;D ;D
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Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #17 on: Mar 13, 2023, 03:27 PM »
Thanks guys for your feedback. Interesting topic. I think in the end it wouldn't hurt for F & W to establish a slot and reduce the creel limit. In the meantime we can all consider practicing a little conservation and self-regulation like many of you already do. It has definitely been a disappointing year on the ice for us...but it is still fishing. It only takes one good outing to get redemption and erase memories of the less productive days. Gonna turn my attention to getting the boat ready to hit the lake in a few weeks.
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Offline WARRIOR_ON_ICE

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #18 on: Mar 13, 2023, 09:44 PM »
Don't forget that VT and NY have reciprocity with the fishing licenses on most of Lake Champlain. If you are not getting the pike action you want where you normally fish in VT or NY, drive a little farther and try some new spots in VT or NY for a change of scenery and it could be just what you need for some increased pike action.
The Ultimate Warrior is possessed with great power from the heavens above ! Against the mighty lake trout and pike and schools of crappie, the power of the WARRIOR will always ......... PREVAIL !!!

Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #19 on: Mar 14, 2023, 01:45 PM »
Don't forget that VT and NY have reciprocity with the fishing licenses on most of Lake Champlain. If you are not getting the pike action you want where you normally fish in VT or NY, drive a little farther and try some new spots in VT or NY for a change of scenery and it could be just what you need for some increased pike action.
We actually used to fish the Shoreham to Addison area a lot not that long ago when we were living in Bristol. Had great luck there. Now living in Brookfield and that's a long drive, so we've switched to the islands. All interstate and much easier. We may need to consider heading south next year.
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Offline lowaccord66

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #20 on: Mar 17, 2023, 11:18 AM »
We do an annual open water trip for them and I try to hit them on ice once or twice a year.  Havent had a year where we weren't landing 20-30 each a day.  Last year we out out 11 traps and couldnt stop to eat for 6.5 hours with constant flags.  I landed a 16#er.  Worth mentioning that all of the above posts dont mention the area in VT we fish every year.  That said this presents a personal bias but also I dont care to be right or wrong about the state of the pike fishery up there.  Its never ceased to keep my interest and thats all that matters to this guy.

Offline Vtperchchaser

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #21 on: Mar 18, 2023, 06:22 AM »
I like to say if you keep swinging for the fences at some point youíll hit it out the park. Fish def move around depending on weather and the way the weeds die off each yr and where the food travels. Iíve sort of seen both sides of it. Where I would say I normally fish thereís been yrs itís great and others it was a clean miss but thatís what keeps me going back. The challenge of figuring out where the giants are living

Offline WARRIOR_ON_ICE

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #22 on: Mar 18, 2023, 09:55 AM »
I like to say if you keep swinging for the fences at some point youíll hit it out the park. Fish def move around depending on weather and the way the weeds die off each yr and where the food travels. Iíve sort of seen both sides of it. Where I would say I normally fish thereís been yrs itís great and others it was a clean miss but thatís what keeps me going back. The challenge of figuring out where the giants are living

Agree 100% with your comments. If fishing was too easy, would it be as exciting ? Everyone agrees the answer is NO.
The Ultimate Warrior is possessed with great power from the heavens above ! Against the mighty lake trout and pike and schools of crappie, the power of the WARRIOR will always ......... PREVAIL !!!

Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #23 on: Mar 18, 2023, 11:40 AM »
Agree 100% with your comments. If fishing was too easy, would it be as exciting ? Everyone agrees the answer is NO.
Please read the original premise to this thread; "Has anyone besides me noticed a decline in the pike fishing on Champlain in recent years?"
Several anglers besides myself have experienced this. Some have not. As I said, I've been fishing the lake for 55 years. So I do have a fair amount of experience finding fish. I'm not saying there has been a decline. It's just been a trend we've noticed. It could completely turn around next year. Regardless, I do believe the creel limits are too generous and that a slot limit to manage for more trophy fish would be beneficial. It's an opinion. We're all entitled to have one.
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Offline Boatless in BTV

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #24 on: Mar 18, 2023, 08:17 PM »
I'm nerdy enough that I find going through the reports on the Vermont Fisheries Library https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FWLibraryExternal/SearchFisheriesLibrary.aspx fascinating.  If you're interested in things like population trends, it's a place to check out. There have reports going back decades in some cases.

For pike, the most recent survey on Champlain (HERE: [ur]https://anrweb.vt.gov/PubDocs/FWD/FisheriesLibrary/Fisheries/Historic%20Fish%20Documents/F36-R23/F36R23Study08-21.pdf[/url]) reports an increase in overall numbers but a decline in bigger fish over 34 inches.

Notable in the analysis here:
Quote
"The low numbers in female length distribution beyond the 34-inch group in 2009-2010 and 2021, may suggest a cropping effect from size-selective harvest (Pierce 2010) or some other mortality pressure. Data from the 2015 southern Lake Champlain winter creel indicates that about 55% of the harvest pressure on the south lake is directed towards pike 30-inches and larger."

And from the recommendations:

Quote
"Opportunities to improve fishing quality for Northern Pike on Lake Champlain should be considered, with a focus on increasing the proportion of the population that exceeds the 34-inch mark, and provides trophy fishing opportunities for large pike between 36 and 40 inches in length."
Quote
"Unconventional regulation strategies not previously attempted in Vermont could be evaluated on a Test Water basis, such as split bag limits or protected slot limits, for example (lengths provided below are for example only):
* 5 fish/day with no more than one over 32 inches (all 5 can be under 32 inches)
OR
* 5 fish/day with a 32-35 inches protected slot and no more than 1 over 35 inches (all 5
can be under 32 inches)."

That report was written by Shawn Good from Vermont Fish and Wildlife in August 2021. I'm told reports from the 2022 fiscal year will be posted soon, and an update on this will be one I'm curious to see.


Offline gogetthegaff

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #25 on: Mar 19, 2023, 09:41 AM »
Excellent post. Thanks Boatless...
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Offline lowaccord66

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #26 on: Mar 19, 2023, 10:03 AM »
Agree 100% with your comments. If fishing was too easy, would it be as exciting ? Everyone agrees the answer is NO.

I totally get bored on hot bites....said no one ever....

Offline ISLAND STORM

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #27 on: Mar 19, 2023, 03:20 PM »
AgreeÖ.. great post boatlessÖ.thatís seconds what I was mentioning earlier in the the chain. Plenty of smaller fish but fewer bigs to go around.
My Biggest worry is that when I'm dead and gone, my wife will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it.

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Offline pikeaddict

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Re: Pike Fishery
« Reply #28 on: Mar 19, 2023, 07:15 PM »
I'd like to see them implement the no more than 1 over 32in example for a 3-4 year experimental period on the VT license only waters.
My guess, after that period and reviewing the results the regulation would be implemented for the whole lake.
Given the chance with the right creel regulations, Lake Champlain has the potential to be a destination lake for trophy pike.

 



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