Champlain Islands

To view the embedded depth chart, scroll down and click the CHARTS button. Click LAKE CHAMPLAIN RIVIERE RICHELIEU TO SOUTH HERO ISLAND or LAKE CHAMPLAIN CUMBERLAND HEAD TO FOUR BROTHERS ISLANDS and click the DONE botton. Then use the slide bar at the top right to control the maps. Click here for larger map.

From Missisquoi Bay to South Hero, the Champlain Islands region provides classic Lake Champlain bass fishing at its finest.   There is an incredible variety of bass fishing opportunities here - from shallow water power fishing to deep water structure fishing and almost everything in between.   Tournament fishermen working this area of the lake regularly catch mixed bags of largemouth and smallmouth topping 20 pounds – a rare event almost anywhere else in the country.

Rather than try to cover the whole region, knowledgeable fishermen will choose smaller areas within the region and develop a plan to fish them effectively.  The morning may be spent probing offshore humps and reefs with a Carolina rig or dropshot for smallmouth.   If this doesn’t prove effective, the angler may switch to topwater fishing around weedbeds or pitching jigs to wood cover for largemouth.  As with other areas of the lake, wind direction and intensity often influences the day’s plan.  To be successful, fishermen must be flexible enough to accommodate changing weather conditions.

Those who favor offshore smallmouth fishing will enjoy spending time at Horseshoe Reef, City Ledge, McGregor Point Ledge, and Gull Island Reef.   Football jigs, dropshot rigs, and Carolina rigs are all effective techniques for catching smallmouth offshore.  In the early season, try around the grass and ledge at the top of the structure. As summer progresses, smallmouth generally hold deeper on the structure.  This is true on a daily basis as well – fish will generally hold deeper as the sun climbs in the sky.

Using a fishfinder to locate bait and schools of fish is critical to fishing the offshore humps and reefs.  With so much water to cover, there no sense in casting a line without reasonable assurance there are active fish nearby.  Cruise around the structure looking for active fish and bait. When fish are contacted, the angler can drop a marker buoy and then fish the area thoroughly, using the buoy as a reference for casts and drifts.

Missisquoi Bay is reputed to contain some of the lake's best largemouth habitat. In fact, Missisquoi Bay has played a part in wins in three major professional tournaments in the last decade,including the 2006 BASS Elite Series Champion's Choice (Denny Brauer), the 2009 FLW Tour Major (Scott Martin), and the 2011 FLW Tour Open (Dave Wolak). The winners of these events netted combined winnings of over $300,000.

As with southern areas of the lake, vegetation plays a large part in every fishing strategy, especially when largemouth are targeted.  Milfoil is the predominant species of vegetation in the Champlain Islands region.  While large weedmats on the vast flats will hold bass, it is often an isolated weedbed with access to deep water that holds larger schools.  Occasional algae blooms will cause summer milfoil to become covered with a slime.  When this happens, focus on cleaner weeds near areas with current.

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