Warm Water Evenings on Lake Champlain

We are currently in the middle of a heat wave here in Northern Vermont. Temperatures have been into the 90s and the humidity has been off the charts. I got out on the Winooski river earlier in the week with some friends and caught a couple of decent trout. However, since the rivers are so warm now its time to shift the focus to the soupy back water bays of Lake Champlain. Over the course of 3 nights I saw a huge amount of large fish. Largemouth Bass, Longnose Gar, Bowfin, Carp, Tench, Sheepshead and some others. One of those evenings was quite possibly my favorite fly fishing session in my 11 years of learning.

Longnose Gar on a rope fly
Chris and his first Longnose Gar.

The Gar were very aggressive and were slashing at large rope flies. I did a lot of observing these fish the last few outings. They are very cool creatures. I did some experimenting with how to actually rope them up. Letting them gobble on the rope works just fine, but I found I missed more of them that way. What worked best for me was observing the take, giving it a quick second and then lifting up. What a cool fish. The markings on these Gar are so fun to look at. I’ve been waiting a while for a solid day of action with these fish.

Tail Spots on Longnose Gar

When the sun started to drop we switched to top water for LMB. It was definitely difficult to stop chasing the Gar around but it was necessary. I wasn’t seeing a ton of Bowfin either. I was really hoping to catch one of those as well. The LMB fishing was out of this world. Fish were swirling and cruising in and out of the pads, in ankle deep water, and also in the deeper stuff. 2 of the bass I landed were very large and battled well. Probably a personal best Lake Champlain LMB for me. As it got a little darker we kept on in the shallows casting at swirls with deer hair flies. On one particularly awesome take I had the feeling it was not a LMB. As the fish was wrangled boatside I saw that it was a bowfin. With a brightly dressed up frog Dahlberg in the corner of its mouth! What a night! Lake Champlain hat trick complete.

Champlain Bowfin to complete the night
The Fly Craft brought us to some really nice fish. LMB release back into the pads.
Close up of some Gar teeth and some rope
Bowfin with a Dahlberg frog