10 Prime Spots for a Winning Catch at the LCI Fishing Derby: Your Insider Guide

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Lake Champlain, a vast natural playground straddling Vermont and New York, is renowned for its diverse fish species and stunning scenery. If you’re planning to cast your line in the legendary LCI Fishing Derby, here’s everything you need to maximize your chances of success:

Top 10 Fishing Hotspots:

  1. Missisquoi Bay: Shallow, weed-filled, a haven for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
  2. Inland Sea: Islands, reefs, varied depths – prime territory for lake trout, landlocked salmon.
  3. Malletts Bay: Excellent for northern pike, yellow perch, and even walleye.
  4. The Gut (between North and South Hero): Strong currents, deep holes attract big fish.
  5. Otter Creek: Trophy smallmouth bass, channel catfish in this river delta.
  6. Shelburne Bay: Diverse structure, good for multiple species.
  7. Button Bay: Rocky points, drop-offs – a lake trout angler’s dream.
  8. Ticonderoga: (NY side) Deep water, rocky shoreline – known for salmon and lake trout.
  9. Crown Point: (NY side) Diverse fishery, worth exploring for various species.
  10. Four Brothers Islands: (NY side) Currents, deep water attract trophy fish.

Tips for Landing the Big One:

  • Match the Bait: Study the prevalent forage fish in your chosen area (alewives, smelt, etc.) and mimic their appearance/action with lures or live bait.
  • Depth and Structure: Fish relate to underwater features. Look for ledges, drop-offs, weed beds, and humps.
  • Time of Day: Early mornings and evenings often yield the best bite, but this varies by season.
  • Weather: Wind and cloud cover can affect fish behavior. Be adaptable.
  • Local Knowledge: Talk to bait shops, guides, or fellow anglers for up-to-the-minute tips.

How the LCI Derby Works:

  • Registration: Choose individual, family, or “Champlain Basin Derby” (year-round) options.
  • Eligible Species: Varies by derby type. Focus on those with the biggest potential payoff!
  • Weigh-Ins: Official stations exist throughout the region. Follow the rules meticulously.
  • Prizes: Cash, merchandise, even trips – the stakes are high!

Chartering Your Success (VT and NY):

Experienced guides know Lake Champlain intimately. Here’s where to find them:

  • Vermont:
    • Lake Champlain Fishing Charters (Burlington)
    • Tightline Charters (Colchester)
    • The Fly Rod Shop (Stowe) – they also guide
  • New York:
    • Adirondack Fishing Adventures (Lake George)
    • Eastern View Outfitters (Ticonderoga)

Important Notes:

  • Obtain proper fishing licenses for the state(s) you’ll be fishing in.
  • Practice ethical catch-and-release for sustainable fisheries.
  • Respect private property and access points.
  • Be safe! Weather can change quickly on the lake.

The LCI Fishing Derby isn’t just a competition; it’s a celebration of Lake Champlain’s angling heritage. With these tips, you’re well on your way to reeling in a memorable experience (and maybe a prize-winning fish!).

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