Lake Champlain is a vast amazing fishery. Professional angler Cole Harris has spent a lot of time exploring and fishing this entire lake. In this interview, we talk to Cole about one of his favorite sections of the Lake, the Inland Sea.
How long have you been fishing Lake Champlain?
I started fishing on Champlain as a little kid. I grew up living in Grand Isle, Vermont. So I would always be down at our dock casting a line in the water. What I love most about fishing Champlain is how diverse it is. You can go almost anywhere and catch something…largemouth or smallmouth, deep or shallow….
You are fishing out of a beautiful Skeeter boat. What boat is it?
This year I am running a Skeeter ZX 225. I prefer a medium size boat for shallow water and dock fishing. I also run 2 power poles and 2 HDS 12s. Champlain can be brutal sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught in big water wondering if I’ll make it back. If you don’t have the right set up when she gets angry and blows 25 mph, you might as well stay at home.
It can be hard to talk about Champlain as a single fishery as the lake is so diverse and can fish so differently. If I limited you to one section and general area of the lake for one entire season, which are you picking and why?
That’s tough…. I would have to say the Inland Sea. It’s where I grew up fishing and my comfort zone. I think it’s also overlooked. When people come to Champlain they automatically think north or south. There’s a lot of potential there if you can find them.
What would you consider a good weight for a 5 fish day on the Inland Sea?
18 to 20 pound bag is very possible anywhere on Champlain but my personal best came from the Inland Sea with just over 21 pounds for 5 largies. It is very possible for a 18 to 20 pound bag of smallmouth there too.
What are 5 keys to being successful on the Inland Sea of Champlain?
You have to know where to go catch them if the wind decides to blow. I always try to have a plan A, B and C. You need to be able to catch them deep, shallow and in the dirt sometimes.
I’m always rigged for smallmouth and largemouth even if it’s not part of my plan. Spend a lot of time idling and looking at your graphs. Lastly you can’t be scared to pull out your spinning rod and throw a weightless plastic.
What are your 5 favorite baits for fishing the Inland Sea?
My five favorite baits I would throw in the Inland Sea are
#1 – Spook, I use the Spook everywhere on Champlain. From 20′ to 1′ ft deep. Lariges and smallies.
#2 – Green & orange colored jig w/ rattles. I always have a jig tied on. When the bite is right, it’s a dangerous weapon.
#3 – Four inch green pumpkin swimbait. A great search bait for running through the weeds or open clear water.
#4 – I sometimes take it old school, and you’ll catch me throwing a slop spoon in the thick stuff.
#5 – You always need a spinning rod and a weightless Senko tied on to hit those perfect docks.
I saw a recent post of yours when the fish weren’t biting. What are your backup baits and strategies on this section of Champlain when your favorite techniques can’t get bit?
When the going gets tough, you gotta go lighter….I hate fishing this way but you gotta do what you gotta do.
All sections of Champlain can see their share of boat traffic. How do you adjust and adapt on days when there is a lot of activity?
A good friend of mine Jeff Sprague once told me it doesn’t matter how many guys are in front of you, it doesn’t mean they can catch’em! I try not to let the boat traffic bother me, but I do try to keep to myself and find those hidden spots.
Who are your sponsors and what do you like about representing each of these companies?
I am very fortunate to have the sponsors I do. I wouldn’t be able to fish without their support.
When I look for potential sponsors I try to keep them local Vermont to represent where I’m from. Local or not, I like to represent and be represented by someone who wants to be apart of my family and help each other grow. I prefer the close working environment. My sponsors are:
Dirt Tech Company
Maxon Lift Gates
Handy Buick GMC Cadillac
The Pro Agency
I also need to thank my family. My dad helped me get started in bass fishing. He cosigned on my first boat and from then on my parents and my wife have been my biggest supporters.
Thank you so much Cole for taking the time to teach us about fishing the Inland Sea on Lake Champlain. A special thanks to The Pro Agency for connecting us with Cole.
After this interview was done, Cole took first place & lunker at the Champlain Bass Series first stop out of Ticonderoga. You can follow all of Cole’s success on Instagram @thechamplainkid.