Anglers are finding some very good trout fishing on many Vermont stream sections, including on some rivers that were hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene. The key is finding good habitat, sometimes upstream or downstream of areas that were changed during or after the storm.
Streams are very dynamic systems and flooding is a natural process that helps to shape trout habitat. Pools are scoured, trees may fall into the channel and create new hiding cover, and spawning gravels are refreshed. While the pool you once fished may have filled in, another one was likely created. Vermont’s wild brook, brown and rainbow trout have evolved with floods so where habitat conditions are good, you can expect to find trout.
State Fisheries Scientist Chet MacKenzie, working out of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Rutland office, points out that stream fishing this spring has been excellent.
“Although there are certain reaches of rivers that have been seriously impacted by Tropical Storm Irene and post storm reconstruction efforts,” said MacKenzie, “the fishing in many rivers and streams in southwestern Vermont this spring has been the best I have seen or heard about in the last 26 years. It is probably due to the warm water temperatures and low flows we had on opening weekend which made the fish hungry and anglers willing to stay on the rivers.”
“I’ve seen pictures of or heard of many large fish caught from the Middlebury, Poultney, Mettawee, Neshobe, and Castleton Rivers, Otter Creek and Furnace Brook,” added MacKenzie.
“I recently spoke to two non-resident anglers that were under the impression that Vermont rivers had been devastated by last summer’s flood,” he added. “I had to explain there were many places left to fish in the state and fishing this spring has been fantastic.”
Brian Chipman, State Fisheries Scientist in Essex Junction, is seeing similar stream fishing opportunities for anglers in his area of the state.
“The rivers in northwestern Vermont came out of last year’s floods in very good shape, and anglers found nearly ideal opening week fishing conditions,” said Chipman. “In fact, for the first time ever, conditions allowed us to complete our first two-year old brown trout stocking prior to opening day in the Lamoille River trophy section in Fairfax, and many anglers took advantage of the opportunity.”
While stocking of most other waters will be done later this spring, wild trout provide the bulk of early season catches.
“Some of the best wild trout fishing in my district can be found in sections of the Winooski River in Richmond and Bolton, the Lamoille River in Cambridge and Johnson, and the Missisquoi River in Westfield and Troy,” Chipman said.