Largemouth and smallmouth bass in Berlin Pond will be protected by a new catch-and-release “Test Water” designation being adopted by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
A recent Vermont Supreme Court decision regarding Berlin Pond clarified that fishing is currently allowed on the pond, after being restricted for decades. Much of the shoreline around the pond is posted against trespass, so would-be anglers must access the pond only where allowed.
Studies of unexploited fish populations, like those in Berlin Pond, suggest these populations often have a high proportion of old, slow-growing fish which are very vulnerable to angling when opened to fishing.
“Research from other states indicates that when bass populations are open to fishing for the first time, quality sized bass can be quickly reduced,” said State Fisheries Biologist Rich Kirn. “It is our goal to maintain a quality bass fishery in Berlin Pond for the long term. To do that, we will need time to study its fish population and newly developing fishery. The temporary catch-and- release designation will provide the time we need to do this while still allowing anglers to enjoy catching this popular sportfish.”
Based on fisheries surveys done on Berlin Pond by Fish & Wildlife in 1979 and 1995, the pond contains largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, and brown bullhead. According to a 2010 Vermont Angler Survey largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are among the top five most popular fish species sought by Vermont anglers.
Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry has signed the test water designation which takes effect on June 15, six days after the opening of bass season on June 9.
“Unfortunately, the reporting requirements for the Test Water designation did not allow us to have the regulation in effect for opening day. We encourage anglers to limit their harvest during this time until our biologists have the time to better understand the bass population,” says Berry. “The department is also eager to work with the City of Montpelier and Town of Berlin to find common ground to cooperatively manage future fishing and boat access to help protect the area.”
The Berlin Pond Test Water Restriction will remain in effect until November 30, 2015.