Steelhead Rainbow Trout Will Soon Be Jumping

23 April 2019

ORLEANS, Vt. – One of the state’s premier wildlife watching opportunities will soon be taking place in Vermont. The steelhead rainbow trout have started their upstream migration, leaping up waterfalls in a spectacular display of determination on their way to their spawning grounds.


Steelhead can be spotted moving up the falls during warmer days in mid to late April into early May during years with high, cold water such as this one.  The best times to spot the fish leaping the falls are in the late morning and early afternoon as the sun is hitting the waters. 


While Willoughby Falls in Orleans is the best place to spot jumping steelhead, other places to see them in Vermont include Coventry Falls on the Black River in Coventry and Lewis Creek Falls in North Ferrisburgh.  Willoughby Falls and a section of river upstream are closed to fishing until June 1 to protect the fish while they are spawning, although there are great fishing opportunities a short way downstream from the falls. 


On Saturday, May 4, fisheries biologist Pete Emerson will be available at Willoughby Falls to observe the steelhead spawning migration and talk with the public from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Emerson will be there to answer questions about the fish, the river, and the state-owned lands that border the river much of the way to Lake Memphremagog. There is no need to register – just show up any time during the four-hour period!


“Many people may not realize that there are opportunities to watch fish in Vermont just like there are for birds and mammals,” said Pete Emerson, fisheries biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  “Witnessing these trout migrate is a powerful reminder of the importance of maintaining healthy and connected waters to allow fish to thrive. We’re working to conserve Vermont’s waterways and the surrounding habitats so that future generations can continue to witness this incredible migration each spring.”  


For Immediate Release:  April 23, 2019

Media Contacts:  Pete Emerson 802-751-0485


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Commissioner Louis Porter

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.