The traditional trout season is open but conditions on many of Vermont’s streams and rivers are highly variable depending on precipitation and run-off from the remaining snow in the mountains. High water has delayed some of the trout stocking in the rivers, but several lakes and ponds around the stare have been stocked with yearling brook, brown and rainbow trout.
The trophy trout stocking had begun, with the Lamoille River in Fairfax, Missisquoi River in Enosburg, and Walloomsac River in Bennington receiving their first stocking of two-year old trout, measuring 15 – 16 inches. If the weather cooperates, stocking of these big guys will continue this week.
Multiple Lake Champlain tributary streams support runs of migratory steelhead rainbow trout. These fish spend much of their life eating and growing in the lake, but they will run streams in the spring to find gravel areas to spawn.
Some of the best fishing occurs from late-March through early May. Steelhead will take similar offerings as early season trout, in addition to lures that imitate eggs and small minnows. Be sure to check the regulations before going out as the lower portions of a few of the larger rivers are closed this time of year to protect spring spawning fish.
The spring offers a unique opportunity for Lake Champlain anglers. Unlike the warm summer months, surface water temperatures remain cold and lake trout and landlocked salmon can be found swimming near the water’s surface or in shallow water close to shore this time of year.
Shore anglers and boaters who like to troll lures can have good success using lures that imitate small fish, the main food source for adult lake trout and salmon. Areas that have slightly warmer water temperatures than other parts of the lake, and shallow flats adjacent to deep water are good places to start your search.
Lake Champlain has many other fish species, many of which can be captured from shore in the spring, bullhead and carp to name a few. Be sure to check Lake Champlain fishing regulations before going out to fish as some species have closed seasons.
Walleye season opened May 4 and Lake Champlain and its tributaries – the Missisquoi, Lamoille and Winooski rivers as well as Otter Creek offer some excellent spring walleye fishing opportunities. If you’re heading north, Salem Lake and Island Pond in the Northeast Kingdom also have walleye populations.
Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River, also offer quality walleye fishing but are subject to specific regulations. Be sure to check out the 2019 Vermont Fishing Guide & Regulations for the regulations for the waters you are fishing.
Bass Catch and Release
Finally, our Spring Bass Catch and Release season is also underway. The spring catch-and-release season is a really special time to be on the water in Vermont, and the fishing can be truly spectacular. Combine warming weather, minimal boat traffic and feeding largemouth and smallmouth bass, and spring bass fishing is hard to beat.
For catch-and-release bass fishing, all bass must be immediately released after being caught and only artificial lures may be used. The use of live bait is prohibited.