I'm always on the lookout for new places to fish, hike, bike, kayak, etc. When it comes to fishing trout streams this time of year, conditions can get dicey as streams drop in level and warm up.
There are some exceptions though, and this year we've been lucky to have lots of rain and little heat until the past couple of weeks.
When streams warm too much for trout locally, it's best to leave them alone so as not to over stress them. But the last couple of years I've been trying to get more time on "tailwaters," coldwaters releases from dams that keep temperatures cold enough to fish year-round.
Last summer I took a trip up to the Little River near Waterbury, Vt, where 50-degree releases keep a tributary of the Winooski River cold all summer long. What I found was the releases had made the river almost too cold for a lot of insect or trout activity.
On Sunday I took a day to take a ride over to southern Vermont, to fish the Deerfield River.
The Deerfield River begins in the mountains of southcentral Vermont, and flows south to the Connecticut River. A series of dams creates reservoirs in Vermont and Massachusetts, most of which are maintained for recreation like fishing and boating by Great River Hydro.
Those reservoirs release water from their depths instead of the surface, so cold water keeps the Deerfield temperate most of the year. And that's good news for those of us who fish coldwater-loving trout.
I started my morning at the dam on what is known as Searsburg Reservoir, between Bennington and Wilmington, Vt. I pulled in just as two other fishermen were gearing up, and they beat me to what looked to be the lone access spot the tailwater there. So I headed to north to Somerset Reservoir, accessible by a dirt road heading into the mountains near Mount Snow.
I arrived to find a beautiful park on the reservoir, with people fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking and picnicking. I made my way to the stream running from the reservoir, and found a fast, cold river of riffles and pocket water. I found a nice pool a few hundred yards down, and landed a spunky brook trout of about 9 inches.
I found company here as well. It appeared I was far from the only trout angler with the tailwater idea on a summer Sunday morning. I explored the trails around the reservoir a bit, found some nice coves and a couple of smallmouth bass that like Rooster Tail spinners.
My next goal was the tailwater below the massive Harriman Reservoir, the big impoundment that can be seen off Vermont Route 9 when you drive between Bennington and Brattleboro. The drive to the south end of the Harriman was a long one, and I found a group of fly fishermen working the pools there as well. So I decided to follow the river south. There was so nice pocket water in Readsboro, though access was difficult.
I didn't realize how quickly I would be in Massachusetts, and without a Massachusetts fishing license, I halted my Deerfield fishing outing. But it was clear that this stretch of the river appeared to be very good trout water, as well as beloved by tubers, kayakers and whitewater rafters. Hundreds were on the river, and there was virtually no way any angler could have fished amid the traffic. I didn't see any who were trying.
Still, it was a nice outing to some new territory on a beautiful day. There is plenty of public access to these beautiful waterways in the mountains of Vermont. If you head to these reservoirs and the Deerfield on a summer weekend though, prepare for plenty of company.
It's also a long day from the Glens Falls area. In all, I put nearly 300 miles on my car on the day, returning via North Adams up to Pownal, Vermont.
(I found this Flyfisherman magazine article with some more details on the fishery for those who may want to head over.)
The trip, and my visit to Waterbury last year, and bass fishing tales from friends who fish the Tomhannock Reservoir in Rensselaer County makes me wonder why the city of Glens Falls still doesn't allow passive recreational access to its reservoirs in Queensbury.
-- Don Lehman