I try to take a few days off in mid to late May each year to spend some time on our trout streams. This is usually the time of year where they are in prime fishing shape, snowmelt is gone, levels haven't dropped too much or temperatures risen to high.
This spring has obviously been cool and wet, but my work schedule made this week the best one for me to get a few days on the water.
So the last thing I wanted to see was the downpours we had over the weekend. Two to three inches of rain pushed the Mettawee, Batten Kill, Castleton, Schroon and my other favorite streams to unfishable levels, unfortunately.
But in watching the radar Sunday, I noticed that the storms seemed to be sparing southern Washington County and southern Vermont. The USGS water data website showed a couple of streams that I've hit a few times, the Walloomsac and Hoosic rivers, seemed to be at less-than-blown-out levels.
I've fished the Walloomsac a bit, and haven't quite found what all the hype is about, frankly.
Vermont stocks it with "trophy" rainbow trout of 20 inches or so, and that results in a lot of interest. It seems to be heavily fished, and as I headed down there Monday morning, I found plenty of company at some of the better public access spots in the town of Hoosick and near Bennington, Vermont.
So I headed south to the Hoosic and Little Hoosic rivers, looking at public fishing rights maps (the DEC's website has plenty of them) and Google maps for likely spots.
One tip I have picked up in scouting streams via online maps is that you can often tell by a stream's twists and turns where decent spots are. Where tributaries enter are often good places to try as well.
Where there are sharp bends, there will likely be pools, undercut banks or nice runs. As I roamed down to Petersburg, south of Hoosick Falls, and Pownal, Vermont, I found some great spots, cooperative rainbow trout and beautiful scenery as well as no one else at some nice spots.
It was nice to get into some wild rainbow trout, as unfortunately the Mettawee River's wild rainbows seem to have been surpassed by brown trout in Granville and Pawlet, Vt. Stocky wild rainbows on ultralight tackle are a great battle.
The Hoosic is a big, mostly warmwater fishery along the Washington County line, but heading upstream into extreme southern Vermont, it becomes a smaller, freestone stream in places with nice runs, and plenty of public access.
With more rain coming Thursday, it's not looking for good stream levels on our home rivers up this way anytime soon. But little more than an hour drive away are a few streams that are worth traveling to when the weather conditions dictate.
-- Don Lehman