Big brown

This early season brown trout was caught in southern Vermont in recent years.

There are few people who treasure the fishing on our region's trout streams more than me. But when the April 1 season opener rolls around, I rarely hit the water.

This spring is one of those where warmer weather is struggling to arrive, and most streams around our region (particularly to the north) were socked in by snow as of Tuesday.

Chances are a lot of that snow will disappear over the next couple of days, as two rainstorms are coming. But that rain will also likely push stream levels up, so conditions probably won't be very good come Sunday.

(Of course, as opening day falls on a weekend, if stream levels don't go up too much and I have a couple of spare hours, it might be tough to fight off the urge to wet a line!)

With streams still very cold, don't expect much stocking to occur, and trout pond ice out is still weeks away around the Adirondacks.

That said, while it can be tough and cold to fish this time of year, success can be had. Trout activity picks up during warm days and times of day, such as sunny afternoons. Big bait worked in pools can lure some lunkers. Every year I hear about some 20-plus inch trout coming out of the Batten Kill, Mettawee River and Schroon River early in the season.

The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife sent out a news release Monday about the April 14 opening day in Vermont, which has some good tips. It is pasted below. (The picture attached is of an early season monster brown caught in Shaftsbury in recent years). Vermont's wild trout management practices have made for some good fishing on streams like the Mettawee, Batten Kill, Poultney River and Walloomsac, among others, just east of our region.

If you are heading out in New York on Sunday or in the next week or two, go south. Streams like the Kayaderosseras Creek, Snook Kill and others that don't drain snow-covered mountains generally won't be as high or as cold as the streams that run out of the Adirondacks or Green Mountains.

-- Don Lehman

MONTPELIER, Vt. –  Vermont’s traditional trout fishing season is set to open on Saturday, April 14, and despite recent cold weather and lingering snow cover across the state, officials from Vermont Fish & Wildlife say anglers can be successful early in the season by following a few basic tips.

“Just like any other time of year, anglers fishing early in the spring should adjust their tactics based on the conditions,” said State Fisheries Biologist Bret Ladago.  “Given the cold weather and runoff from recent storms and snow melt, water levels will be high, flows will be faster than normal and water temperatures will be cold. 

“As a result, anglers may want to target small to medium low-elevation rivers and streams where flows are slow and waters will warm more quickly,” added Ladago.  “Finding water that isn’t too muddy can be key, and slowing your lure or bait retrieval will help tempt sluggish trout into biting.”

Trout will often hold close to the bottom in the deeper areas of streams during high flow conditions to conserve energy.  Choose locations and tactics that allow you to fish your bait or lure right along the bottom.  Ladago said that fishing slowly with worms or spinners through deep holes behind current breaks created by big boulders, downed trees or log-jams can be productive for early season trout.

Vermont is known for its excellent and diverse fishing opportunities for wild trout.  Trout stocking in streams and rivers generally occurs in May, following spring runoff, so most early season fishing is entirely supported by wild trout. 

“Angling success may be improved by focusing on waters known to hold wild fish,” said Ladago.  “Despite unpredictable weather during early spring, each year anglers report catching impressive trout during opening weekend.”

Anglers who like to fish and release their catch don’t need to wait for opening day.  There are year-round catch-and-release fishing opportunities for trout and bass in Vermont.  See pages 35-36 of the 2018 Vermont Fishing Guide and Regulations for a list of rivers open to year-round trout fishing.

The Guide is a helpful tool for planning a fishing trip as it includes maps showing rivers and lakes, as well as fishing access areas and public lands for fishing and hunting.  It also lists the fish species found in each body of water.  Copies are available free where fishing licenses are sold or by calling the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department at 802-828-1000.  A digital version is available on Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s website www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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