Catch-and-release bass season underway

Warmer weather and increased feeding activity by largemouth and smallmouth bass offer a great opportunity for fast catch-and-release bass fishing action in Vermont before the regular season starts the second Saturday in June. (Courtesy photo)

ESSEX — Vermont’s catch-and-release bass fishing is underway with some of the hottest bass fishing action in New England happening right now.

“Spring catch-and-release bass fishing is a really special time to be on the water in Vermont, and the fishing can be truly spectacular,” said Bernie Pientka, state fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish and Wildlife. “Combine warming weather, minimal boat traffic and feeding largemouth and smallmouth bass, and spring bass fishing is hard to beat.”

Vermont’s catch-and-release bass fishing runs until June 13, when the regular bass season opens, and the harvesting of bass is allowed.

A full listing of waters and applicable regulations can be found in the 2020 Vermont Fishing Guide & Regulations, or by using the Online Fishing Regulations Tool found at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

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 also prohibited during the catch-and-release season.

Department Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good says pre-spawn bass fishing provides outstanding angling opportunities at a time when bass are congregating but haven’t started spawning yet, and has very little impact on spawning success.

Fish and Wildlife has assembled a few basic tips for anglers heading out to fish for bass during the spring catch-and-release season.

Let water temperatures dictate your tactics and lure choices. Often fishing slowly on the bottom with jig-style baits can be most effective shortly after ice-out. As water temperatures begin to rise into the 48- to 58-degree range and fish feeding activity increases, moving baits such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits and stickbaits can be big producers.

Look for rocky shorelines and marshy back bays. Shallow, gradual rocky shorelines consisting of ledge, chunk rock, gravel or boulders will hold heat and warm up first, attracting baitfish and ultimately feeding smallmouth and largemouth bass. Marshy, weedy bays will also warm up quickly and will attract numbers of largemouth bass in various stages of their springtime movements.

Pay attention to the clues. If you catch a fish, get a bite, or see a fish follow your lure, take another pass through the same area. Many fish will often stack up on the same structure during the spring as they transition from winter to spring and summer haunts.

To purchase a fishing license or learn more about fishing in Vermont, visit vtfishandwildlife.com.

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