Thoughts On The Out-Of-Doors: Trout Fishing Opens Saturday In Vermont

Oak stops by his favorite hangout, the Littleton Freehouse On April Fools' Day.

Vermont’s traditional trout fishing season opens Saturday, April 10. The fishing during the early days of the season is usually slow as the water is high and cold but dedicated anglers have to give it a try.

“Just like any other time of year, anglers fishing early in the spring should adjust their tactics based on conditions,” said State Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good. “Trout will become more active with warmer water temperatures, and despite an early spring, most streams and rivers are still quite cold. But if you can find a good location and present your bait or lure without spooking the trout, you can enjoy getting outside and you have a good chance of catching a few fish.”

“Finding a small to medium low-elevation river or stream that is not too murky from spring runoff can be key. Trout are coldblooded and may be slow to bite especially with low water temperatures, so it’s important that they can also see your bait, lure or fly.”

Larger baits can often be more effective for enticing early-season trout into biting. Spin-anglers should try nightcrawlers, egg imitations, or bright-colored spoons and spinners. Fly anglers may find success in the early season by drifting large, more visible flies such as wooly buggers, streamers, or San Juan worms along the bottom in slower pools and runs.

Trout will often hold close to the bottom in the deeper areas of streams during high flow conditions to conserve energy. Fishing slow and deep is often the key to success.

It doesn’t really matter if the fish are biting. Just being out on a stream or pond casting after a long winter makes us all feel better. We know that as the temperature rises and the water levels recede, the fish will start feeding and we will start catching.

In the meantime, it is just nice to be outside in a most beautiful part of the world.

Bits and Pieces

Great news! The AMC will open its high huts June 3. Their closing last year was a big loss to hikers.

There will be restrictions due to COVID, especially with the bunkrooms, but they will be staffed and open.

***

The winners of the 2020 New Hampshire Trophy Fish Program have been announced by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Big Diamond Pond in West Stewartstown, produced a lake trout that weighed 37 pounds, 10.4 ounces and was 42.125 inches long. It shattered a 62-year record in the state by more than 9 pounds.

Thomas Knight of Meredith, NH, now holds a new record throughout all of New England with this catch.

A new record-sized channel catfish was taken from the Connecticut River in Chesterfield by Matthew Smith of Marlow, NH., tipping the scales at 15 pounds, 5.28 ounces.

For a full listing of all the entries for 2020, records, statistics, forms, and more, visit NH Fish and Game’s website at https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing/trophy.html.

***

New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Learn to Hunt Turkeys series continue on Zoom Thursday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

The topic is Turkey Hunting Tips and Tactics.

To join, click the link below:

Or Telephone:

Dial: US: +1 646 876 9923

Webinar ID: 813 7466 8120

***

April 1 marked the official start of the open-water fishing season on New Hampshire’s large lakes, which are managed for landlocked salmon and lake trout, including Big Squam Lake, Lake Sunapee, and Lake Winnipesaukee.

Thanks to mild conditions and strong winds, substantial portions of Lake Winnipesaukee are already free of ice this year.

***

Vermont Fish and Wildlife is asking drivers to slow down and be cautious when traveling at night in early spring or to take alternate routes to avoid driving near ponds and wetlands where salamanders and frogs are crossing during their breeding season.

Fish and Wildlife, the Agency of Transportation and other conservation partners assess the need for wildlife passages and barriers in road construction plans that allow all wildlife, not just frogs and salamanders, to more safely cross roadways.

Fish and Wildlife herpetologist Luke Groff is encouraging Vermonters to report amphibian road crossings by sending him an email to Luke.Groff@vermont.gov. If you can safely take photos of the amphibian species crossing, please include them.

***

Mark Breen reports in the Fairbanks Museum’s Skywatch Almanac that on April 1, 2001: “Record snow depth in northern Vermont; 2 feet in valleys, 4 feet over higher elevations.”

Parting Shots

The Appalachian Trail traverses some of the most scenic areas of Vermont and New Hampshire so it is hard to choose a section for a short hike. Two weeks ago Don Kollisch and I hiked the AT from Cloudland Road in Pomfet south to a point where the views of the Green Mountains to the south and west were awesome.

It was a warm sunny day and we wanted to get in a short hike before the trails at lower elevations turned to mud. Most of the snow was gone but the trail was still solid as the snow had been packed down from winter hikers so all we needed was microspikes.

This is a beautiful section of the AT. It climbs sharply in a few sections and, after about a mile, leads to a cleared lookout with views towards Killington and Okemo where we stopped for lunch.

This is the time of year that care is needed when choosing a trail to hike. The trails are often muddy and prone to erosion. Walking outside the trail just widens the trail and causes more damage, some of it long-term.

If you get to a trailhead and find it muddy, you should look for another place to hike as it is likely the rest of the trail will be muddy also. If you look around you can find trails that dry out early and are suitable for hiking this time of year.

***

The joke was on us April Fools’ Day. We went from temperatures in the low 60s on March 31 to nearly freezing with cold rain and snow on April 1.

The official start of the fishing season for landlocked salmon and lake trout on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee comes on April 1 each year. Like so many others, I like to head to the big lake to fine small sections of open water and make a few casts. It is seldom productive, but a rite of spring.

Thursday was not the day for a trip to the Big W to try and fish.

However, Linda’s crocuses starting bloom while poking above the snow make me believe spring is actually going to arrive if we just have patients.

***

Easter turned out to be a nice sunny day with the thermometer climbing into the mid-50s. It was a good day to be outside getting some exercise.

Following an Easter sunrise service with Linda and some work around the house, I met up with Don Kollisch to drive to the eastern side of Mount Moosilauke. It has been our tradition to ski the Merrill Ski Loop with friends sometime in April long after there is no skiable snow in much of the region. It is the last time we are on cross-county skis for the season.

We had taken our snowshoes and hiked up 1.7 miles along the Baker River on the Asquam Ridge Trail to the second of the narrow footbridges that cross the river. The trail and the Merrill Ski Loop are one and the same for 2.1 miles until the latter climbs to the east while the former heads north.

Our plan was to check out the section along the river to see if the Merrill would be skiable in a week or two. Where there is often four feet of snow at this time most years, there was only 12 to 18 inches and often bare ground where water ran down or across the trail. It was obvious we would not be skiing the trail this year and I had to let our usual crew we were too late.

Syndicated columnist Gary W. Moore may be reached by email at gwmoore1946@icloud.com or at Box 454, Bradford, VT 05033.

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