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

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