Hunting opening day trout with a fly rod | Local News

The opening day of Vermont trout season is April 13, and anglers across Bennington County are eager to get out on the water.

The start of the season is always difficult and not for the faint-hearted. Water temperatures during the second week of April in the Battenkill River Valley can average 38 degrees on a good day. Considering that brown trout normally feed between 44 and 75 degrees and optimally between 52 and 62 degrees, early season anglers can expect a lot of slow days to start, but gradually increase their catch as the season progresses. April advances.

Not only water temperature is a factor, but water flow in general. Cut stone tributaries in combination with natural spring-fed rivers make Vermont a virtual fly fishing playground.

However, early season fly anglers are at a disadvantage compared to their spinning rod and bait angler cousins. Fishing rods offer a high degree of efficiency and can cover different water depths and distances in a short time. A simple split shot and Panther Martin in mid-water can be three to five times more effective than endless streamer fly casting with a flowing line.

Fly fishing has a much lower trout mortality rate than casting and bait fishing. Fly fishing can always offer a better chance for trout to be caught, released, and survive the experience.

Proper handling, netting, and knowledge of their anatomy can help you help them. Bait fishing, while the most effective method of catching trout early in the season and virtually year-round, can often be the deadliest experience a trout can survive. As fish tend to eat naturally and swallow live bait, the end result is normally an ingested barbed hook into the stomach lining from which they cannot survive.

Bait fishing, while highly deadly, may also be the most effective way to harvest trout. Trout harvesting in Vermont is legal in rivers and sections of rivers designated by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

There are many opportunities for anglers to catch and keep, but just as many opportunities for anglers to catch and release throughout Bennington County.

Southwestern Vermont’s river systems, including Battenkill, Walloomsac, Mettawee, Hoosic, and their tributaries, are all blessed with freestone flow and spring-feeding. A freestone stream is a stream that changes in altitude and speed. It is characterized by water flows generated by melting ice and therefore affected seasonally.

Tributaries such as the Roaring Branch, Green River, Bromley Creek and others can be filled with their fair share of a strong native brook trout population. Brook trout are the only species native to the Battenkill. On the Vermont side, the last time the Battenkill was stocked with brown trout was in 1972. The Battenkill is arguably the most famous and iconic river in the state, if not in American history of fly fishing.

Historically, the Battenkill had its best days before becoming a wild fishery. Those days, I hear, were filled with happy inn owners, fishing tackle shops, and various foods and treats that no longer exist or haven’t changed with the times. There are many black and white images in Bennington County antique stores, retail stores, and municipal offices that adorn this era.

Bamboo fly rods, white shirts, ties, hip boots and woven baskets seem to be in fashion as it was the latest technology at the time. Lightweight, packable, breathable waders, hard-bottom boots with carbide lugs, and hybrid thermoplastic/thermosetting composites adorn the latest fly fishing rods and gear. Google Maps has searched hide and seek to find the best fishing spots, and modern day fly fisherman are minimalists. A rod, a reel, a simple tether with a small fly box, good intelligence and some tenacity are in, and the big bulging vest is out.

In order to learn the sport of fly fishing in the years before the internet, one had to read voraciously or learn by tribal knowledge. The local flight shop was the only WiFi hotspot available at that time and soon after Blockbuster video made informative access to the sport easy and readily available.

As the smartphone has made every aspect of sport accessible in your living room or on the river, many hidden mysteries of sport are uncovered with a simple search, but the only way to fully enjoy sport is to get outside. and disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.

First and foremost, safety is of the utmost importance. Early season high water flow can be very dangerous and deadly for the experienced and beginner; Normally, I never wade above my knees for safety. If you are an early season angler, beware of the dangers that linger on the water. A clear, sunny day can also give you hypothermia. A Norwegian client once told me: “There is no bad weather, only unsuitable clothes” and it stuck. It is best to underlay with microfibers such as polypropylene and a middle layer with natural fibers such as merino wool. Cotton is a poor choice in colder climates because it absorbs water and holds it close to the skin. Moisture in the form of perspiration can adhere to a person’s skin, does not come off cotton easily, and can freeze.

In addition to base layers, mid layers, insulation layers and a shell layer are needed to maintain core body temperature for long periods of time. An insulating layer is needed to provide warmth, and something as simple as a puffy jacket will do. The outer layer is one of the most important in keeping you impervious to rain and breathable enough not to sweat. Taped or welded seams are essential to provide all day protection against the element of water. The shell layer also allows the whole system to work efficiently. Not only does it deter water, but more importantly, it provides a windproof barrier for the insulation layer to work. Once you live in cold climates long enough, everyone seems to have their system for staying warm, however, this normally breaks down when things get humid.

When you wade in the rivers at this time of year, you learn to manage your clothing system. You can strategically open zippers to cool off before you sweat, or you can just slow down your activity level. If you need to warm up, do it by being active and bring your best hot drink.

Ray Berumen is the owner and guide of Taconic Guide Service in Manchester. Find it online at

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