For Vermonters who love hunting and fishing, there are two dates on the calendar that are holy days of obligation — the first day of rifle/shotgun season for deer hunting, and the first day of trout fishing.
The 2022 trout season begins this Saturday, April 9, and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says anglers should be aware of a few rule changes for this year — mainly that you can now fish year-round using artificial lures and flies for almost any species in any water, if you practice catch and release, and that you can now keep up to eight of any combination of brook, brown or rainbow trout, per day, from Vermont’s streams and rivers.
A helpful overview of the new fishing regulations can be found at vtfishandwildlife.com/new-2022-fishing-regulations-overview. You can also check the 2022 Vermont Fishing Guide and Regulations, which is available free from license agents around the state.
Rivers and brooks around southern Vermont are still running high due to all the rain and snow melt from the last couple of weeks, so catching fish becomes more challenging in the early part of trout season.
“Just like any other time of year, anglers fishing early in the spring should adjust their tactics based on conditions,” State Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good said in a news release. “Trout will become more active with warmer water temperatures. If you can find a good location and present your bait or lure without spooking the trout, you’ll have a good chance of catching a few fish, and enjoy a nice day outside.”
Good adds that 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 is 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. Choose locations and tactics that allow you to fish using a slow retrieval right along the bottom. Focus on deep holes behind current breaks created by big boulders, downed trees or log-jams where trout may be resting. If possible, approach the hole from downstream as trout will often orient themselves facing the current.
While Vermont offers excellent and diverse fishing opportunities for wild trout, stocking also occurs in many lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers where wild trout populations are low or absent. This generally happens in April and May each year once the ice has melted and following spring runoff.
“Early in the season, like on opening weekend, you’ll probably have more success if you focus on waters known to hold wild trout,” said Good. “Despite unpredictable weather during early spring, each year anglers report catching impressive trout during opening weekend.”
Good also reminds anglers to check the department’s website frequently as updates are made to the Trout Stocking page. “This is a great tool for anglers to see what nearby waters have been stocked, as the page gets updated several times per week,” said Good. Visit anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/FishStockingSchedule.aspx and click the “See What’s Been Stocked” button to stay informed as the spring progresses.
Take a hike? Not just yet…
• Mud Season is in full swing, and the Green Mountain Club, the keepers of the Long Trail and other hiking spots around Vermont, asks hikers to stay off muddy, high-elevation trails until hiking season kicks off in late May.
“Mud is not a durable surface, and continued foot traffic will both create a mess for summer and cause long-term trail damage,” the GMC said in a news release. “If you encounter impassable mud (you shouldn’t sink more than half an inch), turn back toward the trailhead.”
Many state forest trails are closed, and the GMC asks hikers to avoid using trails with mud, even if they are not officially closed. High elevation peaks such as Mount Mansfield (4,395 feet) and Camel’s Hump (4,081 feet) will still have ice and snow into early June.
Whether you’re hiking or mountain biking, be sure to check trail conditions ahead of time. Visit the Vermont Department Forest, Parks, & Recreation website (fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/mud-season) for a list of open and closed trails around the state, join the GMC Facebook Group for real-time feedback on conditions, or call GMC’s virtual Visitor Center at 802-244-7037.
BOC sets summer paddling schedule
• The Brattleboro Outing Club (BOC) will host 14 paddle trips, from April 30 to Sept. 17. Details will also be posted on www.BrattleboroOutingClub.org at “Summer Paddling.”
“Paddling is good for both body and soul,” wrote Larry McIntosh, the BOC paddling organizer, in an email to The Commons. “It allows us to exercise, as well as getting into nature, away from the four walls, into a clean, safe and open environment.”
But since the COVID-19 pandemic has not completely disappeared, McIntosh said that “it is especially important to protect ourselves, as well as those around us. Safe and healthy paddling requires us to be more conscious of our surroundings and actions.”
He offered the following guidelines “to help make us all more responsible paddlers” during the upcoming season:
• Follow all CDC guidelines, as well as state and local requirements regarding masks, physical distancing and group sizes when and where appropriate.
• Be able to load, unload, and move your own boat/board. In the event you have to ask for help, or offer help, be conscious of physical distancing.
• Always wear your life jacket while paddling.
• If you are not able (or don’t know how) to rescue yourself in the event of a tip-over, and the water is deeper than your waist, paddle near the shore, where you can swim or walk your boat to safety. Requiring rescue endangers both you and the person coming to your aid, since physical distancing parameters will be compromised.
• Be self-sufficient and responsible. Keep track of your own trash and recycle.
BOC paddle trips are free and open to the public. Just show up with your own boat/board, required safety gear, and food/water. All trips are full-day outings, except the Sunrise trip, on Saturday, June 25. Come prepared to picnic. Trips are as follows:
• Saturday, April 30: Connecticut River/Hinsdale setbacks. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Walmart parking lot (Rte 119), Hinsdale, N.H.
• Wednesday, May 4: McDaniels Marsh, Springfield, N.H. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Hannaford parking lot (south end), Putney Road, Brattleboro, (or at the marsh, 10:30 a.m.)
• Sunday, May 15: Gale Meadows Pond, Winhall. Meet at 9 a.m., at the West River Provisions store, (old Jamaica Country Store), Jamaica, on Route 30.
• Wednesday, June 15: Grafton Pond, Grafton, N.H. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Hannaford parking lot in Brattleboro, (or at the pond, 10:30 a.m.)
• Saturday, June 25: Sunrise Paddle & Nosh, Pot-luck, Harriman Reservoir, Wilmington. Meet at 5:30 a.m., Chelsea Royal Diner, Marlboro Road (Route 9), West Brattleboro (or the Castle Hill put-in at 6 a.m.)
• Sunday, June 26: Somerset Reservoir, Somerset. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Coffee House, Wilmington, (Junction of Route 9 West and 100 South).
• Wednesday, July 6: Spoonwood Pond, Hancock and Nelson, N.H. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro, (or at the ramp to Nubanusit Lake, on Kings Highway, off Route 123, at 10 a.m.)
• Sunday, Aug. 21: Connecticut River: Bellows Falls to Walpole, N.H. (with a stop at Walpole Creamery). Meet at 9 a.m, Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro, (or at the portage trail put-in, on the New Hampshire side, off Route 12, below the dam, at 10 a.m.)
• Saturday, Aug. 27: Connecticut River, Sumner Falls/Hartland Rapids to Wilgus State Park, Weathersfield, Vt. Meet at the Wilgus State Park entrance parking lot, off Route 5, at 9 a.m. This can be an overnight camping for folks who have reserved a space, paid the $10 fee, and have their own gear and food. Space is limited; reservations (and fee) are due by July 19 to: BOC, P.O. Box 6294, Brattleboro, VT 05302. Checks made out to BOC, with “Paddling/Camping” on the “For” line. Checks will be returned to those who cannot be accommodated.
• Sunday, Aug. 28: North Hartland Lake, Hartford and Hartland, Vt. Meet at Wilgus State Park, entrance parking lot, off Route 5, at 9 a.m. (or at the lake at 10 a.m.)
• Wednesday, Aug. 3: Lowell Lake, Londonderry. Meet at 8:30 a.m., at the West River Provisions store in Jamaica.
• Sunday, Sept. 11: Sadawga Pond, Whitingham. Meet at 9 a.m., at the Coffee House, Wilmington.
• Wednesday, Sept. 14: Sunset Lake and South Pond. A two-lake, fall foliage special. Meet at 9 a.m., at the Royal Diner in West Brattleboro.
• Saturday, Sept. 17: Somerset Reservoir. Meet at 8:30 a.m., at the Coffee House, Wilmington.
Details about where and when to meet for each trip are also posted on the BOC website. There’s also a list of recommended items to bring on every paddle trip.
Need a kayak, paddle board, or other watercraft? The annual BOC Consignment Sale & Swap of human and wind-powered watercraft is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, at noon. McIntosh said the location is still be determined, and will be announced in a few weeks. For more information, contact him at 802-254-3666, or Lmacyak@gmail.com.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 13 of the winter/spring 2022 season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on March 31 saw first place Trash-O-Matic (45-20) have a 4-1 week, while Stayin’ Alive (34-26) went 4-1 to move into second. Bowling Stones (36-29) had a 1-4 week to drop down into third place, followed by The 844s (34-31), Slow Movers (31-34), The Anythings (28-37), A Rose/Tulips (27-38), and Good Times (20-45).
Jeanne Czuy had the women’s high handicap game (247), while Nancy Dalzell had the high handicap series (653). Chuck Adams had the men’s high handicap game (278), while Robert Rigby had the high handicap series (688). Stayin’ Alive had the high team handicap game (953) and series (2,543).
In scratch scoring, Rigby led the men with a 673 series that featured games of 247, 224, and 202. Chuck Adams had a 660 series with games of 278 and 181. Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 608 series with a 255 game.
Five men had 500-plus series — Jerry Dunham (592, with games of 212, 191, and 189), Marty Adams (587, with a 247 game), Gary Montgomery (506, with a 202 game), Fred Ashworth (505, with a 200 game), and Pete Cross (501, with a 192 game). Notable games included Duane Schillemat (208) and Charlie Marchant (186).
Dalzell had the women’s high scratch series (512), and game (190). Shirley Aiken had a 178 game, Carol Gloski rolled a 176, and Czuy had a 170 game.