July 2012 – Newsletter

Volume: 3
Issue: 7
Circulated: 07/05/2012

Vermont Trout Stocking

Every year in the state of Vermont thousands of Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout are stocked in the local rivers and streams. These trout are raised in 5 different fish hatcheries located around the state, which now produce about 1 million trout annually. In 1993 the state came up with a management plan to help decide which bodies of water should be stocked in order to rebuild the trout population throughout the state. The two larger rivers around The Fly Rod Shop that are annually stocked are the Winooski River and the Lamoille River.

The section of the Lamoille River that is a short drive from the shop and if often used for our instructional fly fishing tours stretches from Wolcott to Johnson. This past year the Lamoille River in this section was stocked with approximately 5,200 year-old Rainbow trout ranging from about 10.5 inches to 11.2 inches. These fish were not all released in one area, the were spread out over the 4 towns and released in 6 different locations.

The Winooski River is the other large stream close to The Fly Rod Shop that also produces trout and is used for our stream guided trips. The section of the Winooski that we most often fish is between the towns of Waterbury and Duxbury. This year that section of river was stocked with 2,000 2 year-old Rainbow Trout, all about 15 inches in length. In addition to the Rainbow Trout there was also 700 2 year- old Brown Trout stocked this year, all about 18.5 inches in length. This particular section of the Winooski River is considered to be a “Trophy Section” because of the size of the fish that are stocked there every year, which means it’s great for catching big fish!

When the Fish and Wildlife Department stock these fish they use a 3-year cycle of fin clips to mark the trout in certain areas. The Winooski River is one of the bodies of water that follows the clipped fin cycle. In 2010 the left ventral fin was clipped on all trout, in 2011 it was the adipose fin, and in 2012 it was the right ventral fin. The fins on the trout stocked in the Lamoille River are no longer clipped.

Currently about 45% of all the fish in Vermont have been stocked, however the state does still have a healthy population of native Brook Trout in many of its small lakes and streams. Here at The Fly Rod Shop our guides all carry a “Voluntary Fishing Diary” provided by the state of Vermont. In this diary we record the information about all the fish we catch on the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers, such as the location, time of day, fish species, length, and which (if any) fins were clipped. The data that we collect is then sent back to the state at the end of the season and used to help gain insight on the effects of the trout stocking.

June Fly Fishing & Mystery Rainbows

These first couple weeks this June have proved to be really great fly fishing for trout. The Lamoille River has been holding trout in very good numbers; while the catch rate in the Winooski follows in second place, possibly due to the slightly higher flow levels–not fully conducive to fishing with floating line in all sections.

Both nymphing and dry fly action were equally as good. My client’s successes were primarily on nymphs in the dead drift and on the swing. The fly that seemed to work best for us was a simple reddish brown caddis with a tungsten bead head and hot pink tag. The rainbows appear to find trigger colors like hot pink and fluorescent orange more than irresistible. However there were reports of epic evenings where anglers were skittering Elk Hair caddis across the current seams.

The one interesting aspect to all of this was the trout themselves. We were catching a combination of both wild and stockie rainbows. But it is the stockies that hold the fascination in this instance. And in fact I ran across similar fish in the Winooski down stream of the Mad River. They were plump, brightly colored with a deep red strip running into the gill plate, exhibited large dark as night black dots, had no clipped fins and measured around an average of 12 to13.5 inches. The things that gave them away were the more rounded head shape and tiny dots along the leading edges of the pectoral fins. But where did VT F&W get these specimens with Irene’s destruction of the Roxbury hatchery? They’re not the usual Vermont raised rainbow. I’ll try to find out and let you know in the next newsletter.