Vermont’s State Fish
by: Bob Shannon
As we move into the month of June in the fly fishing world, many Vermont anglers are drawn to the pursuit of Vermont’s State Fish, the Vermont Native Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis). Vermont’ s Fish and Wildlife Department has conducted numerous angling surveys over the years and Vermont’s brook trout still remains the most desirably sought after fish species Vermont’s waters have to offer. The last Fish and Wildlife survey indicates that nearly 80% of Vermont sportsmen still prefer fishing for brook trout in Vermont waters. Vermont has over two thousand miles of brook trout water dissecting the states spine of the green mountains. For most anglers that would be ten lifetimes of opportunities.
During my pursuit of trophy fish over the past two and a half decades of guiding, I have fished from as far north as Alberta and Labrador, Canada, to as far south as the Southern Caribbean Islands. Despite having fished and guided in hundreds of beautiful locations, I still find myself drawn to Vermont’s upland mountain streams in pursuit of a trophy that will fit in the palm of your hand. A walk up the mountain beneath the canopy of trees (which shade those fishing holes beautifully) and having the lime-green moss covered rocks cushioning my walk along the way is sure to set the stage for a an enjoyable fishing adventure.
Sure, I have lots of fish photos that any angler would cherish, but I still am astonished by the beauty of a wild Native Vermont Brook Trout. There is nothing like the rush of having that brookie burst out at my dry fly from a gin-clear, bathtub sized pool in a Vermont Mountain Stream. I am in awe that I can actually find fish living in such beautiful places. When fishing for mountain bro the job. My personal favorite is a 1968 Winston Fiberglass 7’ 6 4wt manufactured by the R.L Winston Company in San Francisco, California. Even a 6in brook trout will pucker over this fiberglass wand.e Vermont Brook Trout. There is nothing like the rush of having that brookie burst out at my dry fly
If you are looking to start a new passion of pursuing Upland trout streams, Vermont’s Gazetteer can be a great start to locate a new honey hole. If you are trying to locate Brook trout Streams you can start in Vermont’s southern most counties of Bennington or Windham and fish your way to Vermont’s northern counties of Franklin and Orleans, and Essex counties and everything in between. Any streams with headwaters that begin at an elevation of 2000 feet or higher are ideal starting points and stay frigid throughout the entire summer. It’s rare to venture into the high mountain elevation streams and find water temperatures over 60 degrees, even during the dog days of summer. These are ideal conditions for native brook trout.
When I am fishing a Vermont upland brook trout stream my preference is to fish up stream to allow my fly to be the first thing fish see. As the fly drifts towards you, strikes can occur right at your feet, so keeping a tight line throughout your drift will allow you a higher strike-to-land ratio. Try to work short one to four foot drifts to minimize snags. Seasoned anglers know not to just fish obvious pools of significant size that will hold obvious fish, but obviously these spots are fished by most fishermen. Try to cover any piece of water that looks even a little bit fishy because highly productive streams will hold fish in the most unlikely places.
As I plan for my summer trophy fish angling adventures, you can rest assured that during the next three to four months I’ll be fishing Vermont’s upland streams in pursuit of those 6 -12inch brook trout. I’ll be starting at the streams I have not yet fished and can’t wait to see what surprises lay around those river’s next bends.