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Although trout fishing for some right now is just a figment of their imagination the season is getting closer everyday. Spring is really in the air and it got us thinking about early season fishing in VT. 

Even though trout season doesn’t open until the 2nd Saturday in April there are opportunities to catch fish prior to that on some of Vt’s year round open water. Fish don’t come easy in March in VT but if you play your cards right and the stars line up just right you’ll be able to put a fish or two in the net. 

First off is where to fish. You’ve got two types of water/fish to be targeting. One being lake run fish. The rivers that are open year round to fishing that are going to see lake run fish are all tributaries of lake Champlain. Be sure to double check before you fish as a few of the bigger Champlain Tribs do close in mid March and won’t open until the 1st of June. Secondly, you’ve got the opportunity to target resident trout that have spent the entire winter in the rivers. Fishing in both of these situations is going to be fairly similar. Target the deeper, slower water and be sure your flies are down towards the bottom. You don’t necessarily want to be dragging on the bottom as you’ll just end up potentially fowl hooking fish or burning through a bunch of flies. If using an indicator, once you find bottom lower the indicator just enough so you tick bottom every once in a while. When streamer fishing, use a heavier fly, a sinking line and fish the flies slowwwww. Even dead drifting streamers can be effective, if you’re going to move them as they drift sometimes just lifting your rod slightly as you’re following your fly line down stream just to give the fly a little bit of movement can be effective.

As far as fly patterns go, don’t over think it. The most crucial aspect of early season fishing in our opinion is getting your flies to the fish. When it comes to fishing for the lake run fish (steelhead) a few of our favorite patterns include: Black Kaufman Stoneflies, Pink San Juan Worms, Red Copper johns, Hare’s Ears and Egg Patterns. For resident trout all of the patterns mentioned above as well as: Pheasant Tails, Smaller Attractor Nymphs, Caddis Pupa, Latex Grubs, and Bigger Girdle Bugs. When it comes to streamers bigger buggers, sculpin, zonkers and other similar patterns in white and olive seem to work well. Generally we’ll be using 3x and 4x when nymphing and 15lb Maxima when streamer fishing. 

Looks like we might even get out on the rivers next week! We should see a good push of water this weekend with the warm up. Hopefully that push of water will clear a bunch of the ice out of some of the rivers around and we’ll actually be able to get to the water!! Good luck if anyone gets out over the next couple of weeks! If we do get out we’ll be sure to let everyone know how we do. Be sure to swing by the shop the next time you’re near Stowe! We’ve got a ton of new packs from Umpqua and Simms along with waders from Simms a ton of new files more tying materials and a lot more stuff to come!!

For a full list of the rivers that are open to fishing year round in VT check out Year Round Fishing Opportunities


The Fly Rod Shop is Northern Vermont’s finest fly fishing guide service and fly fishing gear retailer. Visit our shop on Route 100 in Stowe, VT or shop our online store to find gear from Simms Fishing Products, Redington, Loon Products, Montana Fly Company, Buff, Lamson Waterworks, Sage, Rio, Scientific Angler and more!