The Winooski is one of the larger water sheds in the State of Vermont. At roughly 90 miles long the Winooski offers a nice diversity in both water and fish types. Beginning in the area of Cabot, the Winooski flow Southwest into the Capitol; Montpellier. At this point the river starts to really take shape. The Steven’s Branch, North Branch and Dog River all flow into the Winooski nearly doubling it’s size. From Montpellier downstream to Middlesex the river is fairly slow and silty with few pockets of fish. From the Middlesex Dam, just upstream of the Mad River confluence (#2) downstream to the Route 2 Bridge in Waterbury (#3) provides excellent wade fishing opportunities. In this section of water you will find a combination of pocket water along with deeper runs, riffles and pools. Here there will be a combination of Wild Browns and Rainbows along with quite a few stocked Rainbows. The occasional “trophy” stocked fish may work it’s way upstream into this section of water. Best access of this section is off of Route 2 between Waterbury and Middlesex.
The Route 2 bridge (#3) marks the upper section of the trophy stretch. This 2 mile stretch of water through the town of Waterbury will provide anglers with the best shot at a large fish. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Stocks both 2 year old trophy trout along with some broodstock. These fish typically range from 16″-22″ with fish upwards of 26″ not out of the question. The best access of this section is off of River Road which runs along the south side of the river. The lower boundary of of the trophy stretch is the Winooski Street Bridge (#4) Trophy stocked fish will continue to travel down stream several miles from here so there’s still potential for some nice fish downstream.
Just downstream of the town of Waterbury is the outflow of the Waterbury Reservoir named the Little River (#5) This tailwater provides extremely cold water during the summer and has been identified to cool the Winooski river down as far downstream as the Huntington River confluence (#7) The Little River can be a tricky fishery at times but holds some enormous trout. A few miles below the Little River is the Bolton Dam (#6) From the Bolton Dam downstream you will find a combination of stocked Browns, along with Wild Rainbows and Wild Browns. Occasionally fish spill over from the trophy stretch as well so there may be some larger stocked fish in this section as well. From the Bolton Dam downstream you will find more pools and slower moving water although there are a few sections of excellent pocket water. Upon hitting the confluence of the Huntington (#7) the river slows down tremendously and becomes more conducive to Smallmouth Bass and Fallfish. Also frequently found downstream of the Bolton Dam are stocked and a few Wild Juvenile Landlocked Salmon. River Road continues from the Winooski Street Bridge (#4) downstream along the South Sid of the Winooski until you reach the Janesville Bridge which is 100yards upstream of the Huntington River (#7) The Winooski heads Northwest at this point and enters lake Champlain in the town of Winooski. The famous hole known as the Salmon Hole which is at the base of the first dam on the Winooski can provide some excellent fishing for Landlocked Salmon, Steelhead and Bass at the right time of the year.
Best time of the year:
Mid-Late May through mid to late June can be fantastic as is the Fall from Mid September through mid October. Fishing can be great in the middle of the summer if the water temps remain cool. The Winooski does have a tendency to exceed 70 degrees often during the summer so fish early and bring a thermometer.
A 9ft 4 or 5wt is a great all around rod for the Winooski. The 9ft rod helps better reach some spots as the river can be quite wide in some areas. 9ft 4x and 5x leaders are sufficient for nymphing and dry fly fishing. If fishing streamers use a 7.5ft 2x leader. Make sure to have a good pair of wading boots as the rocks tend to be quite slippery.
Brown and Black Kaufman Stoneflies, Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Prince Nymphs, Bird of Prey, Caddis Pupa. All of these excluding the stoneflies can be fished in sizes from #12-18 depending on water level, time of year and clarity. Typically larger in the spring and smaller in the fall.
Parachute Adams, Light Cahils, Elk Hair Caddis, X Caddis, Sulfurs, Hoppers, Ants, BWOs, White Wulfs, Grey Wulfs, Royal Wulfs
Wooly Buggers,Muddlers, Zonkers, Montana Mouthwash, Sculpin Patterns, Sex Dungeons.