Hi Folks, Opening Day is upon us for the 2024 trout season! Opening day does not have the same appeal as it once did. In Vermont, we now allow year round angling in many trout rivers. It is catch and release during this period.Still I think it diminishes the excitement of opening day.
It was a weird winter. Not terribly cold and the snowfall was okay. We received a high percentage of our snow in March. The snow is all gone in the valleys and there is still a bit of snowpack in the higher elevations. Many lakes and ponds are already ice free or darn close to breaking up.
The Lamoille tributary I visited yesterday was high and a bit off colored. Mostly run off with a combination of spring rain. The water temperature was 35 degrees. Pretty cold for trout fishing with a fly. Safety is a concern this time of year with the water levels up considerably and the water temperatures are bone chilling cold. The best bets for river fishing are small Brook trout streams and tributary rivers of lakes. Lake run rainbows and landlocked salmon offer nice opportunities for anglers this time of the year.
Presentations for lake run fish should be fished deep and slow. Weighted egg patterns and a variety of streamer patterns are a nice approach. For landlocked salmon, I like smelt patterns like a #6-#8 Magog Smelt, #6-#8 Black Ghost, #6-#8 Grey Ghost, #4-#6 Black tungsten bead white wooly bugger, and a #4-#6 bead headed Zonker. For rainbows that are migrating upstream, orange and yellow egg patterns like glo bugs and scrambled eggs draw positive responses. A #4-#8 Spring Wiggler is a great imitation of the Brown Stone fly that will begin to hatch soon. Wiggler work well in clear water conditions. Early spring trout fishing with the fly can be challenging. Still the opportunity exists to catch a really nice fish.

Lake fishing for Northern pike has always been one of my favorite spring angling activities. Large fish move into shallow water to spawn. Pike are probably spawning as I write this report. Focusing on shallow dark bays that abut deep water are good places to locate these top line predators. A stealth approach is required as large female northern pike can be finicky and spooky in skinny water.
I like a wide variety of fly patterns for pike. 1/0-#4 Clouser Minnows, Lefty’s deceivers, Half and Half’s, and a mess of flies I tie with ELP fibers. Colors that are productive are black/white, olive/yellow, orange/yellow, chartreuse/white, and lots of flash incorporated into each pattern.
The time of day can make a difference. I think fishing for lake run fish is best early morning or late day. Low light is important for lake run fish to want to move/ migrate from holding areas. While lake fishing for bass and pike this time of year is a midday event. The water needs to warm which in turn cranks up then pikes metabolism.
I am excited for the upcoming season. My calendar is starting to fill and I have lots of fun fishing adventures planned. April can require patience. The best fishing Vermont has to offer is yet to come. Remember to clean your gear and keep the non-native species at home. Have Fun, Willy