Fly Fishing around Waitsfield, VT

philly

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My sister just brought a home in Waitsfield, VT. They had a home outside of Andover, VT and I've been fly fishing that area for around 25 years. Now in my old age I'm going to have to learn a new area. I know they're not far from the Mad River. I don't limit my fly fishing to just trout, so I'm also looking for information on warm water fishing, lakes and ponds, other rivers. My nice and her husband will living in the house till they're own house gets built, both like to fly fish, so I'm working on a couple of fly boxes for them. Any suggestions on flies I should tie drys and nymphs would be appreciated.
 

moucheur2003

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My parents used to have a ski house right on the Mad River in Waitsfield, and my wife is from Shelburne, so I have fished that area a lot. Hm, so, without burning any secret spots, here goes:

The Mad gets stocked and has good spots, but I haven't fished it since Hurricane Irene changed everything a few years ago, so the best lies have probably shifted since I knew some of them. It also has some nice blue line tribs where you can always pick up a few wild brookies even in the heat of July and August -- but that's all I'm going to say about that! If you go north to Moretown and east up over back roads to Northfield Falls, the Dog River up and down Route 12 has been managed for wild trout for many years, and harbors energetic rainbows and some big, wily browns as well as native brookies. Or you could go west up over Route 17 to the Huntington River, but it gets pounded harder than the Mad or the Dog because it's closer to Burlington. There are a lot of good spots along the Winooski including the confluences of the Mad, Little, and Dog Rivers, as well as the stretch under the Winooski Street Bridge in Waterbury. If those spots are busy (as they often are, especially on weekends) you can drive along the south bank of the Winooski anywhere from Montpelier down to Richmond and find secluded pullouts. Or if the rivers are getting warm and you're up to a challenge, strap a float tube on your back and hike up the steep trail at Smuggler's Notch to Sterling Pond, and cast #16 peacock caddis to eager stillwater brookies. If you're looking for warmwater fishing, the Waterbury Reservoir is a popular spot for smallmouth bass and yellow perch. The Fly Rod Shop in Stowe is the long-established shop in the region and the birthplace of (the late lamented) Diamondback Rods. Its current owner, Bob Shannon, is becoming something of a personality on the winter fly fishing show circuit, and he keeps three or four guides busy. I've found they are pretty generous with advice if you walk in on a slow day. There is also a new fly shop called "The Silver Trout" that is just getting started right in Waitsfield where I imagine you will soon be able to get the most detailed, or at least recent, local advice.

I still get up there reasonably often, so come fishing season, message me and we can try to meet up for a day on the water. I'm always looking for fishing buddies.
 
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gpwhitejr

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Welcome to Vermont! You shouldn't have any trouble finding great fishing spots, from tiny streams to the Inland Sea (Lake Champlain), from tiny brookies (our state fish) to huge pike. Get a copy of the fishing regulations (free in convenience stores and the like, or online); it has lists of rivers and lakes and what is in them:

Vermont Fishing Season & Regulations – 2019 | eRegulations

Check out this map too:

Vermont Trout Map - Rivers and Streams | Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

You can also check the stocking schedule:

https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/FishStockingSchedule.aspx

As mentioned above, Waterbury Reservoir is a good bass lake (I take my kayak there, but I have caught bass from shore just standing near the dam) and Waterbury is a great little town with some really good restaurants (and of course home of The Alchemist, maker of Heady Topper, the world's best beer). And Sterling Pond is a beautiful little mountain lake, a moderate hike up. The big name rivers (Battenkill, Winooski, Otter Creek, Lamoille, Missisquoi, etc.) of course have great fishing, but I fish in little streams near my house that most people probably have never heard of but that have good fishing nonetheless. There are lots of those.
 

gpwhitejr

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By the way, if you check Amazon you can find lots of books about fly fishing in Vermont. Maybe useful for folks who are new to the area.
 

Rip Tide

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My son and I were fishing up that way this past October.
First time since Hurricane Irene and the repeal of the felt sole ban (thank you VT)
Irene really ripped the rivers up and places that I used to know well were completely unrecognizable to me now.
There's plenty of good small streams right within a short drive of your area. East, west and south (without naming names)
All on that trout map that gpwhitejr linked to.

My son fishing the White

 

moucheur2003

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Irene really ripped the rivers up and places that I used to know well were completely unrecognizable to me now.
Yes. If you install Google Earth and look at time lapse aerial photos, you can see how much some of the river bends and pools were altered. I heard that an old Ford Model T emerged from the river bank in Waitsfield that hadn't been seen since it was washed away in the flood of 1927.
 

moucheur2003

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My sister just brought a home in Waitsfield, VT. They had a home outside of Andover, VT and I've been fly fishing that area for around 25 years.
If you're a regular denizen of southern VT you may have already heard this, but the state just announced that they are planning to close the state hatchery in Salisbury which supplies the broodstock for most of the stocked trout throughout the state. Local TU chapters and other conservation groups are trying to lobby against it. Although most of the TU members are catch-and-release advocates, they figure that eliminating the put-and-take fishery will put too much pressure on the remaining wild trout habitat and degrade all trout fishing throughout the state.

Jensen Afield: Hatchery closing would have broad implications | Weekend Magazine | timesargus.com
 

philly

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Thanks for the info everyone. I fished the Dog River a couple of times with a friend who taught at Norwich University. Irene pretty much tore up the rivers in central Vermont. I went up the spring following Irene. I normally fish the Black, Outacheeque, plus the lakes and ponds in the area and try to make a trip over to the White River. A lot of the spots I fished were gone. The stretch of the Black river from just above Plymouth Union down to Amherst lake along RT 100 used to be a decent brook trout stream haven't seen a brook trout in years just some stocked rainbows. What I like to do is take out my Vermont Gazetteer check out an area and drive the dirt roads which have brooks crossing over or alongside.
Moucheur2003, don't see myself getting up there until after Memorial Day. I'll make myself a note and drop you a message before I head up.
 

Vtbrowns57

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Hi moucher2003,

That's some pretty sobering stuff right there. I wonder sometimes what it would take for the state to make a major water sytem like the Winooski or Lamoille completely catch and release. I don't know much about trout population dynamics and ecosystem requirements but I think it could potentially transform the VT trout economy, although it would prob take 15-25 years to really see the fruits of that commitment...?

Respectfully,
Vtbrowns57
 

moucheur2003

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Hi moucher2003,

That's some pretty sobering stuff right there. I wonder sometimes what it would take for the state to make a major water sytem like the Winooski or Lamoille completely catch and release. I don't know much about trout population dynamics and ecosystem requirements but I think it could potentially transform the VT trout economy, although it would prob take 15-25 years to really see the fruits of that commitment...?

Respectfully,
Vtbrowns57
Conservation-sensitive anglers are still pretty heavily outnumbered by food-for-the-table anglers in Vermont, I believe. It would probably take devoting much more effort to law enforcement, paid for by higher license fees and stiffer fines for poaching -- none of which would probably win much popular support.
 
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