Two fish certified as new Vermont state records

Two fish caught in Lake Champlain tributaries certified as new Vermont state records

 

Chase Stokes of Ferrisburgh holds the new Vermont state record carp he caught while fishing the Otter Creek in April - one of two new Vermont State records

Chase Stokes set a new state record for carp with this catch, weighing 33.25 pounds and measuring 40 inches in length. The carp was one of two new Vermont State records

 

A new state record carp, weighing 33.25 pounds and measuring 40 inches in length, was caught in Otter Creek by Ferrisburgh angler Chase Stokes in April. Stokes, an accomplished Vermont youth angler, caught the carp in the town of Panton. The fish had a total girth of 26.5 inches at its widest point. The former record carp weighed 33 pounds and measured 35 inches.

A second state record for redhorse sucker has also been certified. In May Mike Elwood of Burlington caught a redhorse sucker in the Winooski River that weighed 9.96 pounds, measured 29 inches in length and had a total girth of 18 inches. Elwood caught the redhorse sucker in the town of Colchester. The previous record redhorse sucker weighed 9 pounds and measured 27.5 inches in length.

 

Mike Elwood of Burlington with the new Vermont state record redhorse sucker he caught while fishing the Winooski River in May - one of two new Vermont State records

Mike Elwood of Burlington landed a redhorse sucker in the Winooski River in May which weighed 9.96 pounds, measured 29 inches in length and had a total girth of 18 inches. It was one of two new Vermont State records

Both of the new Vermont state records were made official this week after a thorough review process by fisheries biologists from Vermont Fish & Wildlife. The records are for the traditional method of angling, as opposed to bowfishing which are also recognized for records for both species.

 

“The two fish add to the remarkable list of record fish being caught in Vermont year in and year out,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “15 state records have been set for individual species of fish since 2010, and that list will likely grow as more and more anglers chase many of Vermont’s lesser-known, non-traditional fish species.

“We currently certify records for 41 different species of fish found in Vermont, so the opportunities for anglers to learn about and target trophy-class fish of a range of species are tremendous,” added Good. “Chase and Mike are both accomplished anglers and long-time participants of our Master Angler program, and their catches are certainly indicative of both their talent and passion for fishing.”

 

Good also noted that the frequency of record fish catches in Vermont in recent years provides added incentive for anglers to get out on the water this summer and fall.

 

“There seems to be some extra buzz in the Vermont angling community right now given the quality of fish being caught regularly across so many different species,” said Good. “It’s always exciting to go fishing, and it makes it that much more exhilarating when you know your very next cast could lead to a new state record.”

 

To learn more about Vermont’s record fish program, fishing in Vermont, or to purchase a fishing license, visit vtfishandwildlife.com.

Fort Ste. Anne

Fort Ste. Anne, Isle La Motte, Vermont

In 1665, the French sought to protect their colony in New France (now Canada) along the Saint Lawrence River from attacks by the Iroquois. Their defensive plan was to built a string of five forts stretching along the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain. Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy had the forts built by four companies of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The first three forts were built in 1665, and the other two in 1666. Fort Richelieu, Fort Chambly, Fort Sainte Thérèse and Fort Saint-Jean protected the Richelieu itself.

 

Fort Ste. Anne, the southernmost fort was built on a sandy point on Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain – about six miles from where the Lake empties into the Richelieu River. The fort was dedicated to Saint Anne. Fort Ste. Anne was the most vulnerable to attacks by the Iroquois, because it was the last of five forts stretching along the Richelieu River route going south. It was completed in July 1666 by French troops under the command of Captain Pierre de La Motte, and was quite small; only measuring about 144′ x 96′. It was a double log palisade about 15′ high – with four bastions.

Though occupied for only six years, Fort Ste. Anne was the scene of many important events. Because of numerous deadly Mohawk attacks on French settlements to the north, the decision was made to take the offensive and attack the Iroquois villages, far south on the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. The sandy point (and the area across the lake at the mouth of the Chazy River) became the staging grounds for several major attacks on Iroquois villages. French attacks on British settlements and Iroquois villages would continue from Fort St. Frédéric (Crown Point) and Carillon (Ticonderoga) long after Fort Ste. Anne was abandoned.

Fort Ste. Anne was undoubtedly a desolate  and fearsome place to be stationed. Deep in an impenetrable wilderness, accessible only by water, subject to fierce winds and deep snows, the few hardy souls who resided here suffered terribly from both the elements and disease. Scurvy was rampant. Isolation and loneliness took a terrible toll.

All traces of the wooden fort were gone by the mid-1800-s, but you can still determine where the fort stood. The sandy point where the structure was located now is now the site of the ‘Way of Calvary’ at Saint Anne’s Shrine; a tree-shaded place where Catholics can visit the Stations of the Cross.

 

 

 

That sandy point of Isle La Motte has been significant in the  history of the lake.

  • Before the first French missionaries visited the region the point was a gathering place for Native Americans.
  • Samuel de Champlain stopped here when he first visited the lake in 1604.
  • Father (now Saint) Isaac Jogues most likely stopped off at the point during his numerous and ill-fated journeys up and down the lakes.
  • French troops and their allies staged here for attacks against the Iroquois and British.

 

In a 1937 travel guide to Vermont the description of the site of Fort Ste. Anne in Isle la Motte offers an interesting, but romanticized, description of a lovely, sacred, and historic location.

“Here in the calm of shaded lakeside beauty, French soldiers under Capt. de La Motte built a fort in 1666 for protection against the Mohawks, and here in the essence of Champlain island loveliness was the scene of Vermont’s first, though impermanent, white settlement. The beauty of Ste. Anne is deepened by history— the pictures brought to mind of swashbuckling French gallants casting off uniform-coats to swing axes and ply spades; the solemn-faced Jesuits in their dark garb; and a garrison of 300 men celebrating mass on this wilderness isle in the chapel of Fort Ste. Anne, the first mass to be held in the State.”

 

Saint Anne’s Shrine

In the late 1800’s, Bishop Louis de Goesbriand, of the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont acquired the property where the fort was located. A shrine, dedicated to Saint Anne de Beaupre, as was the French fort, was opened by the Bishop on July 26, 1893. In 1904, the Shrine was entrusted to the care of the Edmundite Fathers, founders of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Fort Ste Anne site , Isle La Motte, Vermont

Samuel de Champlain statue

 

Over the years the Shrine has grown in both size and popularity. In addition to a large, open-air chapel, there are now several other buildings on site, including one that houses a small museum with a number of artifacts excavated from the site of the French fortress. In addition to the Chapel and the  ‘Way of Calvary’ a 15′ gilded statue of the Virgin Mary serves the devotional needs of visitors. This impressive statue used to adorn the bell tower of Burlington’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Cathedral was destroyed by fire in March, 1972. The Diocese of Burlington donated the statue in 1991 to the Shrine.3

 

In 1968, the State of Vermont donated a statue of the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain. This impressive monument was sculpted by F.L. Weber in Montreal during Expo ’67.

New Lake Champlain Blueway Trail Guide Available Online

New Lake Champlain Blueway Trail Guide Available

New Lake Champlain Blueway Trail Guide Available Online

 

A recreational water path extending the length of Lake Champlain’s New York shoreline from Whitehall to Rouses Point, the Lake Champlain Blueway Trail is a guide for paddlers featuring more than 90 points of interests including: parks, wildlife viewing spots, geological curiosities, historic sites, museums, and campgrounds.

Explore the Lake Champlain Adirondack Coast through the Lake Champlain Blueway Trail. This online travel guide provides historical information, recreational opportunities, paddling tips, boat launches, docking locations, and marinas.

Intended primarily for use by paddlers, it can also be used by those in larger boats and those who travel frozen Lake Champlain in the winter. The Blueway Trail is organized into 16 segments, each intended as a separate day trip.

The entire Blueway Trail Guide can be found online at Blueway Trail Guide. Each of the sections is explored briefly below. You may also access each of the sections individually by clicking the name of that section below.

Rouses Point to the Great Chazy River:

Lake Champlain History - Fort Montgomery (Fort Blunder)

Fort Montgomery (Fort Blunder)

 

Before you begin, north of the Village of Rouses Point is Fort Montgomery, nicknamed Fort Blunder.

Start in the Village of Rouses Point and continue down and around the historic Point au Fer. From here, paddlers have an uninterrupted view down the lake following the marshy shore. At Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area, you can observe the abundant wildlife up to the mouth of the Great Chazy River.

Great Chazy River to Point au Roche:

Snow geese at Montys Bay Wildlife Management Area

Snow geese at Montys Bay WMA

Along this shallow and marshy shoreline, paddlers will pass historic Chazy Landing and have access to Montys Bay Wildlife Management Area for wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing.

Point au Roche to Cumberland Head:

Point Au Roche Lighthouse

Point Au Roche Lighthouse

Paddlers can enjoy the view of the Point Au Roche Lighthouse, a series of beautiful bays, and have access to Point Au Roche State Park with its sandy beach, swimming area, and network of trails.

 

Port Kent to Cumberland Bay:

This Lake Champlain Blueway Trail route begins in Port Kent and continues through two different wildlife management areas, Wickham Marsh WMA and Ausable Marsh WMA, both of which offer excellent wetland wildlife viewing opportunities. This segment is “hallowed waters,” the site of several naval battles that were fought to control Lake Champlain over 200 years ago. The route ends at the Plattsburgh City Beach, which is adjacent to Cumberland Bay State Park. Recommended to paddle from south to north.

 

Valcour and Crab Islands:

The Valcour and Crab islands trail guides you around one of Lake Champlain’s largest and most historic islands and its smaller neighbor. Explore the many bays and points along the islands. You can also learn about the best places to explore the islands on foot at this PassagePort. Valcour has a number of primitive campsites.

 

Port Kent to Willsboro:

Schuyler Island - Lake Champlain Islands

Schuyler Island pebble beach

Begin this paddle in the hamlet of Port Kent, explore Schuyler Island, and continues south to the historic hamlet of Port Douglas, where you will find a sandy beach and swimming area before continuing on to Willsboro Bay.

Willsboro Bay to the Four Brothers Islands:

Four Brothers Islands on Lake Champlain with Vermont in background.

This segment of the Lake Champlain Blueway Trail begins in the picturesque Willsboro Bay and takes paddlers around Willsboro Point, out to the Four Brothers Islands with unparalleled bird watching opportunities, ending near the mouth of the beautiful Boquet River.

Boquet River:

A paddle up this river is a trip through history, ending at the hamlet of Willsboro, where shopping, dining, and other recreational opportunities are plentiful.

 

Westport (Split Rock) to Essex:

Split Rock

Explore the section of the lake known as “The Narrows,” named for the obvious reason that this is the narrowest part of the lake, rich in history and natural beauty. Paddlers can pick through the many harbors and points along this shoreline, including the unique “Palisades of Lake Champlain,” a geological masterpiece of sheer cliffs ornamented with waterfalls and wildlife.

This segment ends in the hamlet of Essex, with shopping, dining, and parks to enjoy. It is recommended that this segment be completed south to north.

Port Henry to Westport:

Cole Island

Cole Island

This route begins in the Village of Port Henry and passes a number of iron-history sites along the shoreline, including a once-industrious brook and Cole Island believed to be where Father Isaac Jogues, a famous Jesuit missionary was tortured while held captive by the Mohawks.

The route ends in the town of Westport, where paddlers have access to shopping, dining, parks, and a beach and swimming area. It is recommended that this segment be completed south to north.

Crown Point and Port Henry:

Five Museum Tour

Crown Point Barracks

Paddlers can put in at Crown Point State Historic Site, the location of two separate forts under different sovereigns. Nearby are campgrounds, a historic lighthouse and pier, boat launch, and museum.  The route continues along Bulwagga Bay, and then onward to the village of Port Henry with shopping and dining, parks, beaches, campgrounds, and a museum that showcases the town’s mining and iron ore heritage.

Crown Point to Monitor Bay:

This short segment consists of marshes, resulting in a vibrant and diverse habitat of plants and animals. Paddlers can explore Putts Creek Wildlife Management Area before reaching the Town of Crown Point’s Monitor Bay Park and Marina. It is a short walk from here to a bank, stores, and restaurants.

 

Monitor Bay to Ticonderoga:

Explore a narrow and marshy shoreline of the lake that is almost river-like. Wildlife is abundant here, especially birds and waterfowl.

 

Ticonderoga and La Chute River:

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga

Paddlers get a terrific view of Fort Ticonderoga and its impressive grounds on this segment. The strategic importance of this fort was its location at the mouth of La Chute River, which is the waterway that connects Lake Champlain to Lake George. From Fort Ticonderoga, it is smooth water to downtown Ticonderoga.

Ticonderoga to Chubbs Dock:

Paddlers will start near Fort Ticonderoga, passing through the narrowest point in the lake. The southern part of Lake Champlain has been referred to as the “drowned lands” because it is surround by wetlands, rich with wildlife.

 

Whitehall to South Bay (Chubbs Dock):

South Bay

Lake Champlain’s South Bay

This segment begins in historic Whitehall, the birthplace of the American Navy, and brings paddlers through the waters that became a murky grave for a number of Revolutionary War ships.

The trail also explores South Bay, which offers paddlers ample wildlife viewing opportunities. It is recommended that this segment be completed south to north.

Expanding on one of these day trips, Lakes to Locks has also produced a detailed audio and web tour of Valcour and Crab Islands, which includes paddling information as well as in-depth history and a guided walking tour of Valcour.

The Valcour and Crab Island PassagePort is a mobile-enhanced tour that draws from the expertise of historians, experienced paddlers, and others.

Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming

Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming

 

Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for SwimmingVermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department reminds the public not to swim at fishing access areas due to safety concerns. The primary use for the fishing access areas is to launch and retrieve motorboats.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department maintains over 180 developed fishing access areas on lakes and rivers throughout the state. These areas have permitted uses determined by law, and swimming is not one of them.

Fish & Wildlife regulations prohibit certain uses of fishing access areas including, but not limited to — swimming, littering, camping, picnicking, making a fire, parking of vehicles not related to priority uses, and commercial activity.

The access areas were purchased and are maintained with funds from the sale of fishing licenses and motorboat registrations, as well as a federal excise tax on fishing equipment, fishing tackle, and gasoline for motorboats. These funding sources explicitly prohibit activities that are in conflict with fishing and boating.

“It’s great that people want to get out in the water, but a boat ramp is not the right place to go swimming,” said Mike Wichrowski who oversees the Fishing Access Area Program. “There’s a reason motorboats aren’t allowed in swimming areas, and swimming isn’t allowed at fishing access areas — it’s simply not safe.”

In recent weeks Vermont game wardens have responded to several incidents involving people swimming at fishing access areas. In some cases people, including children, were swimming right at the boat ramps while boats were being launched, risking injury or preventing the launching of boats.Fish and wildlife access sign Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming

“We understand that people want to go swimming, especially during hot weather, but we are urging folks to swim at locally approved swimming areas,” said Colonel Jason Batchelder. “Finding a safe swimming area is easy in most communities. Just ask at a general store or other place where people gather.”

The fine for swimming at an access area is $162.