Category Archives: News

News and events around the Lake Champlain Valley of northern New York and Vermont and southern Quebec

Record Fish Highlight Vermont’s 2014 Master Angler Program Results

Vermont’s 2014 Master Angler Program Results

The 2014 edition of the  Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Master Angler program report is highlighted by two new state record fish – both caught in Lake Champlain.

“2014 was a great year for Vermont fishing all around, and the new record fish are a symbol of that, Not only did we continue to see trophy fish entries for many of the well-known species like bass, perch, pike and trout, but we also saw an upswing in the number of entries of more non-traditional fish species like bowfin, carp, and longnose gar. This is yet another indicator of the quality and diversity of Vermont’s fishing opportunities, as well as the enthusiasm of anglers to take on new fishing adventures throughout the state.” ~ Shawn Good, Vermont Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist 

The two new state records include entries for both the common carp and white perch species.

Darren Ouellette caught the new Vermont record carp while bowfishing on Lake Champlain in Shoreham. The fish weighed in at 44 lbs., 6.8 ounces and measured 41.25 inches in length.

 

Vermont record carp

Darren Ouellette of Shoreham with the new Vermont state record common carp that he harvested while bowfishing on Lake Champlain in 2014. The fish weighed 44 lbs. 6.8 ounces, measured 41.25 inches in length and was entered into Vermont’s popular Master Angler program.

 

The new state record white perch weighed 2 lbs. 9.3 ounces and was 16.6 inches long. It was caught by Anthony Austin while ice fishing on Lake Champlain in St. Albans.

“Along with the new record fish, the Master Angler program had several other highlights from 2014 including 790 trophy fish entries from 164 adult anglers and 63 youth anglers,. In total, 12 youth participants and 23 adult participants achieved Master Angler status by entering trophy fish for at least five different species, and we had a 61-percent release rate which means over half of the trophy fish submitted were released to be caught another day.” ~ Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Vermont Master Angler Program

2014 marked the fifth year for the program and saw trophy fish entries from 79 different waterways around the state, and entries from 31 of the 33 species eligible for entry in the program.

While Vermont anglers made up 94% of the participants, the program also saw participants from a other states including New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Arizona.

 

master angler

2014 Master Angler Pin
Lapel pin awarded to Vermont’s Master Anglers, who caught exceptionally large fish of at least five different species in 2014

“Fishing on its own is a great family adventure, but combining the Master Angler program with that experience is an extra bonus. There isn’t a fishing trip that I take with my son or daughter that doesn’t involve a conversation about the potential to catch a Master Angler fish. It provides additional motivation to get out there and I can’t think of a better way to spend time with my kids.”

“The master angler program adds value to fish species that might otherwise be overlooked. While there are similarities in techniques for various species, they usually exist in very different types of water and that makes accomplishing Master Angler status more difficult than some might assume. You find yourself exploring more, and as a result, learning more about fish and their habitat.”  ~ Jeremy Baker, 2014 Master Angler award recipient

Vermont’s Master Angler program was developed to recognize the achievement of anglers who catch trophy-sized fish in Vermont waters and celebrate the growth and survival of these exceptional fish.

The program also encourages anglers to improve their knowledge of fish habitat and behavior, and to develop the necessary skills to target and catch a wide variety of fish species.

To view the full 2014 Vermont Master Angler program report, browse past fish entries or enter a trophy fish, visit http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/MasterAngler.cfm.

To learn more about purchasing a Vermont fishing license, visit http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/buylicense.cfm.

Other Lake Champlain Fishing Articles:

Winooski Fish Lift Open

The fish lift at the Winooski One hydroelectric facility on the Winooski River is now operating for the spring season, providing expanded fishing opportunities for anglers.

Winooski Fish Lift Open

 

Springtime operation of the fish lift on the Winooski River, which begins in March and extends through mid-May, is a collaborative initiative focusing on moving steelhead rainbow trout above the Winooski One Dam and into the next section of the river.

“Lifted steelhead are released into the 1.3 mile section of river above the Winooski Dam and below the next dam, also known as Gorge 18… The Winooski River provides key habitat for a number of Lake Champlain fish species at various times during the year and we do our best to protect fish at sensitive times while also providing quality angling opportunities where we can. It’s definitely a balancing act, but one that is important to the lake, its fisheries and to anglers.” ~ Nick Staats, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In an effort to protect spawning walleye and endangered lake sturgeon, fishing is not allowed between March 16 and May 31 on the section of the Winooski River below the Winooski Dam downstream to the first railroad bridge.

Winooski Fish Lift Open

The Winooski One Hydroelectric dam would have blocked spawning fish. A fish elevator was installed beside the Winooski Falls dam to help Winooski River fish get upstream to spawn. This elevator allows the fish to be transported beyond the two dams in existence further up the river. The fish are lured into a narrow compartment at the base of the dam; the water rushing through this compartment looks like a stream. The fish travelling upstream to spawn swim into this compartment and are unable to find a way out. The fish are raised by the elevator to the upper level of the Winooski River where they can spawn.

 

Winooski Fish Lift = Fishing Opportunites

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Burlington Electric Department and Green Mountain Power, operate the fish lift to assist steelhead with their natural spring migration and also to increase angling opportunities on the stretch of river above the Winooski Dam that is open to fishing.

“Lifting steelhead above the Winooski Dam gives anglers the opportunity to fish for them in a section of the river that is legally open to angling. That being said, this is on a catch-and-release basis using artificial lures or flies only, until April 11 when Vermont’s traditional trout season opens up. After that, anglers are allowed to fish with natural baits and keep up to six steelhead per day.” ~ Brian Chipman, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

The Winooski River is stocked annually with 20,000, 7 to 8-inch steelhead, in addition to 30,000 yearling salmon.

Additionally, anglers also have the chance to catch any landlocked Atlantic salmon that may still be in the upper sections of the Winooski River as a result of last fall’s spawning run.

  • As a reminder, anglers can visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com/lawsdigest.cfm to access the 2015 Vermont Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws and Guide that includes maps showing lakes and streams as well as fishing access areas and public lands.
  • The guide lists the fish species found in each body of water and includes the state’s fishing regulations. Copies are also available where fishing licenses are sold.

 

 

Lake Champlain Walleye Association honored by Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept.

The Lake Champlain Walleye Association, based in Swanton, is one of four Vermont sporting groups recognized by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department for significant volunteer efforts in aiding the department with its fish culture program.
Vermont Record Walleye

Richard Levesque, LCWA Member
with Vermont State Record Walleye

Louis Porter, commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, applauded the four organizations for their commitment to Vermont’s sporting traditions and natural environment. Other partnering organizations include the Hale Mountain Fish & Game Club in Shaftsbury, the Orleans Rod & Gun Club in Orleans, and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation Group based in East Charleston.

“We are incredibly appreciative of these partners and their important work, work that truly benefits our fisheries, improves local angling opportunities and supports Vermont’s economy and natural resources in total,” ~ Louis Porter, commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Lake Champlain Walleye Association honored

Working with Vermont Fish & Wildlife, each partnering organization has taken on varying responsibilities and projects – many of which are detailed in the following highlights:

 

  • Hale Mountain Fish & Game Club: Cooperatively operates the Shaftsbury Ponds which raise yearling trout for stocking and for the Children’s Fishing Program – a program which provides other local sporting groups with cultured trout so children, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities have an increased opportunity to catch fish in an environment conducive to angling. A number of club members have volunteered at the ponds, feeding and taking care of these fish year-round.
  • Lake Champlain Walleye Association honored by Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept.Lake Champlain Walleye Association: Cooperatively operates four ponds throughout the Lake Champlain basin which raise fingerling walleye that are released back into the lake in an effort to augment naturally reproducing walleye. Members work tirelessly to raise healthy numbers of walleye fingerlings for Lake Champlain to increase angling opportunities for walleye.
  • Orleans Rod & Gun Club: Cooperatively operates the Essex Steelhead Pond which raises 2-year old steelhead smolts that are stocked as part of the Willoughby River steelhead restoration program. Club members work hard each year to ensure that quality, healthy fish are raised for the Willoughby River steelhead restoration effort.
  • Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation Group: Operates the Morgan Hatchery which raises brook trout fry that are stocked into beaver ponds throughout the Northeast Kingdom. The dedicated work of this group has ensured that this cooperative partnership continues to provide beneficial angling opportunities to the NEK.

 

Lake Champlain Walleye Association honored by Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept.Collectively, these partnerships are part of the Cooperative Nursery Program, which is designed to involve sporting groups in raising and stocking fish into local waterways. The program has provided approximately 192,000 fish for stocking in Vermont – and enhanced the department’s fishing programs, increased fishing opportunities, and helped to manage and restore fisheries.

 

“These groups and their members have generously volunteered countless hours cleaning hatchery ponds, observing and feeding fish, and ultimately raising thousands of healthy fish to be released into Vermont waters. The success of our fish culture program toward managing and restoring fisheries would not be possible without these types of key partnerships and we’d like to both recognize and thank these folks for their contributions.” ~ Adam Miller, fish culture operations manager with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

VT Trout and Bass Catch-and-Release Season Opens April 11th

Vermont’s Spring Trout and Bass Catch-and-Release Seasons Open April 11

Vermont’s Spring Trout and Bass Catch-and-Release Seasons Open April 11

Trout and Bass Catch and Release Season Opens

Vermont’s traditional trout fishing season opens Saturday, April 11 this year, and anglers are looking forward to spring fishing for brook, brown and rainbow trout in the Green Mountain State’s lakes and streams. Vermont is known for excellent fishing opportunities for wild trout, and some of the biggest brown and rainbow trout are caught during early spring in many rivers throughout the state.

 

“Many of the biggest brown and rainbow trout caught in Vermont rivers each year are taken during the spring season. Though the cold, high water early in the season may force anglers to fish slower in order to tempt sluggish fish, as the spring temperatures rise, the action can really pick up.”  ~  Eric Palmer, director of fisheries, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. 

 

Vermont’s catch-and-release bass fishing season in lakes also starts on April 11, and continues through June 12 when the regular bass season starts. Only lures and flies may be used during the catch-and-release season, and bass must be released immediately

Anglers should note that on most Vermont waters, open water fishing is different than ice fishing. Anglers may not fish from the ice or through the ice for trout during the open-water trout season on rivers, streams and lakes with seasonal closures.

Lake Champlain, however, is open to year-round trout fishing and it does not matter whether an angler is ice fishing or fishing open water. Many other lakes and ponds are open to year-round fishing for species such as yellow perch and northern pike. For a list of year-round fishing spots, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Planning a Vermont spring fishing trip is easy. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has a 2015 Vermont Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws and Guide that includes maps showing lakes and streams as well as fishing access areas and public lands.

The guide also lists the fish species found in each body of water and includes the state’s fishing regulations. Copies are available where fishing licenses are sold, or by calling the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department at 802-828-1000. You can also download sections of the publication from www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

The Vermont Outdoor Guides’ Association is also a resource for locating fishing guides and some overnight facilities (www.VOGA.org). Additional help in finding a place to stay overnight can be found at (www.VermontVacation.com).

Buy your license online and be entered to win a fishing kayak.Click here for details

 

Other Lake Champlain Fishing Articles:

LCBP Awards $662,471 to Local Groups and Municipalities

The Lake Champlain Basin Program awards $662,471 in grants to communities and organizations in Vermont and New York for implementing projects to improve the future of the Lake Champlain watershed.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, whose support was essential in securing the funds for the grants, commented, “These grants to scores of communities, watershed groups and other organizations on both sides of the Lake are so important in promoting and protecting our ‘Great Lake.’ Supporting these crucial efforts at the local level is exactly why it’s always among my highest priorities to bring funds to our Lake Champlain work.”

“Local NGOs and municipalities will use these funds to complete projects in every corner of the Lake Champlain watershed,” said Bill Howland, LCBP Director. “Local watershed groups also serve as strong community leaders delivering an appropriate blend of persuasion, education and, now and then, kicking butt at the local level, to prevent phosphorus and other pollutants from entering the watershed, said Howland. “Some partner up with public works crews to identify specific opportunities to prevent erosion from ditches and municipal parking lots. Other watershed groups help landowners to restore eroded streambanks through riparian plantings, reduce contamination at local beaches, and create programs that help students understand watershed problems and implement solutions.”

Denise Smith, Executive Director of the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, said “Thanks to LCBP, we will be able to implement a water conservation project at a key location in St. Albans Town, and we will be able to implement a direct outreach and education program about water quality to small and backyard farmers in our region. The partnership between LCBP and small local watershed groups in the Lake Champlain Basin is critical to the success of the Lake Champlain clean-up efforts and improving water quality in the State of Vermont.”

The LCBP grant searchable database summarizes all of the previous grant awards through the LCBP. Last year, for example, the Town of Moriah, NY used LCBP funds to stabilize an eroding shoreline in the Bulwagga Bay Campground where fine, sandy material would not readily support vegetative growth and was subject to severe erosion. Funds were used to create one of four engineered berms, 75 feet long, that contain soil amendments, trees, shrubs, and grass to stabilize the shoreline. “This area will now create habitat for wildlife, and the shade generated from the trees when they mature will benefit fish and other water organisms,” said Garrett Dague, Essex County Office of Community Resources. “This stabilization project was necessary to maintain a functional campground and public recreational facility, and will ultimately benefit the near-shore aquatic environment.”

With the Lake Champlain watershed containing thousands of miles of streambanks, including more than 680 main-stem miles along the largest rivers alone, a great deal of work still needs to be done. The LCBP encourages projects that promote citizen action to fix local problems such as stormwater runoff, improve recreational access, and proactively work to reduce the spread of aquatic nuisance species.
The total of all requests, some $1,081,635, indicates the very strong interest and need for local projects in the Lake Champlain Basin. The 68 grants to be awarded will support projects in four categories: Pollution Prevention and Habitat, Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention, Education and Outreach, and Organizational Support. The latter category supports local watershed groups for basic operating functions such as developing their websites and increasing their capacity to offer technical support on water quality issues. Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) grants totaling $22,500 were also awarded. The CVNHP grants will support three projects in which youth will assist in developing interpretive, non-motorized water trails.

The grants were supported with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and National Park Service funds. This year, the Lake Champlain Basin Program requested assistance from 26 members of the public, representing a wide diversity of watershed interests, to carefully review and rank the applications before making grant funding recommendations to the LCBP’s Executive Committee. Since 1992, the LCBP has awarded more than $6.5 million to 918 projects in New York and Vermont in the competitive Local Grants programs. Funded projects cover all actions in the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action.

Click Here to View Awarded Grants