Category Archives: News

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

New Year-Round Open Water Fishing Opportunities for Vermont Anglers

Are you a die-hard angler? New regulations have opened up new year-round open water fishing opportunities in the state of Vermont. Beginning in 2014, revised Vermont regulations allow catch-and release trout fishing with artificial flies or lures outside of the normal trout season. The eleven sections of waterways covered provide over seventy additional miles of river to year-round trout fishing.

New Year-Round Open Water Fishing Opportunities for Vermont Anglers

Year-Round Open Water Fishing

“The regulations were intended to provide expanded fishing opportunities for trout while limiting the potential impact to populations. The changes will give interested anglers the opportunity to take advantage of any mild days in late fall and early spring.” ~ Rich Kirn, Vermont Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist.

Additionally, the state’s bass catch-and-release open water angling opportunities (not ice fishing) – also with artificial flies and lures only – have been expanded to include all lakes, ponds and reservoirs not listed as ‘seasonally closed waters.’ A complete list of ‘seasonally closed waters’ is available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website, www.vtfishandwildlife.com. Under the “Fishing” tab, click on “Law Digest and Guide” for more information.

“From the feedback I’ve gotten, many local anglers – primarily the hardcore, avid type – are really excited about the increased options in terms of fishable waters. Additionally, we’ve seen a rise in the non-resident interest in these opportunities and that should certainly provide a boost in visits from those outside of Vermont.” ~ Bob Shannon, owner of The Fly Rod Shop and Fly Fish Vermont Guide Service in Stowe, Vermont

The following rules are are in effect on these new catch-and-release waters:

  • Only artificial flies or lures may be used, except during the open season for trout (2nd Sat. in April – Oct. 31).
  • Catch and release only (trout must be immediately released where caught), except during the open season for trout.
  • During open season for trout, follow normal size restrictions, daily limits and possession limits.

Year-Round Open Water Fishing Opportunities for Vermont Anglers

The following sections of streams listed below are classified as open to year-round trout fishing :
  • Black River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the Howard Hill Road Bridge in Cavendish.
  • Deerfield River: From the Woods Road (Medburyville) bridge in Wilmington upstream approximately 2 miles to the VT Route 9W bridge in Searsburg.
  • East Creek (Rutland City): From the confluence with Otter Creek upstream (approximately 2.7 miles) to the top of the Patch Dam in Rutland City.
  • Hoosic River: From the Vermont/New York border upstream to the Vermont/ Massachusetts border.
  • Lamoille River: From the Lake Champlain boundary (top of Peterson Dam in Milton) upstream to the top of the Cady’s Falls Dam in Morristown.
  • Lewis Creek: From the Lake Champlain boundary upstream to the State Prison Hollow Road (TH#3) bridge in Starksboro.
  • Missisquoi River: From the top of the Swanton Dam in Swanton to the top of the Enosburg Falls Dam in Enosburg Falls.
  • Moose River: From the confluence with Passumpsic River upstream to the downstream edge of the Concord Avenue bridge in St. Johnsbury.
  • Ompompanoosuc River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the Union Village Dam in Thetford.
  • Otter Creek: From the Lake Champlain boundary upstream to the Danby-Mt. Tabor Forest Road bridge (Forest Road #10) in Mt. Tabor..
  • Passumpsic River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the top of Arnolds Falls Dam in St. Johnsbury.
  • Waits River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the top of the Central Vermont Power Dam in Bradford.
  • Walloomsac River: From the Vermont/New York border in Bennington upstream to the top of the former Vermont Tissue Plant Dam (downstream of Murphy Road) in Bennington.
  • West River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the Townshend Dam in Townshend.
  • White River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the bridge on Route 107 in Bethel.
  • Williams River: From the Connecticut River boundary upstream to the top of the dam at Brockway Mills Falls in Rockingham.
  • Winooski River: From the Lake Champlain boundary upstream to the VT Route 2/100 in Duxbury and Waterbury.

Additionally a section of the Walloomsac River in Bennington was also designated as a trophy trout stream with the changes and is being stocked with two-year old brown and rainbow trout – both with a daily limit of two per day.

            

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VT Agriculture Secretary Rules on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Issues Decision on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross issued a decision last week that denied a petition from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to impose mandatory best management practices on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin. The decision did, however, direct the Agency’s Agricultural Water Quality Program to accelerate its agricultural water quality compliance and enforcement activities in the Missisquoi Bay Basin.

VT Sec’y of Agriculture Issues Decision on Mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin

A ‘honey wagon’ or liquid manure truck on a dairy farm near Mississquoi Bay

Last May a petition filed by the CLF sought to impose mandatory best management practices (BMPs) for water quality on farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin that are “critical source areas” as modelled by a 2011 Lake Champlain Basin Program study. In July a public hearing on the petition was held in St. Albans, VT – that provided extensive testimony and comment. Secretary Ross considered the study a guidepost for on-going water quality work, but ruled that the data did not provide an adequate regulatory rationale to impose mandatory BMPs in Missisquoi Bay Basin.

Ross concluded that the actions sought by the CLF would not be consistent with the EPA’s continuing process for water quality improvement under the federal Clean Water Act. That process establishes a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Champlain. Additionally, his decision notes that there are insufficient resources available at this time, to help the basin’s farmers to achieve compliance with mandatory BMPs, as required by state law. The full text of the decision can be accessed at: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition

“The written decision speaks for itself. CLF’s initiative and the hearing process, in which stakeholders on all sides engaged in thoughtful and civil discourse, demonstrate why Vermont is a special place where we work together to address mutual concerns. CLF has pledged, on the record, to assist stakeholders in seeking additional resources devoted to agricultural water quality improvement.” ~ Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross

Additional information, including the original hearing notice and audio files from the hearing, can be found at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/clf_petition

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John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements

John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements

When the area reopens, it will feature an expanded two-lane concrete boat ramp and a 70-foot dock. A redesigned parking lot will better accommodate persons with disabilities. The closure will begin immediately and may last through the winter, depending on fall weather conditions.

“We purchased this land nearly two years ago from private landowners who were operating the site as a boat ramp. This is a great location for people to access the Inland Sea, and acquisition was a critical step in maintaining this access for boaters and anglers, but the site was in serious need of upgrades. We think anglers and boaters will be very happy to see these improvements made.” ~ Mike Wichrowski, lands and facilities coordinator, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program

The construction project at John Guilmette Fishing Access area is being funded through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program. These funds are generated as part of an excise tax on fishing equipment, boats and motors, and marine fuel taxes.

To purchase a Vermont fishing license or to find out more about fishing opportunities in Vermont, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

 

 

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Vermont Watershed Grants Help Vermont Lakes, Rivers and Habitat

Vermont Watershed Grants Available to Help Vermont Lakes, Rivers and Habitat

The 2015 Vermont Watershed Grants Program is now accepting applications for funding projects that help Vermonters protect, restore and enjoy the state’s watersheds. The applications are due no later than Friday, November 21.

Vermont Watershed Grants Available to Help Vermont Lakes, Rivers and Habitat

“Watershed grants are available to municipalities, local or regional governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and water-related citizen groups, Many types of watershed projects are eligible, including those that protect or restore water quality, shorelines or fish and wildlife habitats. In light of the damage and lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene and other recent Vermont floods plus our ongoing efforts to better manage runoff containing nutrients and sediment, we are very interested in projects that implement practical measures or involve education affecting stream habitat protection, restoration, flood resiliency and related topics.” ~ Rick Hopkins of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC).

Vermont Watershed Grants Available to Help Vermont Lakes, Rivers and Habitat

The program, now in its 17th year, offers watershed groups and sporting clubs an opportunity to take on a project to help their local stream or lake. These projects can include planting trees, developing a watershed conservation plan or outreach program.

“We are blessed with many wonderful lakes and rivers in Vermont, and practices such as restoring vegetation along shorelines, removing old abandoned dams and improving storm runoff management can help improve their health and value for fish and wildlife.” ~ Rod Wentworth, of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

 

Vermont Watershed Grants Help Vermont Lakes, Rivers and HabitatVermont Watershed Grants Program is a joint project of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and VTDEC, and is funded by sales of Vermont Conservation License Plates. The program has funded almost 336 watershed projects statewide dating back to 1998. In 2015 the program has $100,000 available to fund three categories of projects. Those categories are: education and outreach ($7,500), planning, assessment, inventory, monitoring ($5,000) and on-the-ground implementation ($15,000).

“When Vermonters purchase a Conservation License Plate they’re helping protect healthy streams and lakes as well as conserving wildlife and important habitats for future generations. Proceeds from the sale of Conservation License Plates fund the Watershed Grants program and help support the Fish & Wildlife Department’s Nongame Wildlife Fund.” ~ Louis Porte, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner.

 

Watershed Grants application guides and application forms are available from the Watershed Management Division of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (802-828-1535), or from their website (www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/htm/lp_watershedgrants.htm).

Applications for the Vermont Conservation License Plate are available on the Fish & Wildlife website: www.vtfishandwildlife.com/support_plates.cfm, and at offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Ed Weed Fish Culture Station Improvement to Improve Health of Lake Champlain Salmon

Ed Weed Fish Culture Station Improvement to Benefit Lake Champlain’s Salmon

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department expects that an upgrade at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station in Grand Isle, Vermont will improve the health of the salmon population in Lake Champlain.

 

 

fish trap at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station in Grand Isle.
Fish Culture Operations Chief Adam Miller with a landlocked Atlantic salmon
from the newly-installed fish trap at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station in Grand Isle.

 

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department hatchery staff, fisheries biologists and other officials recently joined forces to construct a fish trap on the station’s discharge stream, Hatchery Brook. The trap will help to improve the collection process for adult salmon when they return to the brook to spawn.

After collection, the adult salmon will be used to reproduce and provide fertilized eggs at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station in Grand Isle, where the eggs will be hatched and the young salmon raised before their return to Lake Champlain.

“Being able to collect fish in a safe, efficient and effective way for both staff and salmon is key to our overall fisheries management plan. The improvements we’ve completed at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station allow us to meet these objectives more effectively and ultimately produce healthy salmon for our Lake Champlain restoration efforts.” ~ Adam Miller, fish culture operations chief with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

Former collection methods required more handling, put more stress on the fish, and were less efficient for hatchery staff and biologists.

“The new fish trap decreases the risk of injuries to adult salmon from handling and increases the health and condition of parent fish used to provide fertilized eggs to our hatchery system”. It should also decrease the stress on eggs taken from parent fish, which may improve egg survival rates in the hatchery.” ~ Chet MacKenzie, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

The fish trap will also help fisheries biologists more efficiently collect data  from large numbers of returning salmon. The data collected will feature lamprey wounding rates, fish size, abundance and age structure – aiding the department’s assessment of salmon restoration efforts.

Ed Weed Fish Culture Station Improvement to benefit Lake Champlain Salmon

Landlocked Salmon, Salmo salar

The fish trap will also serve as an education tool. The public will be able to see fish when the trap is in operation, learn about salmon restoration efforts at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station and in Lake Champlain, and learn about fish culture and the impacts of invasive species.

According to Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner, Louis Porter, “We are always looking for ways to protect and improve the health and number of fish and other wildlife in the most efficient ways possible. These improvements in how we trap fish, so we can collect and fertilize salmon eggs were developed by hatchery staff and fisheries biologists, and their efforts to come together to put in place cost-effective solutions to improve our work will benefit the salmon population for years to come.”

To purchase a Vermont fishing license or to find out more about fishing opportunities in Vermont, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

 

 

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