Monday, April 16, 2012

Opening Weekend 2012

Kicking things off right!
What a whirlwind ride! Unbelievable conditions for the opening weekend of trout season in Vermont! The water is very low for this time of year across the state and it is warm with most streams in the mid to upper 40’s. Bugs are coming off in droves; stoneflies, caddis and mayflies. Yes, you heard right, mayflies are on the surface already. I saw both Hendricksons and Blue Quills on the water.

To kick things off right I made the yearly migration to Middlebury for the Fly Fishing Film Tour with my buddy Kevin. It was pretty awesome (as always) but if I had one gripe it was that there were too many trout films. I thought last year had a better mix of saltwater and warmwater with salmonid fishing and this year there wasn’t a single warmwater film and 3 saltwater. Is this a lame gripe? I suppose it depends upon your perspective but being a warmwater/alternative species kinda guy/guide I will always advocate for my corner of the fly fishing world! Thanks to Jesse Haller of the Middlebury Mountaineer for all the hard work he does to put F3T together and congrats to the New Haven River Anglers for another successful event!
Gov. Shumlin with a happy young angler

So I was asked to guide Governor Peter Shumlin for the trout opener again this year. I feel much honored to be asked to do this and I did my best. Of course he only had a limited amount of time to fish and the fish weren’t cooperating for him. I worked with him for a while and then he started helping out my friend Shawn Good’s 5 year old son Aiden cast. Aiden was pretty psyched to meet the Gov and had a great time fishing. I even gave him a few casting lessons with the fly rod- the kid is a natural! After the Governor left I got my first fish of the open season, a decent rainbow.

I went and checked out some of my old haunts after that. Things have definitely changed since Irene blew through. Some of the pools that were awesome are now filled in significantly while others are very deep. I saw a few nice fish and cast for quite a while at a big cruising rainbow to no avail. I met up with Kurt Budliger for a bit and fished together. I know he got a few good pics of me fishing in my special new set up… I will put up some shots of that when he gets a couple to me…
Nice 15" rainbow- a chunky one!

Sunday morning got off to a great start for me. I started working streamers like I always do this time of year. Within a few minutes I felt a bump and then my line started moving upstream. A nice rainbow was on the end of it. Pretty stoked, a nice 15” wild bow never hurts first thing in the morning. That fish was caught, photographed and released. Just downstream I had another ‘bow on for a few seconds before a long distance release. Not bad, not bad…
nice hen there...

Then things got interesting. I drifted through a nice deep pocket and on the third or fourth drift I got a bump and I raised the rod. A nice brown was on the end of the line. It took me downstream I played it pretty gingerly because I had 6 lb fluoro tippet (my favorite- Orvis Mirage). It made a few nice runs and put a very nice bend in my 5 wt. I landed that 22 inch hen with a big smile on my face. Gorgeous wild brownie. No complaints for sure.

After some photos and a splashy release I went back up to the same hole. I thought, hey, why not? Could be another in there. The first drift confirmed that supposition. The line stopped and there was weight on the end of it: a significant weight at that… This was a true toad. Once again I was careful in how I played this fish. It was a dawg and I didn’t want to lose it. It bulldogged me around a bit and then I beached it in the same place I did the first fish. It was a real corker with an awesome hump on it. It taped out at 24.5”. That is the kind of fish I was looking for! It swam off with a lot of heart in it. I will be looking for it again.

A walk downstream hooked me up with another rainbow that got off and I almost stepped on another nice brown. I walked back up toward my truck. I noticed that my fly was trashed so I replaced it. As I passed that spot again I could not help but drift through it again. After about half a dozen casts I was giving the rod tip a bit of action toward the end of the drift when another brown charged up off the bottom and crashed the fly! This one wasn’t quite as big but it had a lot of heart to it. It had my reel spinning pretty hard. The fish was landed and photographed. 19” is still nothing to laugh about but I could not stop giggling. 3 big fish out of the same spot in less than an hour is any angler’s dream. To have it happen this early in the season is rather surreal.

I headed to a different spot. I had a couple of grabs at the fly but nothing significant until I got down to a nice little bend pool I know of. As the fly drifted through the pool I saw a flash and tightened my line. Sure enough there was a fish there and it immediately shot downstream. A rainbow this time and a nice one at that. It was definitely a hot fish. 19” of rainbow can definitely put a nice bow in a rod. That was my last fish of the day. I can't complain about it- 99.5" of trout in only 5 fish is pretty awesome!

The trout fishing in Vermont is pretty hot right now. I have next week mostly free (April 22 through April 29). With the weather we are having the great fishing for trout will continue and other fishing will be on too. Pike, bass, suckers, bowfin, pickerel and others will be on the menu. If anyone is interested in getting into any of these please shoot me an email to I would love to get you out to take advantage of these awesome early spring conditions!

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