Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Working a streamer
One of the species I had remaining to target for the Vermont Master Angler Program was an old friend of mine- the landlocked Atlantic salmon. I was very fortunate to have started fly fishing when the sea lamprey control program was first making inroads on Lake Champlain. The mid to late '90's were an amazing time to be fishing Champlain tribs and going to college in Plattsburgh I had one of the best quite literally right out my door. I spent a lot of time swinging streamers in the fall and drifting nymphs during the winter. I caught a lot of fish and my love of landlocked salmon has stayed with me.

I jumped at the chance of heading to a spot I had yet to fish for landlocks. Kurt Budliger had fished there many times and invited me to head up with him. Its a place I had heard about many times but had not yet had the opportunity to visit. Sorry, not putting down the name, but most guys in Vermont will probably know where I am talking about. I was a bit surprised when I got to the river. It is much more like brook trout water than what I am used to for salmon. The river was relatively small, but certainly had plenty of water in it. The very high gradient made for a lot of pocket water and there were some deeper holes to work, especially lower.

Changing tactics paid off- 26" buck salmon in hand!
Kurt and I worked the river pretty hard. It was a very warm day despite being late September. Wearing waders and walking around when it is in the low 80's isn't always fun but the cool water made it much more pleasant. We tossed nymphs mostly- a bugger with a nymph dropper is the norm for this river and can be quite effective but what Kurt and I mostly accomplished was to deplete our fly boxes.

I was at a really nice deep hole- one of the deepest- and I thought that I would try out a smaller smelt pattern of my own creation. I put it on a long leader with a single Dinsmore shot. I dropped that into the current and let it sink into the pool behind a rock. I then started working it back slowly. Sure enough I had a tug and then a fish exploded out of the water!  It was a salmon and a nice one at that. It made a number of runs and a few jumps but fortunately it stayed within the pool. Once it came to net I measured it to 26". I needed 24" for the Master Angler Program.  We got a bunch of pictures and released the fish. I can't wait to see what Kurt's camera got- especially the close up shots. Definitely check out his web site if you haven't seen his work before.
Gorgeous fish in a gorgeous location- I'll be back!

The rest of the day was relatively fruitless. We saw a few fish, caught some small bass. Kurt managed a small brown too. All in all a great day on the water. Just what I needed.

That fish puts me at 19 different species entered into the program so far (out of a total of 33), my 6th new species this year and gives me a total of 37 entries into the Master Angler Program so far. I still have more fishing to do... A few species are on the list to catch... including a few I have never fished for before. Stay tuned... the adventure continues...