Thursday, April 24, 2014

Master Class Metalhead!

I am on a quest to get all of the species in the Vermont Master Angler Program... been hitting it hard for the past few years. Until this morning I had 23 species but I have been fishing hard to get #24 and it paid off... scratch the rainbow trout off the list- the final salmonid! 

A special shout out to Dave Hise at Caster's Fly Shop for his Eggi Juan Kenobi fly pattern... A variation of it is what this big girl took. It is one of many Master Angler entries on an EJK... it works great man!  The other notable fish that took the EJK is my state record white sucker... 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sucker Spawn

One big mama sucker...
and some sucker spawn
Sucker spawn flies... see any similarities?  Did you notice the fly in the sucker's mouth?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Return of the Suckers...

This means...   
this... which means...
THIS!   (photo courtesy of Kurt Budliger)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flowing Free!

What a difference a few days makes on a river! We have had gorgeous weather over the past few days and here are the results... I think the before and after photos in (almost) the same spot tell the story best!

Sunday April 6, 2014
Thursday April 10, 2014
Sunday April 6, 2014
Thursday April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vermont 2014 Trout Opener Forecast- Revision

Opening day for trout in Vermont is this coming Saturday, April 12. We are coming off a pretty hellacious winter with extremely low temperatures, some significant snowfall and a late spring. I made a few predictions about the opener last weekend after getting out on the water for the first time in a long time based on what I was seeing. I think it was pretty good for the time and there are some things that I still think are important- especially being careful near all that ice stacked up along the banks (it is seriously dangerous stuff to walk on or through- use a lot of caution). It is five days later and time for an update.

Things keep getting warmer and we had a good spate of rain. Rivers are running pretty hard at the moment. Temperatures in the mid 50's to low 60's have been seen in the Champlain Valley over the past few days and temps look like they will be similar for the next little while as well. This has significantly reduced the snow here in the Champlain Valley. Rain on Monday has certainly made a difference with that as well. This bodes well.

The snow pack in the higher elevations is still significant which could impact the first weekend of trout fishing. If we were to get significant rainfall in the next couple of days it could blow the rivers out making fishing next to impossible. Fortunately the only precipitation is less than a tenth of an inch. 

Looking at the USGS river gauges is a great way to tell what is safe to fish. Keep an eye open for significant rises in river levels. If they are running high then stay away from them. The Winooski, Lamoille and Otter Creek and other larger rivers are likely to be unfishable this coming weekend. I would personally stay will small to mid sized rivers myself, especially ones that have a fairly small watershed that may have seen significant melting already. They will clear up first. Of course there are other factors, notably development and agriculture that can have a huge impact on water clarity. 

I will definitely be heading out there this weekend. I think there will be some good shots at some big fish if you know where to look for them. I do. And nope, I'm not sharing where... but if you want to tangle with some big dogs I am available to guide!  April and May are big brown months. I can do my best to put you on big trout. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

We Be Jammin'

I hit another stream yesterday. I found more open water but no fish this time. Serious, serious ice jams though. It isn't going to be long now before things start to happen. 

A note of caution. The river was high and dirty. I stepped in a few times to get a better place to cast from. I was standing on what seemed like solid ground but it was shelf ice. I found out the hard way- the shelf broke and I dropped about a foot. Fortunately it was onto solid ground but with water just around the freezing mark be careful out there!

Another cool thing I saw yesterday was some invertebrate activity. Brown stones, beetle larvae (which look a lot like craneflies) and Gammarus  (scuds, and they were big- size 8 or 10). I have pics that I will put up tomorrow. 

It is pretty cool to be out there while the ice jams are working. There is a slight groan as the ice starts to move, then the crush of ice falling, grumbling as it works through then the rush of ice and slush as water moves. Really very cool. Every now and then you hear a big boom and crunch as a big jam gives way. 

It won't be long now...

Yes, there is a river in there somewhere...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Current River Conditions/Trout Opener Forecast

Yesterday a good friend of mine and I spent some time scouting out a couple of Lake Champlain tributaries. It seemed like a great idea on a wonderful warm afternoon. There was hope that there could be a steelhead or two around. It turned into a nice day for a walk. 
So here is what I am seeing: the rivers are still iced up but in the process of breaking up. There is evidence of ice damming and then the dam gives and the process starts again. Much of the ice in rivers has sediment over it which gives me the evidence of the damming/breaking repetition. A good flush of water and lots of warm temps will help a lot.

The banks will take a lot longer right now. There is a tremendous amount of ice that came from the all too short break in the cold we had in January. There is 8-12" thick chunks of ice stacked like books along the banks. You can see this in the photos. It is about 3-5 FEET high. It is treacherous walking- easy to turn an ankle or break something if you are not cautious. I have seen this a long many rivers so really watch yourself. 
My forecast for the upcoming opener a week from today: cautiously optimistic with a healthy dose of reality. We have warm temps forecast for the next few days. There does seem to be a decent rainfall in the forecast as well. This would help things out. The big downside is that there is a lot of snowpack still up in the hills and mountains. Once this warms and/or we get a big rain event then things will blow out and blow out in a BIG way. That kind of situation makes for horrible fishing and, simply put, dangerous conditions to be around. Watch the weather and the gauging stations closely. Many of the gauging stations are currently ice affected but that should change quickly. That only impacts the Discharge data so you can get an idea of what the river is doing by looking at the River Stage. If it seems unsafe, it likely is. 

The reality is that the trout opener next weekend might be a wash. I am hoping that I am wrong but a lot depends on weather conditions. If we don't get a lot of rain and the temps stick around the low 40s then some rivers might open up enough to fish and have a decent color (a green stain is much preferable to chocolate milk). Fingers crossed!

 Be safe out there. Better weather and fishing conditions are coming soon!