Anglers offer opening day trout advice
If you're planning on heading out for the opening day of trout season Saturday, there are several pieces of advice to keep in mind. First, dress warmly. The second Saturday in April doesn't usually provide balmy temperatures. Second, pack a good attitude along with your lunch. The Vermont trout opener isn't about catching fish as much as celebrating the tradition of the season opener.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department releases information every spring to help anglers. Advice includes tips such as fishing deep, near the bottom, and to retrieve your spinner slowly, to give sluggish trout more chances to decide to bite. Fly anglers should offer trout something larger and flashier then one might normally use. Woolly Buggers, egg patterns, streamers and similar patterns might entice a trout.
Anglers familiar with local water offer more specific advice.
At the Reel Angler in Manchester, husband and wife owners Wayne Hric and Dagmar Neubauer think people should get out and fish and enjoy the season opener.
"Opening day of trout season can be a very exciting time," Neubauer said. "The anticipation of spring, the feel of the rod bend with your first hookup, and of course fish stories abound. Many make it an annual event year after year. It's tradition."
Hric suggest trying local water like Bull Head Pond in Manchester, Lake Shaftsbury State Park in Shaftsbury and Lake Paran in North Bennington.
"The ponds are stocked with lively brook trout and in some cases big rainbow trout," Hric said. "It makes the 'catching' a little easier for the newcomers. Access is easy and one can catch from shore without the need for a boat."
Hric said the mountain lakes may still be iced over, but a stretch of warm days could open them up.
The Reel Angler suggests standard baits like worms, Powerbait or spinners.
Worms come in three sizes ranging from earthworms to thin red trout worms. Powerbait comes in dough, nuggets and other options.
If you're throwing hardware, try a No. 2 or 3 Mepps in gold or silver, or a No. 7 Rapala countdown. Other options include a No. 4 or 6 Thomas Tiger spoon or a Panther Martin spinner with a silver blad and gold body with red dots.
Hric and Neubauer suggest stoneflies and streamers fished slow and deep for fly anglers.
And one of the great advantages of having a local fishing shop is when you stop in to pick up a few flies or some worms, you'll get the latest and best information.
Journal fishing writer Doug Lyons says for him, it's all about family and traditions. Fish come second.
"For me, Opening Day is about tradition," Lyons said. "My dad and I used to go to the same diner every year. Pancakes, sausage and home fries. I can still taste and smell the grease. And for others the day means getting together, eating good food and enjoying good drink and waiting for more favorable days in the not so distant future. That's how my day will be spent."
If you want to catch fish, like others, Lyons suggest waiting until later in the day to give the water a chance to warm.
"I would suggest that it's best to wait for the waters to warm, which means waiting until afternoon and warmer water temps," Lyons said. "Even an uptick of a couple of degrees can make the difference between success and failure. There might be something magic about being on the water as dawn breaks but it also means frozen guides, frozen fingers and lethargic trout."
Fishing with kids means trying a different tactic to try to get the kid onto a trout, even if means giving up your fly-fishing only dedication and using a worm.
"For kids, in particular, I think it's important to start out with garden hackle," Lyons said. "There are plenty of opportunities for more refined methods but digging up worms, baiting one's hook and the anticipation of a sharp take as the bait drifts downstream is great stuff."
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