There is a great variety of fishing opportunities in and around Middlebury, with the deep waters of Lake Champlain to the west, and ample cold water streams running throughout the Green Mountains. Species that you might come across include landlocked salmon, large and small mouth bass, and trout of many varieties. However, there are a few things that you should know before going out.
Where to fish
Some of the best fishing in Lake Champlain is between Chimney Point and Burlington Harbor, particularly off the mouth of Otter Creek, just north of Vergennes. Large and small mouth bass fishing in this lake is touted as being excellent.
Directions: For Chimney Point, simply head west out of campus on Route 125 toward Lake Champlain. Also check out a spot across the Crown Point Bridge on the New York side. For the mouth of Otter Creek, take Route 7 north to Vergennes. Once on Main Street in Vergennes, take a right onto Sand Road, just before the bridge over the Otter Creek. Take your second left turn which takes you near the Otter Creek delta.
Fish-Facts: Since 1978 approximately 690,000 trout and salmon have been stocked annually into Lake Champlain. More than 80 fish species live in Lake Champlain.
Silver Lake and Goshen Dam (Sugar Hill Reservoir)
These locations are good for fishing from canoes. You can find brown and rainbow trout here.
Directions: For Silver Lake, follow the hiking directions. For Goshen Dam, take Route 7 south to Route 125. Turn left and go approximately 1/2 mile past Breadloaf to the USFS sign pointing to Sugar Hill Reservoir. Turn right and follow the proper signs.
Even though Lake Dunmore is a relatively small lake in comparison with Champlain, it has produced record size fish. Dunmore is best accessed by canoe. Dunmore is home to both the Vermont state record for rainbow trout (13.5 pounds) and largemouth bass (10.25).
Directions: Drive out of town on Route 7 south for 7 miles. Turn onto Route 53 and drive 3.6 miles tot he entrance to Branbury State Park. Either fish from the shore or launch your canoe here.
Fishing in Streams around Middlebury
There is excellent fly fishing in streams around the Middlebury area where you might find brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Matthew Dickerson, a professor at Middlebury College, is an avid fly-fisherman, and had compiled a great web-page devoted to fly-fishing. The following is adapted from his page.
New Haven River
The New Haven is a good place to find brown and rainbow trout. According to Dickerson big browns tend to reside near the confluence of the New Haven and Otter Creek. Upstream in Bristol you can find rainbows and up in Lincoln you can find brown trout.
You will find rainbow and brown trout in the Middlebury River which is as heavily fished as the New Haven. Small native brook trout are found in several branches of the river above the gorge.
The addition of cold water from the Middlebury River and New Haven makes Otter Creek a good spot to catch cold water fish such as brown and rainbow trout. A good place to find these fish is above Middlebury Falls. Beldon Falls is also a great place fish for big trout.
Rules and Regulations
Before you start fishing you must have a current Vermont Fishing license. You can purchase these at sporting good stores (such as Vermont Field Sports on Route 7 south), general stores, and town offices. These fees support the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, the organization responsible for stocking lakes and streams. These establishments can provide you with detailed guides to Vermont fishing laws that come with your license.
Open Water Season (lakes and streams):
* Second Saturday in April through through the last Sunday in October
* Bass season is from second Saturday in June through November 30th
* There is no closed season for trout on Lake Champlain
* From safe ice through the second Sunday in March (or sooner if your ice house breaks through)
Nuisance Aquatic Species
Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels are the most common exotic species that have wrecked havoc with natural ecosystems in Vermont waterways. These species, which are not native to Vermont, have been inadvertently introduced by boaters traveling through the region. Once introduced, they grow unfettered, partially due to the lack of natural predators, and disrupt the local native ecosystem.
It is important to help stop the spread of these exotic species from moving between lakes and streams. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife (VDFWL) suggest the following tips:
- Inspect your boat and trailer for any plants or other foreign objects. Dispose of them by putting the plants in a water-tight plastic bag.
- Drain all water from boat and discard all bait.
- Rinse your boat and equipment with water and dry in the sun for five days.
- Learn to recognize nuisance aquatic species
- Report sighting of nuisance aquatic species to the VDFWL.
In recent years, more than half of the loons found dead in Vermont have died as a result of ingesting lead tackle. There are nontoxic alternatives such as sinkers made from bismuth, tin, steel, and high-density resin putties that are harmless to waterfowl.
Adapted from The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Official Map and Guide and with help from Matthew Dickerson at http://www.middlebury.edu/~dickerso