American shad were once so plentiful in Atlantic coastal rivers that colonists spread the fish on their fields for fertilizer. By the early 1900s shad numbers were in decline due to pollution, dams and overharvesting. Thanks to restoration efforts over the past 35 years, American shad are making a considerable comeback in the Connecticut River offering some exciting fishing opportunities. Host Lawrence Pyne fishes the Connecticut river with local angler Forest Woodruff to learn how to catch these strong fighting fish. He then meets up with Ken Cox, a fisheries biologist, to learn how fish ladders in dams along the river have brought the fish back north.
Well-camouflaged and extremely aggressive, Northern Pike will strike at just about anything that crosses their path. These fish are traditionally caught on lures or live bait. But when host Lawrence Pyne joins pike enthusiast Drew Price on Bristol Pond (Winona Lake) for a day of pike fishing, they break out the fly rods in pursuit of these great predators.
Late spring and early summer are when the hexagenia limbata are hatching and the fish are jumping. When these mayflies hatch in late spring and early summer several Vermont ponds offer anglers excellent opportunities to not only catch a lot of fish, but sizable ones as well. Host Lawrence Pyne and angler Leighton Wass journey to Seyon Pond and Caspian Lake during the hex hatch to experience the rewards of what Leighton calls "hexitis."
Although Lake Champlain is renowned for it's fine bass fishing, Vermont has many smaller, less famous lakes that also offer excellent opportunities for anglers to reel in a hefty largemouth or small-mouth. One of the best times to enjoy the great bass fishing that these inland lakes have to offer is in the early fall — boat traffic is almost non-existent and cooling water temperatures have summer-fat bass back on the prowl. Host Lawrence Pyne joins longtime bass guide Rod Start of Tinmouth, Vermont for a mid-September outing on Lake St. Catherine, one of several outstanding bass lakes in southwestern Vermont.
Getting to the best fishing hole on any river can be extremely difficult from shore. One way to get to just about anywhere on the river is by float fishing. Miniature inflatable pontoon boats give anglers the flexibility to fish on the move or stop at areas that might hold the big ones. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Bob Shannon of the Fly Rod Shop in Stowe, Vt., as he pumps up the pontoons for a guided float trip on the Lamoille River in search of trout.
The Fly Rod Shop
P.O. Box 960
Stowe, VT 05672
There are so many pieces that make up the fly fishing experience, it's easy to see why it takes people a while to grasp this challenging sport. Aside from mastering the artistry of the cast, there is the equipment, the conditions of the water, a knowledge of the hatching season of the various flies you are trying to emulate and a number of other factors that must be right to make a "good presentation" for the fish. Host Marianne Eaton joins instructor Truel Myers at the Orvis Fly Fishing School in Manchester for a fly fishing primer.
When many people think of ice fishing they think perch, crappie and other panfish that are popular with winter anglers. But from the third Saturday in January to the second Saturday in March on Lake Whiloughby in the Northeast Kingdom, fishermen turn their attention to bigger game under the ice. That's when lake trout season has anglers dreaming of twenty-pound-plus lunkers being pulled through the ice. The lake is famous for producing some of the largest trout in New England. A good-size laker trout in Whiloughby is between eight and ten pounds. But in 1986, Barry Cahoon of Danville went into the record books by pulling a twenty-six pounder out of the lake. Going after trout in January isn't for everyone. You have to be willing to dig through two feet of ice and put in some long hours watching your tip-ups in cold conditions. But for many New Englanders a day on the lake is more than just fishing. It's a chance to catch up with old friends, experience nature in the winter and, for a moment, dream a little of a big one on the end of your line. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Barry on a brisk February morning of fishing for big lake trout on Lake Whiloughby.
The Lake Champlain Basin is home to more than 70 species of fish, including the greatest assemblage of panfish in New England. Yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegill, smelt, bullhead and other panfish have long been popular targets for anglers both young and old, and in recent years crappie have been growing in popularity. Lake Champlain is home to two species of crappie, the common black crappie, or calico bass, and the white crappie, or silver bass. Black or white, crappies are fast becoming a lake favorite.
At one point walleye were the most popular game fish for recreational anglers in Vermont. A thriving commercial fish market existed for these toothy members of the perch family into the early 1960s, with as many as 65,000 harvested annually. During the late '70s and early '80s the population dwindled and concerns grew that overharvesting or environmental issues were responsible for the decline. In 1984, the Lake Champlain Walleye Association was formed with the goal of restoring, preserving and protecting the walleye fishery in the Lake Champlain Basin. The Association has worked closely with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife to monitor walleye populations. In the tributaries of Lake Champlain, fish are caught, measured, sexed and some tagged for research purposes. The Department also collects eggs for fertilization. Over the last six years they have collected 64 million walleye eggs, which has resulted in over 40 million fry being stocked in Lake Champlain. The first Saturday in May marks the opening day of walleye season on tributaries flowing into Lake Champlain. Host Lawrence Pyne heads out with walleye enthusiast Cubby Smith on the Lamoille in search of "Old Marble Eyes."
With more activities available to kids than ever before, fewer are taking advantage of the wonderful fishing in their own backyard. The best time to get someone interested in fishing is when they're young, and Vermont offers dozens of events to help introduce your child to the ancient art of angling. One of these events is the Gunner Brook Fishing Derby held in Barre, Vermont. Created over 70 years ago, It's the first fishing derby just for children in the United States. It's traditionally held on the Saturday before Father's Day and attracts children from all over the state. It's organized by the Barre Fish and Game Club. Participants must be 14 years or younger and there is a 3-fish limit per angler. We visit the 2003 derby and host Lawrence Pyne heads out on Monkton Pond with his kids to share some tips on how he keeps fishing fun and exciting for his family.
- Bare Fish & Game Club
PO Box 130
Barre, VT 05641