About a decade ago, a group of hunters got together to do volunteer work improving the habitats of Vermont's wild creatures. From that small beginning, the Working for Wildlife program has spread to an effort involving volunteers at dozens of sites around the state on the last weekend in April. The focus is always on making the wild land work better for the wildlife that live there. We travel to the White River to look at efforts to reform a riparian buffer and to the woods of central Vermont to watch apple trees being released.
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
When the first settlers arrived in Vermont, Lake Champlain teemed with lake trout and land-locked Atlantic salmon. But by the early 1900s, over-fishing, sea lampreys and degraded spawning habitat had wiped out the lake's once great trout and salmon fishery. Thanks to a 30-year cooperative program involving the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, New York DEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the big lake's trout and salmon have come back in a big way. Today, Lake Champlain is one of the country's top producers of lunker lakers and trophy landlocks. Of the two, lake trout are particularly abundant, and they provide a high-quality, year-round fishery. Host Lawrence Pyne heads out onto Lake Champlain with Captain Dick Greenough of Sure Strike Charters in search of lakers. Dick is also the creator of the Hot Item Lure, which can be found at your local bait and tackle shops in the Champlain Valley.
Ospreys were all but eliminated in Vermont due to the use of the pesticide DDT. The pesticide, which caused the birds to produce brittle eggs that were prone to breakage, was banned in 1972. Since then, the osprey has staged a dramatic comeback but is still losing valuable nesting habitat due to lakefront development. One of the ways ospreys have been helped is with the construction and placement of nesting platforms on the utility poles they tend to nest on. We join members of Green Mountain Power as they re-locate an osprey nest built on a house chimney to a new home in a tree platform. And we look at the osprey recovery efforts of Central Vermont Public Service and a concerned citizen on Lake Arrowhead in Milton who was instrumental in the development of nesting platforms there.
For around 200 miles, the Connecticut River forms the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire, offering a number of great stretches to paddle and enjoy the scenery. It is a river filled with many personalities — peppered with whitewater in some sections and gentle pools and eddies in others. In a southern part of the river near Windsor, Vermont, lies a 12-mile stretch that makes a perfect day paddle adventure. Host Marianne Eaton joins Eric Hanson from Northstar Canoe Rentals in Cornish, New Hampshire, to paddle this stretch of the Connecticut and spend the night at one of the primitive campsites along the river.
Archery is one of the fastest growing field sports in the country. Thanks to developments in equipment, it is easier than ever to become a proficient archer. The physical part of archery is the form and developing a routine. But the most important part is the discipline and the mental aspect of this sport. It's not the biggest and strongest person who is a successful archer. It's someone whose strength lies in his or her focus and discipline. It is a sport of consistency. Host Marianne Eaton joins Ron Pelkey of Pelkey's Archery in St. Albans for an archery lesson, and then visits the Chittenden County Fish and Game Club in Jonesville for a 3-D archery tournament benefiting the Hunt of a Lifetime program. The program brings hunting and fishing experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses.
To escape the cold, Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from the Northeastern United States to their wintering grounds in forests high in the mountains of Mexico. A program called "Monarch Watch" at the University of Kansas monitors the annual migration. Monarch Watch involves thousands of students and adults around the United States and Canada, rearing and tagging the butterflies in an effort to learn more about their migratory behavior. At the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier you can learn more about Vermont's butterfly population, including the Monarch, by visiting their butterfly garden. We visit the butterfly garden at the Center to learn more about what you can plant to attract more butterflies, and we join naturalist Bryan Pfeiffer on a Monarch tagging expedition in Addison County.
In Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, when you see birds on the water in the summer, they're chasing bait fish, and so are the Striped Bass that are running along the coast. Inland-based anglers come from all over New England to fish for Stripers, making it the number one game fish in Plymouth Bay. Stripers are for all kinds of fishermen. They're a great fish for kids to catch off of docks. They're for people who want to go out and dunk bait. You can dress sea worms for them, use a fly rod, soft plastics or stick bait. Stripers can weigh upwards of 60 to 70 pounds, and thanks to strict conservation measures, the fishing seems to get better every year. Host Lawrence Pyne joins guide Randy Julius of Misty Morning Charters on Plymouth Bay for a day of fishing for stripers.
Arch Tilford created the Green Mountain Grabber fishing lure around 1956. It was a simple lure made from three hooks strung together on monofilament, a few red beads and a spinner blade. The grabber went on to become one of the most popular lures of the mid- to late-1900s for catching walleye, bass and pike in Vermont. In fact, you'll still find them in many tackle boxes today. They're now distributed by Green Mountain Tackle, and most bait shops in the Champlain Valley carry them. Host Lawrence Lawrence Pyne hooks up with Arch, who at age 93 is still going strong at his summer camping retreat where he shares some great stories and shows us how to catch some Silver Lake rainbow trout.
- Green Mountain Sporting Supplies
174 Manley Road
Milton, VT 05468
Wood turtles have been a part of Vermont's diverse wildlife for the past ten thousand years. These moderately sized turtles with reddish-orange skin and roughly textured shells may live 60 years. But despite their long history, concern for this species is on the rise in the northeast due to the turtles' region-wide decline. Humans are the main cause of this. As more housing and commercial development takes place near streams, rivers and wetlands, turtles loose habitat. The building of roads through turtle corridors creates a dangerous situation for the creatures. In addition, wood turtles have been removed from the wild and kept as pets by individuals unaware that they were seriously impacting the turtle population. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department monitors wood turtle populations by tagging selected turtles with radio transmitters in an effort to learn more about how they adapt to the changing landscape. We venture out into the field with Steve Parren, chief of the department's Nongame and Natural Heritage Program (NNHP) to track tagged wood turtles.