SUMMERTIME FISHING DESTINATIONS
SOUTHERN VERMONT TROUT
When the warmer weather arrives nothing is better than packing up the camping and fishing gear and heading up to the green mountains. For many this means a long drive as far north as one can get however the southwestern part of Vermont has much to offer that involves much less driving time and I thought I’d write about the area around the Deerfield valley and some of the many great streams and lakes it is known for. Getting there is a cinch, simply find the easiest route from your home to Brattleboro, VT and then take RT 9 west over Hogback Mountain to Wilmington and you’re there. This small town offers many restaurants and lodges and is a great base of operation for a weekend fling. For the camping enthusiasts there are two state run campgrounds as well, the Molly Stark location on Rte. 9 just before Wilmington, and continuing on Rte. 9 west heading toward Bennington to the top of Woodford Mountain. Both are most excellent state run operations that offer tent sites as well as R/V lots with hook-ups. BRING SUPPLIES! While there is a small Shaws market in Wilmington it has a limited selection, so if filet mignon on the grill is your desire hit the bigger stores in Brattleboro or Keen to stock up. The same for fishing tackle. Most of the mom and pop stores offer bait and limited tackle but for anything major it’s best to bring plenty of back up rods, reels, and line.
The West Branch of the Deerfield River
This creek in itself makes a trip out here worth the time. Starting atop a mountain from Sommerset reservoir and snaking its way down to Searsberg Reservoir, then continuing on another several miles to Harriman Reservoir and finally all the way to Sherman Reservoir in Readsboro, the angler will find enough deep holes, and rapids to keep him or her busy for weeks without ever fishing the same water twice. The water in this stream is cold and pure unpolluted mountain goodness which the fish population thrives in. All three reservoirs as well as the stream itself are stocked heavily by Vermont Fish and Wildlife and have a thriving wild trout population as well. I have several spots I like to fish that are easily accessible, the first being a couple miles west from Wilmington off RT 9. Just before the first bridge there is a road on the right named Lind Lane and you can either park in a turnoff right there or continue up the lane to the end where there is also parking. From either spot there are paths and trails leading to various spots along the river to explore. Another easy spot to get to is about a mile farther up from Lind Land off a road on the right called Sommerset Road. This is the access road to the two reservoirs in Searsberg and Sommerset. Be warned, this is a dirt road and although it is accessible with the family car in summer, watch out for bumps, holes, moose, deer, and other critters along the way. About a mile up this road from RT 9 and just before the Searsberg Reservoir dam is a parking lot from which one can access some breathtaking pools and rapids that hold rainbows, browns and smallmouth bass. The scenery itself is worth the trip and short hike, and another wonderment apart from the fishing is the water tube that runs out from the gate at the dam. This construction boggles the mind. It is an above ground tunnel perhaps 8 feet by 8 feet constructed with wooden staves and fastened with steel hoops. The really mind blowing thing is it stretches over 2 miles to the downstream hydro-electric plant just before the Harriman Reservoir and is still in use today! It has to be the world’s longest barrel! Whenever I fish there I always ponder at the time, craftsmanship, and manpower it must have taken to construct this wonder of the Green Mountain State.
This is a HUGE body of water accessed via the Sommerset Road which I described earlier as being not far up RT 9 west out of Wilmington. From the start it is approximately 7 miles up a winding dirt road ending at the water where you will find a small boat ramp and several parking lots. There are also numerous picnic sites equipped with tables, fireplaces, and sometimes even firewood making this an excellent spot for a day of swimming, fishing and cookouts for family and friends. This is one of the places the average tourist never sees being as remote as it is and is well worth the trip. The lake is stocked with rainbow and brook trout and has its own population of large and small mouth bass as well. Fishing from the shoreline is not that good so if you tow your skiff or canoe up there it will increase you’re fishing success greatly. For the casual angler that prefers shores fishing there also are a number of small mountain spring fed brooks that hold a population of those small wild brook trout that in my opinion make a really nifty shore lunch especially when cooked over a wood campfire.
This is the first pond you encounter on the way to Sommerset approximately 2 miles from Rte. 9. Small in size but quite close to the road it does have decent parking spots and room to fish. This water is LOADED with yellow perch making it an excellent pond for the kids to have some fun with the bobbers and worms. Fish and Wildlife also stocks brook trout here and don’t be surprised to occasionally haul in a wild rainbow or brown. Several years ago, much to my surprise, I landed a 24 inch brown trout while bottom bouncing with a crawler just up from the dam.
Harriman is HUGE for this part of the state, in fact it actually is the largest body of water fully contained within Vermont. At over 8 miles long and stretching from Wilmington all the way down to Whittingham, this manmade lake is a prime destination for many summer vacationers every year not only for its smallmouth bass, trout, and perch fishing, but also for the easy accessibility and amenity’s. The town of Wilmington offers 4 public parks and boat ramps, plus a small privately owned marina that offers boat and kayak rentals. Throw in 5 centrally located restaurants, coffee shops, book and antique stores, plus a gaggle of lodges, and you have a most excellent summer getaway for the casual weekender that doesn’t want to be hassled with miles of dirt roads and sleeping in a tent.
A little out of the Deerfield Valley, and half in Massachusetts, this small lake is in the town of Readsboro. It’s not the most picturesque place in the world to fish, and is not even that user friendly for shore fishing. Most fishing is done from boat launched from the one boat ramp. This being said however, Sherman holds some of the largest brown trout in the Northeast. Look up Vermont state records online and you will see that numerous fish over 20 pounds have been hauled out of Sherman over the years, in fact the present top fish was caught here just 3 years ago. The best spot that I have found to spend an afternoon casting and dreaming of lunkers is right below hydro-plant discharge which is located just outside of town below the RT 100 Bridge.
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