It’s Time.

It Won’t Be Long Now

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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.

Sommerset Reservoir
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.

Searsberg Reservoir

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 Reservoir
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.

Sherman Reservoir

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.
Tight Lines,
Capt. Don

vermont fishing

IMAG0489streams are low, fishing is great. No cod fishing in the ocean per order of NMFS so might as well enjoy the trout.


April 19 and the streams and rivers are still raging with little hope for next week because of a forecast of much rain. Lets hope for May.



Well here it is, October, in my opinion the most magical and long awaited for month of the year. At the time of this writing, September 22, I have just gotten home from a couple days of sitting in my tree stand in the southeast part of NH and wanted to report what I saw. The weather was beautiful, warm but with a cool feel of fall on the wind and no bugs. I guess that cold snap last week took care of them, thank you Mother Nature! Plenty of deer moving around, the usual gaggles of family groups for this time of year. I sat in three different places Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and night and counted 8 deer, 4 does and 4 fawns but nothing to try out my new Hoyt Spyder on,(read that as NH state record) . Lots of fawns this fall, a good sign for the next few seasons if they survive that long. There seems to be plenty of feed this year, white oak acorns, apples and browse. I think we will see an outstanding month here in October.
There are many new folk getting into the shooting and hunting sports and with newcomers come questions on the tools of the trade. I thought maybe I could be of some help if I shared information on some of the guns and gadgets I have used over the years.
At this stage of the game, (approaching the golden years) my kids have most of my firearms and I have only retained one pump shotgun and a muzzle loader. Many of the places I hunt deer are restricted to shotgun only and I really have no desire to collect a ton of rifles I won’t use; besides I can always borrow them back. Over the years I have had many fine weapons in various calibers that have served me well hunting in New England. Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire all share pretty much the same landscape and there are plenty of choices in firearms that will serve well in the pursuit of white tail deer. I have owned lever, bolt, and semi auto actions and found all of them just fine for this region. It all boils down to a matter of personal preference, whatever makes you happy. Out of all of them I enjoyed my lever guns the most, again a matter of personal preference. As far as calibers go the choices are numerous. It seems like every year there are newer and faster offerings from the ammunition and gun maker companies. I found that I never needed any of the super magnums or long range loads, most bullet diameters from .25 to .30 are perfect for the relatively short range,(50-150 yard) shots most common here in the northeast. The calibers I have used over the years have been the 30-30 Winchester, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 30-06 Winchester, .257 Roberts, .300 savage and .307 Winchester. They all did their job when called on and is a well-rounded group for the purpose of killing a deer. Although I have never owned one the .308 Winchester is another fine all around caliber suited for the woods of the Northeast. Once again it’s a matter of personal tastes, if lugging around a Lazzaroni custom rifle chambered for the 7.82 Warbird makes you happy then go for it, it certainly will do the job but it’s a tad bit overpowered for this region. Shotguns are a great all-around choice in that with interchangeable barrels your weapon can double as a bird gun and then accompany you in a deer blind latter in the fall. New and advanced technology have made the shotgun slugs scary accurate in recent years. Muzzleloaders too have come light years and sometimes the only difference between them and a modern rifle is the fact that you still need to load them one shot at a time from the front. I first bought a black powder gun almost 20 years ago and still have it today. It was one of the first removable breech plug inline models Thompson offered, a System One, and to this day it still puts them in the ten ring every time. The big drawback to primitive firearms however is you really have to keep them clean, no matter how easy it is to run a patch through the bore they require a lot of TLC at the end of hunting season before going back into the storage safe or gun locker.
Archery is a tough one to talk about to the beginner from my standpoint. I only got into bows a couple decades ago because at a young age I tried it with very bad equipment with very bad results. As I was heavy into firearms I never considered tossing arrows until someone gave me an old compound bow and I discovered I could actually hit what I was aiming at. That was a turning point for me, archery became my passion with each new year, new bow, and getting involved in 3-D completion. Just because it makes me happy I trade in my bows every 3 years for the newest top of the line offered,(one of my few indulgences) but if one is happy with a particular make and model it should serve you well for many years. I would say to a beginner go to a good pro shop and ask about trying some equipment before purchasing a set-up from a big box store. A good shop will work with you and will have you shooting in a shorter time you could imagine. Hunting in archery is truly an art form that requires much time to develop self-discipline, patience, and practice, but there is nothing like harvesting a white tail deer with a bow.
To the beginner going afield there are many gadgets offered on the market to make the hunt more easy and successful. Camo and sent free clothing seems to be the biggie these days. While I’m sure the manufactures claims are in the ball park you really don’t have to spend a bundle on attire to go hunting, or fishing for that matter. Back in the day we got by just fine hunting in the fall wearing plaid woolen jackets and pants, and to this day I enjoy trout fishing in a pair of shorts and sneakers. The only thing I would stress about hunting clothes is keep them clean and stored in a container with hemlock branches or whatever natural vegetation is indigenous to where you live. One thing not to skimp on is warm clothes. Good heat retaining light boots, gloves, hats and jackets will make your days outdoors more enjoyable.
When going afield travel light. A small survival kit, field glasses, knife, flash light, tow rope, jug of water and cell phone is pretty much what I carry, (well, maybe a sandwich) no need for any extra weight. Most everything else I leave back in the truck if I need it. Getting out hunting, fishing, or just hiking should be safe and enjoyable, but not a job.
Tight lines,
Capt Don


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