The late return of spring weather and persistent ice may alter the plans of some anglers this year. While the winter weather extends opportunities for ice fishing on some water bodies, it can also delay anglers’ access to open water for the start of trout season.
Trout fishing season opens on April 12 this year, but on most waters in Vermont trout fishing is restricted to casting and trolling rather than ice fishing. Anglers should take note that on rivers, streams, and lakes with seasonal closures, they may not cut a hole through the ice to go ice-fishing for trout during the open-water trout season.
Lake Champlain, however, is open to year-round trout fishing and it does not matter whether the angler is ice fishing or fishing open water. Many other lakes and ponds are open to year-round fishing for species such as yellow perch and northern pike. For a list of year-round fishing spots, see the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website, www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
“Late springs such as this one traditionally delay the onset of open-water fishing by a few weeks,” said Col. David LeCours, Fish & Wildlife’s head of law enforcement. “But during these years, the ice fishing on lakes such as Champlain and Memphremagog remains good as long as the ice remains stable and safe.”
LeCours reminded anglers that ice shanties must have been removed by the last Sunday in March, even if the ice remains thick. Temporary fabric wind shelters that remain with the angler are permitted. He also urged anglers to check fishing regulations regarding which waters remain open to fishing year round.
Anglers should proceed with caution and continuously check ice thickness and stability when walking out on ice. Ice conditions have become dangerously thin in many parts of Vermont.