Lake Champlain Fishing Looking Good
While Lake Champlain's high water continues to make life difficult for those living near the big lake, anglers there are finding almost ideal fishing conditions for a wide variety of species.
The high, cold, muddy water had delayed feeding activity for a wide variety of Champlain's gamefish, but recent weather has kick-started both the fish and fishing activity.
"The water is still high, but the temperatures have started to warm and the water clarity has really improved in the last week or so," said Shawn Good, a fisheries biologist with the department on the southern end of the lake. Good said anglers targeting crappie, bass and northern pike are finding good success.
On the northern reaches of the lake, biologist Bernie Pientka said landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing is beginning to hit full stride, and bass anglers are also finding improving action.
"We are definitely on the upswing," said Pientka. "There are reports of anglers catching salmon all over - from the Inland Sea to Converse Bay to parts of the Broad Lake, and the spring catch-and-release bass fishing on Lake Champlain is probably as good as it is anywhere."
Underscoring Pientka's assertion that Champlain's outstanding bass fishing reputation is well-earned is a quote in the June issue of Field & Stream magazine by professional angler Mike Iaconelli, the 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
In a feature titled "If you could fish anywhere this summer..." Iaconelli says his choice is Lake Champlain, where catch-and-release bass fishing is allowed until the regular bass season begins on June 11. Iaconelli says "My favorite way to fish here is with a Texas-rigged Berkley Devil Spear, pitching it in and around vegetation."
Both Pientka and Good reminded anglers that not all of the department's fishing access areas are fully operational because of flooding, but there is a list of open access areas on the department's Web page (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). Boaters are also cautioned about the large amount of debris in the lake, and they are asked to be mindful of their boat wakes when operating vessels close to shore.
Anglers holding a valid Vermont fishing license may also fish Lake Champlain west of the Vermont/New York border to the New York shore, but may not fish in South Bay or New York tributaries to Lake Champlain without a New York license.
This is a great time of year to be out on the water, and the fishing is really coming on strong. Be sure to check out the "Master Angler" entries on Vermont Fish and Wildlife's website, and see if you can go out and catch one of your own.