Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont Fishing Report – October 17, 2019

Even large, wary brown trout can be fooled with a well-placed soft plastic.

Fishing Report For Vermont

It’s raining out. A lot. As I sit here writing, the weather forecasters are telling me we’re in the midst of what they are calling a “Bomb Cyclone.” Not sure what that is, but OK. I do know that we could use the rain. Maybe not all at once, mind you. Mother Nature could spread it out a little! Fortunately, the rain and winds are projected to move out by Friday evening, and the weekend forecast looks pretty good. Despite the raging rivers most of you are seeing right now, this pulse of water was what we’ve been waiting for. It will pull salmon up the Clyde River, the Winooski, the Lamoille, the Missisquoi, and a bunch of other smaller tributaries. It should also get browns and brookies moving in the smaller rivers and streams. If rivers aren’t too blown out, this weekend could be a great time to look for salmon and trout. If they’re still too high to fish, give it a day or two.

We’ve got two weeks left in trout season (closes Oct. 31), so as the rivers crest and then subside, the rest of the season should provide some outstanding fishing to close it out. But that doesn’t mean you have to hang up the rods on Halloween. There are 17 trout rivers around the state open all winter to catch and release, bass season goes to November 30 then switches to catch and release, and many species are open year-round.

One note regarding these reports: the frequency may go down a bit in November and December, but we’ll be picking it back up for ice fishing. Stay tuned!

—Shawn Good, Fisheries Biologist

Lake Champlain

Cold Water Species
In the October 4th report, I wrote about trolling for trout and salmon in November and December on Champlain. Well, it looks like things are ramping up a bit earlier this year, according to other department fisheries biologists and members of the Frostbite Fleet.

Bernie Pientka, fisheries biologist for northern Lake Champlain says that Hatchery Cove in front of Ed Weed Fish Culture Station on Grand Isle is really starting to load up with landlocked Atlantic salmon. Raised in that hatchery, the mature salmon cue in on the outflow that enters the cove next to the ferry landing, and make a “spawning run” up this short brook. We’ve got a trap at the top end of the brook where we collect returning salmon to strip their eggs for rearing in the hatchery. Bernie says that as of today, 264 salmon have entered the trap, including this 5.25-lb, 24-inch fish collected this morning. The cove is loaded! The lake trout won’t be far behind (when water temperatures drop below 50°F), and although they don’t run up Hatchery Brook, they can be caught from shore and boats around the ferry breakwall.

Frequent report contributor Ron Winter from Essex Junction VT says the first two weeks of October produced some of the best salmon fishing he’s seen in many years, and says the onset of the “early winter” bite is several weeks ahead of schedule this year. Water temperatures at the surface have dropped to 56°F, and fish are shallow – he’s catching 20- to 25-inch salmon in the Converse Bay area trolling 25’ to 35’ down. Ron says his most productive lure has been the Crazy Ivan Blue Moon spoon, and he sent me this photo of Molly Flint with a 6-lb salmon caught on October 14.

Matt Glebus of Port Henry NY sent in his first contribution to the Vermont fishing report (much appreciated Matt). What gets me excited for Matt’s report is that he’s a shore-based angler that targets trout and salmon on Champlain and its tributaries. Matt finds both trout and salmon cruising the shorelines and around the mouths of rivers, and casts heavy spoons from shore. Since Columbus Day, Matt’s landed several nice brown trout, 5 landlocked Atlantic salmon, and even a couple lake trout right from shore using Krocodile and Honey Bee spoons. If you give it a shot, make sure the spoon has some blue on it. Matt says shore fishing will only get better from here on out, and it’s a ton of fun with minimum gear needs.

Warm Water Species
The bass and pike diehards are still going at it on the big lake as well. Barre VT angler John Rielly wrote in to say he’s found that smallmouth bass in the Inland Sea are moving a bit deeper, towards their wintering areas, but there’s still good action to be had in the 4 to 10-foot depth range. Dragging tubes and twitching jerkbaits, John has been having 40 to 50 bass days targeting rocky flats, points and humps. In the next few weeks John predicts the smallmouth will be grouped up in areas 15-25 feet deep off steep drops adjacent to large flats with structure.

Roy Gangloff was back on southern Champlain over the Columbus Day weekend and fished the Larabees Point area. He was surprised to see the lake level up slightly and found clearer water in most areas, with water temperatures averaging 57°F to 60°F. For you bass and pike anglers, keep in mind that southern Champlain below the Crown Point Bridge is a different animal than the rest of the lake. It warms up first in the spring and cools down last in the fall. The turbid water and shallow weedflats makes it fish much differently, and bass, pike and pickerel action can go much later in the year than even smaller inland lakes.

Roy said he found the bass weren’t overly aggressive, but were willing to eat. Northern pike action was slow in the morning but they became very active later in the day, and chain pickerel were feeding heavy all day long around shallow thick weedbeds. Roy had success on all three species with a variety of presentations, but the best was topwater lures, swim jigs and chatterbaits. White was key for bass while the pike and pickerel tended to hit darker colors like black/blue. Roy found fish on just about every type of cover – inside weedlines, outside edges, open water and on rock shorelines.

With the nice foliage, good lake conditions and lack of fishing pressure the next few weeks could be the best of the year.

And Now For Something Completely Different …. (any Python fans out there?). Zach McNaughton of Proctorsville VT says that trolling for catfish will be at its peak in the next few weeks. Umm, what? Yep, you heard right. While most anglers think of catfish fishing as a hot weather summertime activity, cats put on a fall feeding binge like most other species, and you can catch them right now trolling or drifting cut bait down in the narrows of southern Champlain. Zach’s also the creator of a video series he calls Vermont Master Anglers, and he filmed an episode last year on this very tactic. Check it out here:

Connecticut River

While Roy Gangloff spends a lot of time on Lake Champlain, he actually lives on the Connecticut River side of the state and knows the river as well as anyone. One of Roy’s favorite fish to target in the fall on the CTR are walleye, and he says they too are beginning to feed hard for winter, as you can see by this nice chunky fish he caught the other night. Roy suggests focusing around the mouths of tributaries, culverts and dam tailraces. His go-to lures are stickbaits, rattle baits and swim baits, but nothing beats a jig head tipped with a live minnow. Fish the last hour of light and first hour of dark for the best action.

Northeast Kingdom (NEK)

Department fisheries biologist Pete Emerson who works in the St. Johnsbury office says there’s been a good number of anglers chasing salmon on the Clyde River, but low water levels haven’t really made for good runs. This rain is poised to change that, and Pete says this coming week should bring prime conditions. There’s also been a couple dozen lake trout and steelhead seen at the Clyde Fish Ladder. When the heavier runs start, the department will start moving fish upstream, and fishing opportunities for salmon above and below the Salem Lakes will improve dramatically.

Pete also says that anglers should check out Lake Memphremagog, as bass, pike and perch fishing has been really good lately. Finally, Pete’s been catching beautiful brook trout in the tributaries of the Passumpsic River with his boys. He’s using ice fishing rods and they are having a blast catching 8” to 10” brookies in small pools.

A couple weeks left, so get out there and catch some fall glory!

Streams & Rivers

Brandon VT angler Al Moorhouse is excited for all this rain we’re having. He says the small amount we got last week made a world of difference, and he was seeing good movement of brown trout in Otter Creek tributaries, and saw lots of signs of spawning activity. This weekend he tied into (but lost) a Vermont Master Angler sized brown trout, and landed a 15” female brown trout. While exploring some smaller brook trout streams, Al ran into another angler who was catching a lot of smaller trout on nymphs.

South Pomfret VT angler Ron Rhodes wrote in to say he had a good Columbus Day weekend on a small Rutland County trout stream catching brown trout on wooly buggers, while Lunenburg MA angler Steve Cummings visited Vermont and fished the Waits River with his sons last week and caught a number of bright rainbow trout. The trout are so pretty at this time of year.

Al echoed my earlier sentiment about the rain we’re having right now. It’s going to make river fishing really good, drawing them upstream to spawning areas. Al says waters levels in the smaller rivers tend to drop fast after a rain, so he recommends fishing them as soon as possible after rain events to find less spooky fish. Once the water is low and clear again, the fish can become quite skittish.

Inland Waters

The inland waters still seem to be fishing good as well, and I’ve received some great reports. Nate Olson from Barre VT says most of the lakes and ponds in Central VT have fallen below 60°F and he’s consistently catching good fish along steep drop offs and humps using jigs, crankbaits, dropshot rigs, and Texas-rigged soft plastics. Nate says if you find any remaining green weeds deeper than 10 feet, they tend to hold quality fish right now. You only have to check out this 6-lb 10-oz largemouth he caught this past weekend to know he’s giving you some good advice.

Captain Matt Trombley of Third Alarm Charters is still chasing fall bass and pike on Champlain from Vergennes to Shelburne as well as on lakes Dunmore, Bomoseen and Hortonia, and he says he’s not seeing a lot of people out there, which is a shame, because he’s catching great fish. Matt’s targeting weed edges in 10 to 15 feet of water around rocky points and humps, and has been catching some really nice smallmouth and northern pike. Matt says the water isn’t quite cold enough yet to really get the jerkbait bite going strong, but lipless crankbaits have been on fire for bass. Pike are liking white and chartreuse spinnerbaits and Keitech paddletail plastics on ½-oz swimbait heads. Move regularly and cover water, and you’ll find active fish.

For you careful readers and observant folk, you may have noticed an inconsistency between Roy’s advice for pike lures and Matt’s, so let me clear that up for you. Roy’s fishing on southern Champlain in stained, colored water (even though he said it was “clearer”, that’s a relative statement. Clear water on southern Champlain would still be considered dirty anywhere else). On the other hand, Matt’s fishing the main basin part of Champlain where the water is clear. Dark lures tend to work better in dingy water while clear water calls for something a lighter in color like white and chartreuse. Lesson of the day!

9 on “Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont Fishing Report – October 17, 2019

  1. Steve

    OH! Look who finally discovered that VT even exists! Of course, it happened at the expense of NH and ME. Drop two. Gain one!?

    If anyone is at all interested NH is doing well. Nutt pond in Manchester has plenty of bluegill, pumpkin seed, bass and perch that are feeding heavily. Worms, Dillies and Crawlers work best. They all fight like little freight trains on ultra light tackle.

    The Connecticut river is delivering small mouth and others if you fish below the dam in Bellows Falls.

    The Pemmigiwasit river in Bristol has given up some rainbow trout, small mouth bass as well as fall fish and other scrub species.
    Just below Ayers in Bristol there are trout and small mouth bass. An occasional salmon has been reported.

    Those are personal experiences by me in NH. Your mileage may vary.

    Sorry Maine! You’re on your own. LOL

  2. henry Belrose

    Where is the report for the rest of us in new England?? Dont we count. Are the Bay Pollock biting??? What gives.

  3. Steve

    Great! Just another repost. Do they actually PAY this guy? If so, I want his job! At least I would make an effort to put up SOMETHING every week and not just abandon everyone.

    Oh well. IF it is of value to anyone, the rivers in NH are really up there. Sorry Maine. I have nothing on you. However, I do have a little on some NH waters. Nutt Pond in Manchester still has some really nice pan fish that fight like bass! There are also bass there but the veracity with which those hand size, or larger, pan fish fight one doesn’t really know until they are close in. The only thing that worked for us was live bait. They would not touch anything else.

    As for the rivers proper, well, I didn’t get out there this week. I hope to get some time this week and will present my results next week. Even IF Mr. AWOL every does show up.

    By the way, anyone else is certainly welcome to chime in here. Tell these what you think of being abandoned and then tell everyone else about what’s happening out there. It may get to a point where we don’t need Mr. AWOL at all. LOL

    1. Kevin Starkey

      It’s lame enough that 3 states are lumped together. Add the fact that there’s no report for NH or ME and it makes me wonder if there’s not enough interest.

      Perhaps OTW needs a little help?

  4. Steve

    Once more we have a week with no news whatsoever! It must be nice to get paid to NOT show up and to NOT write about three states that have great fishing. How do I get such a cush gig? LOL

    I’ve not been out at all for various reasons. Now that the weather has soured I may not go out any more until spring. If I do it will be on a moment’s notice.

    With all of the rain that we have had plus the falling temperatures we should see some good activity with trout and salmon. My fall back spot is up by Ayers dam in Bristol. Followed by Profile Falls. Both have done well. If at all possible I will be hitting them both up this week. If I do go I will report my results, good or bad, here ASAP. If anyone else has something to share, please, do so. After all, we’re in this together.

    Oh. Mr. Starkey, I agree that lumping three states together is really lame. There are enough of us and enough news to make up three separate sections. Unfortunately, we can’t even get that lump covered well. Maybe this venue is not as good as they wish for us to believe. I know I’m disappointed. Anyone else wish to voice an opinion?

  5. henry Belrose

    I am still waiting to see if the bay pollock are still holding in Southern Maine bays?????? Its getting colder.

    1. Steve

      The weather has turned cold. Everything is beginning to ice over. I hate cold weather! I’m done for the year. I’m taking all of my tackle out of the car and putting it away until spring.

      See all of you then.

  6. Steve

    Once more, we have been abandoned. I know and you know that there is still plenty of fishing that does NOT involve salt water. I see no reason at all why the person who is responsible for this particular section of the fishing reports cannot show up and do his job. It must be nice to get paid to screw off indefinitely. Since that rodeo clown will not do his job I will do my best to offer what little information I have so that this is not a complete waste of our time and effort. If anyone else wants to help you will be most welcome to do so.

    Well. I thought that I was done fishing for now. Wrong! One nice day on Friday and I had to try to teach some dillies how to swim. I never met my objective because for some reason they all mutated into Yellow Perch! They were surprisingly strong considering that the water was very cold.

    My target was once more Nutt Pond in Manchester. It has easy access, plenty of parking and rest rooms are nearby.

    I did try the Smith river a few days earlier but, no luck. I suspect that the fish were down stream in the Pemmi and I did not feel up to the hike.

    I have heard that some have been pulling walleye and bass from the Connecticut but, I have not done so personally. I may give it shot during the next week. If I catch anything I will report back here.

    For what it is worth.


  7. Steve

    I am sorry to say that I have not been out fishing all week. Therefore, I have nothing to offer as far as personal experiences or news. Maybe next week. If anyone else has some kind of news then please, do enter it. I know that we would all like to hear anything at all.

    Happy holidays to everyone, too.

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