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Fishing the Battenkill - Vermont Road Trip

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

There's truly no better way to spend a Sunday, than by taking a drive to the gorgeous State of Vermont in search of catching a Brown Trout on a fly. With just a short, picturesque drive from the capital region, we have the opportunity to fish the world famous Battenkill River, known for having some of the best summertime trout fishing around. The Battenkill is unlike many rivers, in that its waters stay relatively cool all summer long due to springs, which provide trout with ample conditions to survive year-round. Conditions were optimal on Sunday with a moderate flow and fair water temperature, so I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity. So I purchased a Vermont State fishing license day pass from their Vermont State Website and set off to try and land a brown trout.

Even on a slow day of fishing, the drive alone to Vermont is worth the trip, as you go through expansive farmland and pass by sublime mountains. Having fished the Battenkill prior, I decided to first venture to a “lower section” of the Battenkill that flows through the town of Arlington, VT. Most spots where you are allowed to fish on the river have pull off areas with signs that explain various things from the preservation of trout habitat to special fishing regulations. Every area I fished had a sign that said there were special fishing regulations, which were that all trout caught were to be released immediately. In simplest terms, from the Vermont State line to Manchester, VT the Battenkill is a catch and release only river, meaning you cannot keep the fish.

At the first spot I stopped, there were stretches that were somewhat deeper and slower, as well as multiple riffle and pool sections. I usually first stop at the deeper pools to see if there are any hatches that are driving fish to the surface to feed. I could see some “Tricos” or small mayflies on the surface, but did not find any feeding trout. Usually fish are sitting in deeper pools this time of year, so it was an easy decision to fish a subsurface fly. Flies like the “Copper John'' are a good choice in summer because they sink deeper and imitate Mayfly Nymphs.

As I began working through different pools along the river I began to receive “takes”, where a trout had tried eating my fly, but I just could not connect with one. It seemed that dead drifting my fly with little to no movement was what the fish wanted. I also quickly downsized from a size 12 fly all the way to a size 18 to see if that made a difference. In fly terms, the larger the number fly, the smaller the size. The size 18 “Copper John” fly I was using is about half the length of your pinky nail to put it into some perspective. Before long, the fly change had paid off and I had landed three gorgeous brown trout. They were all around 10” long, which isn't huge, but the coloration on these fish was incredible. I chose to not even hold them, but rather to keep them in the water in my net and grab a few quick pictures.

There’s just something about being on the Battenkill River that completely relaxes you and makes you focus purely on nature. To catch these finicky trout you really have to learn the many different aspects and factors of the river and when you catch them, it's extremely gratifying as you have figured out exactly what they want.

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