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Fly Fishing Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Fly Fishing Near Island Pond, Vermont




If you are looking for a relaxing and rewarding way to enjoy the natural beauty of northern Vermont, you just may want to give fly fishing a try.  Fly fishing is a method of fishing that uses a specialized rod, reel, line, and artificial flies to catch fish. Unlike conventional fishing, fly fishing requires the angler to cast the fly, which is usually very light and does not have much weight, by using the weight of the line. This allows the fly to land gently on the water surface and imitate the movements of natural insects or other prey that fish feed on. You can fly fish in various types of water, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. However, some of the best places to fly fish are in cold, clear, and fast-flowing waters, where trout and other game fish thrive. Fortunately, northern Vermont has plenty of such waters, and many of them are within 40 miles of Island Pond, a small town in Essex County that is known for its scenic lake and outdoor recreation opportunities.


In this blog, I will share with you some of the best fly fishing spots near Island Pond, Vermont, and some tips on how to make the most of your fishing adventures.


Best Fly Fishing Spots Near Island Pond, Vermont




There are many places to fly fish near Island Pond, Vermont, but here are some of the most popular and productive ones:

  • Averill Lake:  Quimby Country is the Jewel of Averill and one of the true treats of the Northeast Kingdom,  existing on two lakes full of trout,  Great Averill and Forest Lake, are both exciting and varied fisheries.  Featuring Lake Trout, Rainbows and some elusive trophy Browns.  Quimby’s is Vermont’s longest running sportsman’s camp.  It’s traditions both new and old demonstrate the vibrancy and beauty of the kingdom in the most relaxed and gracious environment imaginable,  the Inn’s owner’s, Gene and Lilly Devlin, are the kindest and most imaginative of hosts, and your stay will certainly be one to remember.

  • Lake Willoughby: Lake Willoughby is a stunning glacial lake that is about 15 miles south of Island Pond. It is one of the deepest and coldest lakes in Vermont, and it is home to a variety of fish species, including lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth bass. The lake has several public access points, such as the WilloughVale Inn & Cottages, where you can also rent boats and kayaks. The best time to fly fish on Lake Willoughby is in the spring, summer and fall, when the water temperature is optimal for trout and salmon. You can use streamers, nymphs, or dry flies to attract these fish, depending on the conditions and the depth of the water.

  • Nulhegan River: The Nulhegan River is a tributary of the Connecticut River that flows through the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. It is about 20 miles east of Island Pond, and it offers some of the best wild brook trout fishing in Vermont. The river is mostly shallow and narrow, with riffles, pools, and bends that create ideal habitats for trout. The river is accessible from several points along Route 105, and it is open to catch-and-release fishing only. The best time to fly fish on the Nulhegan River is in the summer, when the water level is stable and the insect hatches are abundant. You can use dry flies, nymphs, or wet flies to match the hatch and entice the trout.

  • Clyde River: The Clyde River, that flows through the towns of Island Pond, Newport, Derby, and Charleston. It is about 25 miles long and it is known for its excellent salmon and trout fishing. The river has several dams and impoundments that create different sections of water, each with its own characteristics and challenges. The river has several public access points, where you can also camp and picnic. The best time to fly fish on the Clyde River is in the spring and fall, when the salmon and trout migrate upstream and downstream, respectively. You can use streamers, nymphs, or dry flies to catch these fish, depending on the water flow and the weather.

  • Connecticut River:  The Connecticut River is one of the most diverse and productive fisheries in Vermont, offering anglers the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species, from cold-water trout and salmon to warm-water bass and walleye. The river flows through the northeastern corner of the state, forming the border with New Hampshire and has several access points and boat ramps along its course. The river is divided into three sections by dams: the Upper Connecticut, the Lower Connecticut, and the Fifteen Mile Falls.

  • The Upper Connecticut is the section of the river from the Canadian border to the Moore Dam in Waterford. This section is known for its excellent trout and salmon fishing, especially in the spring and fall, when these fish migrate up and down the river. The river is mostly shallow and swift, with riffles, runs, and pools that create ideal habitats for trout. The river is stocked with rainbow, brown, and brook trout, as well as landlocked Atlantic salmon. The river also has some wild trout populations, especially in the tributaries, such as the Nulhegan and the Passumpsic rivers and Paul Stream near Maidstone State Park. The best flies to use in this section are streamers, nymphs, and dry flies that match the hatch, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

  • The Lower Connecticut is the section of the river from the Moore Dam to the Vernon Dam in Brattleboro. This section is known for its excellent walleye and smallmouth bass fishing, especially in the summer and fall, when these fish are active and feeding. The river is deeper and slower, with sand, gravel, and rock bottom areas that provide cover and structure for fish. The river also has some pike, catfish, carp, and striped bass, as well as some trout and salmon in the cooler months. 

  • The Fifteen Mile Falls is the section of the river from the Comerford Dam in Monroe to the Moore Dam in Waterford. This section is known for its scenic beauty and challenging fishing, as the river drops over 400 feet in elevation over 15 miles, creating rapids, waterfalls, and deep pools. This section is not accessible by boat, and requires hiking and wading to fish. The river has some of the best wild brook trout fishing in the state, as well as some rainbow, brown, and landlocked salmon. The best flies to use in this section are dry flies, nymphs, and wet flies that match the hatch, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

  • The Connecticut River is a great destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, as it offers a variety of fish, water, and scenery to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a relaxing day on the water, or a challenging adventure, you can find it on the Connecticut River. Just make sure you have a valid fishing license, as it is the border of Vermont and New Hampshire out of state residents are required to fish under a NH license.  Wildlife.nh.gov for licenses follow the fishing regulations, and respect the fish and the environment. 

  • Passumpsic River: The Passumpsic River is a tributary of the Connecticut River that flows through the towns of Lyndon, St. Johnsbury, and Barnet in northeastern Vermont. The river offers some of the best trout fishing in the state, as well as some bass and pike fishing in the lower sections. The river has several public access points, such as the Passumpsic River Fishing Access Area or the Passumpsic River Park, where you can also enjoy hiking, biking, and picnicking.

  • The Passumpsic River is divided into two sections by the Arnold Falls Dam in St. Johnsbury: the upper section and the lower section. The upper section is the section of the river from the headwaters in Lyndon to the dam. This section is known for its excellent wild brook trout fishing, as well as some stocked rainbow and brown trout. The river is mostly shallow and fast, with riffles, runs, and pools that create ideal habitats for trout. The river is open to catch-and-release fishing only, and artificial flies and lures are required. The best time to fly fish on the upper section is in the spring and summer, when the water level is stable, and the insect hatches are abundant. You can use dry flies, nymphs, or wet flies to match the hatch and entice the trout, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

  • The lower section is the section of the river from the dam to the confluence with the Connecticut River in Barnet. This section is known for its diverse fishing opportunities, as it has a mix of cold-water and warm-water fish species, such as trout, salmon, bass, pike, walleye, and catfish. The river is deeper and slower, with sand, gravel, and rock bottom areas that provide cover and structure for fish. The river is open to general fishing regulations, and any bait or lure is allowed. The best time to fly fish on the lower section is in the fall and winter, when the water temperature is cooler, and the fish are more active. You can use streamers, nymphs, or dry flies to catch these fish, depending on the water flow and the weather.

  • The Passumpsic River is a great destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, as it offers a variety of fish, water, and scenery to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a relaxing day on the water, or a challenging adventure, you can find it on the Passumpsic River. 

  • Lamoille River: The Lamoille River is a beautiful and diverse river that flows across northern Vermont, from its source in Greensboro to its mouth at Lake Champlain. The river offers excellent fly fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels and preferences, as it has a variety of fish species, water types, and scenery to enjoy. The river has several public access points and boat ramps along its course, as well as some fly shops and guides that can provide you with the necessary equipment, instruction, and advice.

  • The Lamoille River is divided into three sections by dams: the upper section, the middle section, and the lower section. Each section has its own characteristics and challenges and requires different techniques and flies to fish effectively.

  • The upper section is the section of the river from its headwaters in Greensboro to the Peterson Dam in Johnson. This section is known for its wild and stocked brook, brown, and rainbow trout, as well as some landlocked salmon. The river is mostly shallow and fast, with riffles, runs, and pools that create ideal habitats for trout. The river is open to catch-and-release fishing only, and artificial flies and lures are required. The best time to fly fish on the upper section is in the spring and summer, when the water level is stable and the insect hatches are abundant. You can use dry flies, nymphs, or wet flies to match the hatch and entice the trout, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

  • The middle section is the section of the river from the Peterson Dam to the Fairfax Dam in Fairfax. This section is known for its mixed fishing opportunities, as it has both cold-water and warm-water fish species, such as trout, salmon, bass, pike, walleye, and catfish. The river is deeper and slower, with sand, gravel, and rock bottom areas that provide cover and structure for fish. The river is open to general fishing regulations, and any bait or lure is allowed. The best time to fly fish on the middle section is in the fall and winter, when the water temperature is cooler and the fish are more active. You can use streamers, nymphs, or dry flies to catch these fish, depending on the water flow and the weather.

  • The lower section is the section of the river from the Fairfax Dam to the confluence with Lake Champlain in Milton. This section is known for its scenic beauty and challenging fishing, as the river drops over 300 feet in elevation over 25 miles, creating rapids, waterfalls, and deep pools. This section is not accessible by boat and requires hiking and wading to fish. The river has some of the best wild brook trout fishing in the state, as well as some rainbow, brown, and landlocked salmon. The best flies to use in this section are dry flies, nymphs, and wet flies that match the hatch, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

Tips for Fly Fishing Near Island Pond, Vermont



Fly fishing near Island Pond, Vermont, can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, but it can also be challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the area or the techniques. Here are some tips to help you have a successful and enjoyable fly fishing experience:


  • Get a fishing license: Before you go fly fishing near Island Pond, Vermont, you need to get a fishing license from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. You can buy a license online, by phone, or at authorized agents. The license fees vary depending on your age, residency, and duration. You also need to follow the fishing regulations, such as the seasons, limits, and methods, for each water body that you fish.

  • Check with a Local Guide:  Gibbs Guideswww.TourVTNH.com is a fly-fishing guide and outdoor experience company. Vermont’s premier outdoor adventure concierge.  Setting up and outfitting multi-day camping and fishing and camping and canoeing adventures, photography tours, drift and wade trips, as well as learn-to-fish and fly-casting lessons.  Based out of Island Pond, Vt and guiding on 38 miles of local streams and rivers.

  • Choose the Right Gear and Flies: When you go fly fishing near Island Pond, Vermont, you need to choose the right gear and flies for the water that you fish on and the fish that you target. You need a fly rod, a fly reel, a fly line, a leader, a tippet, and a selection of flies. The size and weight of these items depend on the size and strength of the fish, the depth and speed of the water, and the type and size of the flies. Generally, you want a rod that is 8 to 10 feet long, a reel that matches the rod, a line that matches the rod and the reel, a leader that is 7 to 9 feet long, a tippet that is 2 to 4 feet long, and flies that are 10 to 18 in size. You can find more specific advice on gear and flies at local fly shops.  Stop in and talk to Ted at Lead & Tackle in Lyndonville, Vermont, his local knowledge and tremendous gear and fly selection will serve your needs and he can point you in the right direction.

  • Join a Club:  You can join the newly formed David & Francis Smith Northeast Kingdom Chapter of Trout Unlimited to get involved in current conservation projects and coldwater fisheries information.  Monthly meetings and resources are available.

  • Do It in a Raft:  Hit the rivers and streams of Northern Vermont in a Watermaster Raft.  Gibbs Guides offers both outfitted adventures in the 2-fisherman and a guide, Watermaster Bruin, and one-man versions as well.  You can choose overnight outfitted camping adventures, individual day drift trips, wading trips on major blue ribbon trophy trout rivers or blue line wild fish adventures.

  • Telling Fish Stories: Stop in post-fishing at the Northeast Kingdom’s Dirt Church, and confess your fish stories over an Elbows Out or another version of a special, small batch Vermont brew.  The ambiance and creative re-imagining of East Haven’s “center of town” is an excellent spot to enjoy an evening of great food and drink.  Right on the northern-most portion of the Passumpsic and also on the Kingdom Trails mountain bike system.

Conclusion

Fly fishing near Island Pond, Vermont, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and catch some beautiful fish. Whether you are looking for a lake, a river, or a pond, you can find a fly fishing spot that suits your preferences and skills. You just need to get a fishing license, check the fishing reports and forecasts, choose the right gear and flies, and maybe hire a guide or join a club. Then, you can head out to the water and have a blast. Happy fishing! 🎣


Fall foliage as far as the eye can see at Forest Lake in Averill, Vermont.
Fall at Forest Lake



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