Vermont's picturesque landscapes, with its winding rivers, tranquil ponds, and pristine lakes, make it a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts seeking a slice of outdoor paradise. Whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting, Vermont offers an array of fly fishing locations that promise a satisfying catch and an unforgettable experience in nature.
In this guide, we'll dive into the top 20 places to fly fish in Vermont, detailing each location's unique features, fish species, and access points to help you plan your next angling adventure.
Best Fly Fishing Locations in Vermont
With its pristine waters and breathtaking landscapes, Vermont offers a diverse range of fly fishing locations that cater to anglers of all levels. Each of these top 20 spots promises a unique experience, whether you're seeking the thrill of reeling in wild trout or the tranquility of a quiet pond. Here's a closer look at some of the best fly fishing locations in Vermont:
1. Battenkill River
The Battenkill River, renowned as one of Vermont's finest trout streams, is a paradise for fly fishers. Flowing through the southwestern part of the state, it combines stunning surroundings with an abundant trout population. The Batten Kill, also known as the Battenkill River, is a river that spans 59.4 miles.
It originates in Vermont and flows into New York, eventually becoming a tributary of the Hudson River. It holds the distinction of being the longest tributary of the Hudson River on its eastern side. Anglers flock to the Battenkill for its abundant brown and rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for both beginners and experts alike. Fishing on the Battenkill promises an unforgettable experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Battenkill River, Vermont:
2. Black River
Nestled in the heart of the Green Mountains, the Black River provides an escape into nature's embrace. Flowing through Vermont for 40.8 miles, the Black River is a serene tributary of the Connecticut River. Its watershed, spanning approximately 202 square miles in southeastern Vermont, predominantly in Windsor County, boasts crystal-clear waters.
This idyllic setting provides an ideal habitat for brook and brown trout, making the Black River a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts. Whether you seek the thrill of the riffles or the tranquility of the calm pools, the Black River promises a gratifying fly fishing experience that is truly unparalleled.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Black River, Vermont:
3. Bourn Pond
Big Mud Pond, a serene 15-acre lake nestled at an elevation of approximately 700 meters, is a spring-fed oasis. With a depth of around 18 feet, it offers a tranquil retreat for those seeking a change of pace. In the Northeast Kingdom lies Bourn Pond, an enchanting hidden gem that promises tranquility.
While not as well-known as some rivers, this pond boasts largemouth and smallmouth bass, offering a different angling experience. Surrounded by the beauty of Vermont's wilderness, Bourn Pond invites you to enjoy the water's peace and the catch's thrill.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Bourn Pond, Vermont:
4. Clyde River
For the adventurous at heart, the Clyde River's remote location promises an escape from the hustle and bustle. This pristine river rewards those who venture to its banks with the chance to reel in wild brook trout. With its challenging access, the Clyde River is tailor-made for anglers seeking solitude and a true back-to-nature experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Clyde River, Vermont:
5. Deerfield River
Flowing from Massachusetts into Vermont, the Deerfield River showcases a mix of fast and slow waters, making it a versatile destination for anglers. Brown and rainbow trout inhabit its stretches, offering opportunities for various fly fishing techniques. The Deerfield River's diverse terrain ensures that every angler can find their ideal fishing spot.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Deerfield River, Vermont:
6. Dog River
The Dog River, located near Montpelier, Vermont, is a tributary to the Winooski River. It is renowned for its diverse wildlife and is considered one of the top trout streams in the state for fishing. Surrounded by Vermont's beautiful landscapes, the Dog River offers breathtaking scenery and a wide range of fish species.
Rainbow and brown trout populate its waters, making it a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts. Its proximity to Montpelier, the state capital, adds convenience, making the Dog River accessible to both locals and visitors.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Dog River, Vermont:
7. Harriman Reservoir
If you're looking to switch things up from traditional trout fishing, Harriman Reservoir offers a change of pace. Known for its bass fishing, this expansive body of water provides the opportunity to reel in largemouth and smallmouth bass. Harriman Reservoir covers an area of 2,039 acres (825 ha), with a maximum depth of 180 feet and a storage capacity of 117,300 acre-feet. Its vast size adds an exciting element of exploration to your fishing adventure.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Harriman Reservoir, Vermont:
8. Job’s Pond
Situated in the Champlain Valley, Job’s Pond offers a serene and family-friendly fishing experience. This tranquil pond is home to bass and panfish, making it an excellent choice for anglers of all ages. Whether you're teaching your child to cast for the first time or simply enjoying a peaceful day by the water, Job’s Pond has something for everyone.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Job’s Pond, Vermont:
9. Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, is an ideal fishing destination. On the Vermont side, you'll find several parks along the lake, including Milton's Sand Bar State Park. This park boasts a 2,000 ft (610 m) natural sand beach, perfect for fishing.
With access to both lake and river channels, you can fish for various species, including walleye, northern pike, bass, muskellunge, and other freshwater fish. Lake Champlain's diverse waters cater to anglers with different preferences and skill levels, from trout and salmon to bass and pike.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Lake Champlain, Vermont:
- Lefty's Deceiver - Size 2/0
- Clouser Minnow - Size 6-2/0s
- Double Bunny Black and Olive - Size 6
10. Lamoille River
The Lamoille River in northern Vermont is a prime example of the state's diverse fly fishing opportunities. Stretching about 85 miles, it drains into Lake Champlain and covers a drainage area of approximately 706 square miles. Flowing southwest and then northwest from the water divide of the Green Mountains, it showcases the natural beauty of the region.
Its stretches cater to different angling preferences, and it's known for its brown and rainbow trout population. From fast-moving runs to calm pools, the Lamoille River challenges and rewards anglers with its stunning surroundings and thriving fish populations.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Lamoille River, Vermont:
11. Mad River
Flowing through the heart of the Green Mountains, the Mad River is a prime destination for those seeking to catch wild brook trout. This river's rugged beauty enhances the allure of fly fishing in Vermont. Whether you're a seasoned angler or new to the sport, the Mad River's tranquil waters and stunning scenery create an unforgettable experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Mad River, Vermont:
12. Martins Pond
Martins Pond, spanning 82 acres, provides a peaceful retreat for anglers seeking a tranquil day on the water. You can access Martins Pond for fishing from Green Bay Loop, located at the southern end of the pond. With a range of fish species, including bass and panfish, it's an ideal spot for beginners honing their skills. Surrounded by nature's beauty, Martins Pond provides a peaceful setting to cast your line and unwind.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Martins Pond, Vermont:
13. Mettawee River
Originating in New York and flowing into Vermont, the Mettawee River is a haven for those seeking excellent brown and brook trout fishing. Its remote setting enhances the sense of adventure, inviting anglers to explore its unspoiled waters in pursuit of prized catches. The Mettawee River promises a genuine connection with nature and the thrill of fly fishing.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Mettawee River, Vermont:
14. Missisquoi River
The slow-moving waters of the Missisquoi River offer a tranquil haven for large brown and rainbow trout. This river's accessibility makes it a popular choice among anglers seeking convenience without compromising on the quality of the fishing experience. Whether you're casting from the banks or wading in the shallows, the Missisquoi River promises a peaceful day on the water.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Missisquoi River, Vermont:
15. Otter Creek
Otter Creek's diverse sections provide a range of fishing experiences to suit different preferences. From the challenging upper sections to the slower, meandering lower stretches, this river offers opportunities to target brown and rainbow trout. With its ever-changing landscapes, Otter Creek keeps anglers engaged and eager to explore each stretch.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Otter Creek, Vermont:
16. Unknown Pond
True to its name, Unknown Pond offers an air of mystery and seclusion that appeals to adventurers. This remote location rewards anglers with the opportunity to catch native brook trout in a pristine environment.
Accessible by heading out on the 2.3-mile out-and-back Unknown Pond trail near Island Pond, a moderately challenging route, Unknown Pond is an ideal destination for those looking to experience the thrill of Vermont fly fishing away from the crowds. If you're looking for solitude and an immersive fishing experience, Unknown Pond is a must-visit with its untouched beauty.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Unknown Pond, Vermont:
17. Walloomsac River
The Walloomsac River's riffles and pools create an inviting habitat for brown and rainbow trout. Situated near the town of Bennington, it's a convenient option for local anglers seeking quality fly fishing. The river's mix of fishing opportunities and scenic surroundings make it a popular choice for those looking to cast their lines close to home.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Walloomsac River, Vermont:
18. Waterbury Reservoir
For a different type of fly fishing experience, Waterbury Reservoir offers calm waters that harbor bass, northern pike, and panfish. This idyllic setting is perfect for a leisurely day on the water, whether you're fishing from a boat or the shoreline. Waterbury Reservoir's tranquility invites you to relax and enjoy the peaceful rhythm of angling.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Waterbury Reservoir, Vermont:
19. White River
The White River's breathtaking scenery sets the stage for an exceptional fly fishing outing. With brown and rainbow trout as your targets, you'll have the opportunity to cast your line against a backdrop of Vermont's natural beauty. Whether you're exploring its upper reaches or fishing its lower stretches, the White River promises an immersive and rewarding angling experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the White River, Vermont:
20. Winooski River
Running through the heart of Vermont, the Winooski River offers a mix of fishing opportunities that cater to both trout enthusiasts and those seeking warm water species. Its accessibility makes it a popular choice for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you're casting for trout or trying your luck with other species, the Winooski River invites you to enjoy its varied waters and the pleasures of fly fishing.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Winooski River, Vermont:
What Gear Do I Need to Fly Fish in Vermont?
When gearing up for a fly fishing expedition in Vermont, it's essential to have the right equipment. Here's a quick rundown of the gear you'll need:
- Fly Rod and Reel: To maximize your chances of success, invest in a versatile fly rod that suits the specific type of fishing you plan to undertake in Vermont's diverse waters. A 4-6 weight rod is suitable for smaller streams, while a 6-8 weight rod is more appropriate for larger rivers and lakes.
- Fly Line and Backing: Selecting the right fly line is crucial for effectively presenting your flies to the fish species you're targeting. Choose a weight-forward floating line for most scenarios, as it provides accuracy and versatility.
- Flies: Researching local insect hatches is essential for successful fly fishing in Vermont. Matching your flies to the insects that are prevalent during your visit will significantly improve your chances of enticing fish to bite.
- Waders and Wading Boots: Given Vermont's varying water temperatures throughout the year, appropriate waders are essential to stay comfortable and dry while fishing. In colder months, neoprene waders provide insulation, while lightweight, breathable waders are preferable during warmer seasons.
- Leaders and Tippets: Having a range of leaders and tippets is vital for adapting to different fishing conditions and fly sizes. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recommends using leaders between 7.5 to 9 feet in length, tapered to a 4x or 5x tippet for most trout fishing scenarios.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Vermont
What Is the Best Time of Year to Fly Fish in Vermont?
While Vermont offers fly fishing opportunities year-round, the prime seasons are spring and fall. Spring (April to early June) is a favored time due to the emergence of aquatic insects and the increased activity of hungry fish. Fall (September to October) is also exceptional, offering cooler temperatures, less crowded fishing spots, and the added bonus of the vibrant foliage that blankets the state.
Where Is the Best Trout Fishing in Vermont?
When it comes to trout fishing, focusing on rivers like the Battenkill, Black River, and White River can yield exceptional results. These rivers are known for their thriving trout populations and the stunning landscapes that accompany your angling experience.
What Are the Best Flies for Vermont?
The effectiveness of flies depends on the season and local insect activity. As mentioned earlier, the Vermont Fly Fishing School recommends carrying versatile patterns like Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, and Pheasant Tail Nymph. These patterns imitate a range of insects and are likely to attract the attention of hungry fish. However, to truly tailor your fly selection, a Drifthook fly starter kit will set you up for success!