A six-year plan for restoring and managing wild trout populations in the Batten Kill was adopted and released on January 16, 2007. Rebuilding the river’s trout fishery following a significant long- term trend of declining brown trout abundance since the mid 1990s emphasizes habitat restoration and sport fishing by catch-and-release angling only on the lower river, i.e. New York-Vermont state line upstream to the base of Dufresne Pond dam in Manchester. Additionally, management focus is on restoring wild trout populations without stocking hatchery produced fish. The entire text of the Batten Kill Trout Management Plan can be viewed and printed at http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
The Batten Kill has been a renowned trout fishery since as far back as the latter half of the 19th century and offers anglers opportunities to catch native brook trout and naturalized brown trout. Generally, catchable-size (6 inches and larger) brown trout outnumber brook trout 3 to 1 in the main stem. But, even so, the Kill’s wild brown trout are a challenge to catch and can foil even the most accomplished fly fisher.
After several years of gathering scientific data on the river, biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department prepared the plan and distributed it for public review and comment. Public input overwhelmingly supported plan actions for habitat restoration and opposed resumption of trout stocking at this time. Stocking trout into the river ended over 35 years ago.
“Beginning in the late 1990s the Department along with its partners (U. S. Forest Service, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Vermont, and others) conducted 15 studies to investigate likely causes of the decline of wild brown trout abundance in the river,” said Department fisheries biologist Ken Cox. “Results from these investigations seem to point to habitat deficiencies that have been in the making for many years and more recently pushed the population to a critical tipping point.”
Even though studies show that the river’s water quality and temperature regimes are suitable for trout survival and production, inadequate refuge habitat and other physical changes in the river appear to have reduced the Kill’s capacity to maintain the quantities of wild trout that the river once supported.
During the summer of 2007 state and federal fishery biologists with support of the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, other conservation groups, and private landowners launched efforts to restore trout refuge habitat (cover) in an experimental section of the river. This included a five year (2005-2010) study of trout population response to increasing the amount of cover in the river. Study results demonstrate that there was nearly a five-fold increase in yearling trout abundance following cover enhancement and seems to provide support for the hypothesis that trout abundance in the Kill is being influenced by inadequate cover habitat present in the river which in turn is reducing the survival of your trout through their first year of life. Alternately, if cover is not the primary limiting factor, study results indicate the enhancement of cover availability can be compensatory. The full text of the final report can be viewed and printed at http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
“While in-stream habitat improvements appear to greatly benefit trout populations, a more holistic view of causes leading to inadequate cover and problem correction must be taken,” says Cox. “More specifically, the current condition of natural processes that normally would maintain in-stream cover is not occurring. Hence, efforts are needed to direct attention to reforesting stream banks, reducing habitat loss resulting from river processes out of equilibrium, and increasing the public’s, especially those having direct influence on the river and its riparian lands, of the importance their role in river corridor stewardship. In order to be successful, this effort must be long-term and involve the combined energies and resources of stakeholders and interest groups.”
Batten Kill Voluntary Fishing Diary Introduction
First, thank you for your interest in participating in the Batten Kill voluntary angler diary study.
The goal of the project is to obtain current information on the recreational aspect of the Kill's trout fishery.
Such studies, generally referred to as creel surveys, have been conducted in past years but involved a more
systematic approach to collecting the information through direct interviews with anglers while they were engaged
in fishing on the river.
Limited staff and funds prevent us from repeating that format,
therefore we are asking volunteer anglers to keep records of their fishing trips and provide this information to
the department via an on-line web link. The information you provide, in addition to the trout population surveys
the department annually conducts on the river, will allow us to assess the current quality of the Kill's fishery,
evaluate trends, and help guide future management of this important resource.
As a cooperator in this study you have the opportunity to make an important contribution to our understanding of the fishery.
We acknowledge that maintaining complete and accurate records of fishing trips on the river and its tributaries can be a time burden.
We have therefore developed a survey design intended to be as simple and least time consuming as possible for you to use.
Cooperators have been issued a diary booklet to record trip information during their fishing outings. If by chance you were not issued a booklet, diary forms can be downloaded from this website.
The department has also setup
an on-line site to go to and transfer the information you record in the booklet.
We cannot over emphasize the importance of entering information completely and accurately on every fishing trip you undertake on the
Kill into the booklet and later on-line. This includes information for trips that you do and do not catch fish.
At the end of the fishing season you will be contacted and provided with a means of returning the diaries to us at no cost to you.
This is done for quality assurance/quality control purposes prior to subjecting the data to analysis.
If you wish, we will return the booklets to you once they have been reviewed.
All cooperators will be provided with a copy of the final report after it is completed.
Please review the following instructions to understand what information you are being asked to collect and how to report in the
diary booklet in advance of the upcoming fishing season. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me via
email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (802) 885-8828.
Batten Kill Voluntary Fishing Diary Instructions
Each cooperator is encouraged to fill out fishing trip information in the diary booklet previously provided as often as possible throughout the course of the fishing day to avoid having to rely on memory possibly leading to incomplete or inaccurate entries. Preferably take a couple minutes to make entries as soon as you come off the water or before moving to a different fishing zone or switching to another fishing method (e.g., a change from fly fishing to spin casting). If by chance you were not issued a booklet, diary forms can be downloaded from this website.
It is important to record trip information even if you do not catch any trout. Be sure to check off no fish were caught
If when fishing a specific zone you take a break of a half hour or more, such as for lunch, record the information before the break as if it were a separate event from that after the break. One event per booklet page, please.
If one or more anglers fish with you, such as friends or clients of a fishing guide, include all their information with your own only if they fished the same times, fishing zones and used similar methods (e.g., all fly fished). On the other hand if they fished differently, then their information should be recorded as separate events. Fishing guides: If you are assisting a client(s) but not actually fishing yourself, then you should not record yourself as an angler.
The Batten Kill main stem is separated into six zones by which you are to report fishing trip information. These are described below as well as on the map. Please do not combine zones when reporting trip information.
and submit the information later on-line at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website
Three principal tributaries (Green River, Roaring Branch, West Branch) are also of interest to this study. If you fish any tributaries other than these three, assign fishing information to the "other" option.
Batten Kill A: New York-Vermont state line upstream to mouth of Green River.
Batten Kill B: Mouth of Green River upstream to mouth of Benedict Hollow Brook.
Batten Kill C: Mouth of Benedict Hollow Brook upstream to Route 313 Bridge.
Batten Kill D: Route 313 Bridge upstream to base of Dufresne Pond Dam in Manchester.
Batten Kill E: Hill Farm stretch in Sunderland from Arlington-Sunderland town line upstream to Hill Farm Bridge. Batten Kill E is included within Batten Kill D but should be reported separately
Batten Kill F: Upstream of Dufresne Pond Dam but not including the pond itself.
Recording Fish Lengths: It is not necessary to take precise length measurements of each fish you catch. A best visual estimate is quite acceptable. Length is measured from tip of snout to tip of tail. Excessive and unnecessary handling of trout may cause them stress or injury possibly leading to post-release mortality.
Check the condition of the adipose fin (see figure below; the small fleshy tab on the fish’s back between the dorsal and tail fins). This fin is sometimes removed by fishery managers to distinguish fish for various purposes. New York marks trout stocked into the Batten Kill downstream of the state line by removing the adipose fin and helps to identify stocked fish from wild ones.
Vermont fishing regulations allow anglers to use up to two lines (rods) at one time. While this is obviously impractical for fly fishers and spin casters, it is sometimes practiced by still (bait) anglers
We encourage you to transfer information from your diary booklet to the on-line data site as soon as practical following trip completion
Your name is being requested only to link your on-line data entries with diary entries for quality assurance purposes.
In order for the information you submit to be used in our data analysis it is critical for the information to be recorded completely and accurately. This includes fishing event start and end times.
On May 17, 2011 Vermont Public Television aired Outdoor Journal’s Restoring the Batten Kill. Host, Lawrence Pyne, looks at efforts to restore southern Vermont’s Batten Kill river to its traditional glory as a prized trout stream. Produced in September 2011 partners in fish habitat restoration on the river are interviewed.