Winooski fish lift opens, increases angling opportunities
Posted on 04/06/2015
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Media Contact: Brian Chipman, Vermont Fish & Wildlife, 802-878-1564
Nick Staats, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 802-879-5679
                          

Winooski fish lift opens, increases angling opportunities

WINOOSKI, VT – The fish lift at the Winooski One hydroelectric facility on the Winooski River is now operating for the spring season, and that means expanded fishing opportunities for anglers.

Springtime operation of the fish lift on the Winooski River, which begins in March and extends through mid-May, is a collaborative initiative that focuses on moving steelhead rainbow trout above the Winooski Dam and into the next section of the river.

“Lifted steelhead are released into the 1.3 mile section of river above the Winooski Dam and below the next dam, also known as Gorge 18,” said Nick Staats, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In an effort to protect spawning walleye and endangered lake sturgeon, fishing is not allowed between March 16 and May 31 on the section of the Winooski River below the Winooski Dam downstream to the first railroad bridge. 

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Burlington Electric Department and Green Mountain Power, are operating the fish lift to assist steelhead with their natural spring migration and also to increase angling opportunities on the stretch of river above the Winooski Dam that is open to fishing. 

“Lifting steelhead above the Winooski Dam gives anglers the opportunity to fish for them in a section of the river that is legally open to angling,” said Brian Chipman, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “That being said, this is on a catch-and-release basis using artificial lures or flies only, until April 11 when Vermont’s traditional trout season opens up.  After that, anglers are allowed to fish with natural baits and keep up to six steelhead per day.”

Additionally, anglers also have the chance to catch any landlocked Atlantic salmon that may still be in the upper sections of the Winooski River as a result of last fall’s spawning run.

The Winooski River is stocked annually with 20,000, 7 to 8-inch steelhead, in addition to 30,000 yearling salmon.

“The Winooski River provides key habitat for a number of Lake Champlain fish species at various times during the year and we do our best to protect fish at sensitive times while also providing quality angling opportunities where we can,” said Staats. “It’s definitely a balancing act, but one that is important to the lake, its fisheries and to anglers.”

As a reminder, anglers can visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com/lawsdigest.cfm to access the 2015 Vermont Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws and Guide that includes maps showing lakes and streams as well as fishing access areas and public lands. 

The guide lists the fish species found in each body of water and includes the state’s fishing regulations.  Copies are available where fishing licenses are sold, or by calling the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department at 802-828-1000. 

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