I stayed up half the night tying and watching fishing clips to get me pumped. We were in the car Saturday morning before sunrise and on our way to make the 2 hour journey to the Northeast Kingdom. It had rained HARD the night before and we were worried the rivers would be blown out. But that rain in the Burlington area turned into snow up in the Northeast! We were in luck, and the rivers hadn't gone up much, but instead had great color to it. It was my first time up in the area - and it was b e a u t i f u l! Our first stop felt like NY. The fishing at a well-known hotspot below the Falls at the Willoughby River was shoulder-to-shoulder. We decided to not even grab the gear from the car. We stood on the bridge and watched for a while - nobody had hooked up. We jumped back in the car and headed upstream to fish the upper section that was open to fishing, hoping to find some steelies that had made an early Spring run up the Falls.
When we pulled off and got out of the car, not a single person was around for miles. It felt good to be alone, but I was also worried that they were not fishing higher up in the river for a reason. That worry soon disappeared. My second drift through the first pool yielded a great wild steelhead and just an awesome experience altogether on new water.
Just like with the Willoughby, right after arriving at the first hole I hooked up! A beautiful brown, a bit on the small size but still beautiful nonetheless. (I had to keep my phone in a baggie since I was standing in water and paranoid of dropping it)
A little while after releasing this brown, a nice chunky brown was making my reel scream....ah what a beautiful sound it is. A wild brown in the 18" range...awesome!
Not long after releasing this guy did I get another fish - about the same size as the first and very acrobatic.
We fished about half a mile of nice looking water but downed trees and logjams made it pretty tough. We left that spot after a few hours and we were on our way to fish an outlet of a small lake that was still frozen solid!
We arrived and I immediately noticed how beautifully clear the water was. I'm talking 8 feet of visibility easily. It was probably around 8 feet deep in this awesome spot he brought me, but it was just turbulent enough to where the fish could not see very far and luckily we were able to fish from behind the pool.
After Chris had got done telling me about how lakers drop down the outlet in the Spring, I was into a fish! What do you know? It turned out to be a laker! It's not too often you get to catch lakers in rivers!
After leaving the outlet of the Lake, he decided to bring me to Lake Willoughby to show me how beautiful it was. I was no disappointed at all - it was stunning, yet scenic. It was still frozen solid, but the little streams that flowed into the Willoughby were already starting to see good numbers of spawning wild steelhead as you can see in this underwater footage!
Of course the streams are closed to fishing - and for good reason...look at how many fish occupy this tiny pool!
After leaving the very scenic Lake Willoughby we had time for one last stop on our way home. This was Chris's, "hot spot" of the Spring and I was super excited. I had watched his videos and viewed his pictures of the rainbows that occupy the small creek-like tributary of a much bigger river and I was excited to see if they were in the creek yet! It's been a dream of mine to catch huge trout in streams where you can touch both sides with your hands at once.
Unfortunately, the snowfall and snowmelt had caught up to the tributary, and it was high and muddy. We opted to fish the mouth of the trib and it sure didn't take too long to hook up into this wild rainbow that made a few drag-screaming runs.
It was my first REAL trout season opener(previous years I wasn't really committed), and I am definitely looking forward to yearly Spring trips to the Northeast Kingdom from now on.