Vermont’s celebrated catch-and-release bass fishing season is underway with some of the hottest bass fishing action in the Green Mountain State happening right now.
“The spring catch-and-release season is a really special time to be on the water in Vermont, and the fishing can be truly spectacular,” said avid bass angler Chris Adams, information specialist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Combine warming weather, minimal boat traffic and feeding largemouth and smallmouth bass, and spring bass fishing is hard to beat.”
Vermont’s catch-and-release bass season runs primarily from the second Saturday in April to the Friday before the second Saturday in June, when Vermont’s traditional bass season opens.
However, catch-and-release, open-water bass fishing is also permitted year-round on waters that are not listed by the department as seasonally closed. A full listing of waters and applicable regulations can be found in the 2017 Vermont Fishing Guide & Regulations Digest, or by using the new online fishing regulations tool found at vtfishandwildlife.com.
Adams said Vermont’s spring catch-and-release bass season is well-known throughout New England and the Northeast, and is recognized not only for producing numbers of fish, but also for kicking out some of the biggest bass of the year.
“From ice-out right through early June, the catch-and-release bass fishing in Vermont is incredible,” said Adams. “After nearly two decades as a bass enthusiast, I had one of my best days ever for giant Vermont smallmouth
bass just last week, despite water temperatures still being in the upper 30-degree range. It’s hard to overemphasize how much fun spring bass fishing can be. Folks should definitely give it a try.”
During the catch-and-release season, all bass must be immediately released after being caught and only artificial lures may be used. The use of live bait is prohibited.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife has assembled a few basic tips for anglers heading out to fish for bass during the spring catch-and-release season.
Let water temperatures dictate your tactics and lure choices. Often fishing slowly on the bottom with jig-style baits can be most effective shortly after ice-out. As water temperatures begin to rise into the 45- to 60-degree range and fish feeding activity increases, moving baits such as spinners, crankbaits and stickbaits can be big producers.
Look for rocky shorelines and marshy back bays. Shallow, gradual rocky shorelines consisting of ledge, chunk rock, gravel or boulders will hold heat and warm up first, attracting baitfish and ultimately feeding smallmouth and largemouth bass. Marshy, weedy bays will also warm up quickly and will attract numbers of largemouth bass in various stages of their springtime movements.
Pay attention to the clues. If you catch a fish, get a bite, or see a fish follow your lure, take another pass through the same area. Many fish will often stack up on the same structure during the spring as they transition from winter to spring and summer haunts.
Photo courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife
Tom Jones holds a smallmouth bass caught last season.