Fishing tourney to open season

Opening day of trout season in Vermont is right around the corner. This year’s spring has been coming on as early as anybody can remember, with near record-setting warm March temperatures and a sugaring season that was finished about the date that last year’s season was just starting.
With the second Saturday of April falling on the 14th — the latest it can possibly be — and almost no snow left to run off into the rivers, I am expecting one of the most successful opening weekends of trout season in recent memory. And also perhaps one of the driest and worst Vermont summers for trout streams in recent memory. But hopefully only the first of these predictions will prove true.
In any case, if last week’s 80-degree weather wasn’t enough to get you thinking about fishing instead of skiing, and if this week’s shocking plunge back down to 20 didn’t make you ready for winter to end, our local New Haven River Angler’s Association has plans for the first two weeks of April to welcome anglers into the new season.
The NHRAA just competed its annual banquet. As with last year, the event proved to be both a successful and an enjoyable event, thanks in large part to local support. Funds raised from the banquet go right back into the community, helping to sponsoring conservation and education events.
One big NHRAA conservation project this year is tree planting along the Muddy Branch to help prevent erosion. The Muddy Branch is a tributary of the New Haven River that drains a watershed from River Road in New Haven all the way south past Quarry Road in Middlebury, and east past Munger Street and Route 116. Its headwaters include Dow Pond.
Members and friends of the NHRAA will be meeting on Saturday, April 7, a week before the season opens, and spending a morning planting trees along the bank of the Muddy Branch. The project is being organized by the club’s Conservation Committee Chair, Stever Bartlett (also a ski coach at Middlebury College.) For more information, the club’s general e-mail address is [email protected].
Other community projects supported by the NHRAA through funds and labor will include its annual summer Youth Day and its Women in Waders program, along with work with the Town of Bristol on a handicap-access fishing ramp on the New Haven River.
The group is also working on a new partnership with Healing Waters, a program that takes war veterans fishing. I became familiar with the Healing Waters project on a fishing trip in Maine a couple years ago and was very moved and impressed by the vision and efforts behind it, and am excited to see the NHRAA get involved.
The weekend after the tree planting is the actual opening day of trout season, and not surprising is a big weekend for the NHRAA. Last year the Middlebury Mountaineer co-sponsored a showing of the Fly Fishing Film Tour, and it proved to be a big success in selling out the Marquis Theatre.
This year it will return to Middlebury and take place on Friday, April 13, at the Town Hall Theatre. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. with a product showcase of some wonderful new fly-fishing gear. The film will start at 7:30 p.m., and the footage of exotic destinations and species is sure to leave anglers dreaming of some incredible new fishing adventures. There will be door prizes and raffles.
Tickets are $15 at the Middlebury Mountaineer. More information about the film is available at http://flyfilmtour.com, and information about the Middlebury event and film showing can be found at http://mmvt.com/node/326.
Ultimately, though, the goal of the angler is to get out on the water fishing. And the Middlebury Mountaineer will also be sponsoring its fourth Annual Otter Creek Classic Opening Day Fly Fishing Tournament. As with last year, it is a catch-and-release tournament. Participants must bring their own digital cameras and submit photographic proof of their catches.
The event is divided into an amateur’s bracket and a guide’s bracket. The entry fee is a mere $35, and there will be $2,000 worth of prizes, plus a post-event barbecue and awards ceremony. Profits from the event will benefit the NHRAA and its conservation and outreach efforts. There is a mandatory pre-event meeting on Friday night (before the Fly Fishing Film Tour.) Information on the tournament can be found at: http://mmvt.com/node/338.
Even those who don’t usually bother to go out on opening day or have never been in a fishing tournament might not find a better year to try either for a long time.

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