Tag Archives: vermont

Knobby Tires and Bass

Post Mills Airport Circa 2008
Post Mills Airport Circa 2008

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Robert Frost ~ excerpt from, “The Road Less Traveled”

Me with my XT 600 circa 2008
Me with my XT 600 circa 2008

The inaugural summer trip I took up to Vermont was in August of 2008 with my good friend Brandon. I always used to go up to this scenic paradise for snowboarding and skiing but not for summer time fun. By 2008, I had largely wrapped up the most difficult part of graduate school and again had time to start Fly Fishing and begin Dual Sport Riding again. In my college years, we completed many dirt miles on the rural roads of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Vermont exists on a whole different level of riding because of their unique Class IV seasonal roads.

Brandon on the trail with both of our bikes circa 2008.
Brandon on the trail with both of our bikes circa 2008.

So much has changed since our first trip up to Vermont. New houses, new jobs, new bikes, new people, marriages and now babies! However, Post Mills, Lake Fairlee, the surrounding forests and hills, they are timeless. The airport, the lake, trails, the hills and mountains it is all there each time you make it back.

The motorcycle gang.
The motorcycle gang Summer 2015.

During this trip we rented out a cottage on the lake for ourselves instead of staying at the airport. This new development made access to fishing on the lake much improved. Fly Fishing for warm water and cool water species is quite excellent in Lake Fairlee. The lake features some prominent drop offs and extensive shallow weed beds, which lend themselves quite well for fly-fishing.

Brandon and Nicole on the TW 225.
Brandon and Nicole on the TW 225.

Fly Fishing For Bass

Brandon paddles up the Middle Brook.

Brandon paddles up the Middle Brook.

A lake is a vast expanse of water to read, comprehend and adequately explore for fish with a fly rod. However by working with the limitations of basic fly gear and Bass habitat you can reduce the size of the problem to a manageable puzzle. Fly gear will be most effective around structure in less than ten feet of water, near to the shore or weed beds.

Nice Smallmouth caught on the fly.
Nice Smallmouth caught on the fly.

Fly Fishing for bass is better in the early morning, late evenings or cloudy days. All of these factors contribute to bring Bass nearer to the surface and within reach of your fly tackle. If you fish near shore in the early mornings, late evenings or cloudy days, you should be able to rip a few ‘ole bucket mouths from the lake.

Fly Tackle For Lake Bass

I have fished with everything from 4WT to 8WT for Bass and other warm or cool water species. My favorite rod to use is my 7WT St. Croix Bank Robber, a rod designed to throw the heavier flies and streams that Bass like to eat. This rod equipped with weight forward Rio 7WT line and a Sage reel is a Bass lip ripper for sure. Alternatively, I have fished an 8WT Cabela’s salt-water rod and a 6WT Scott Radian, all function great, however, my preference if for the 7WT streamer rod.

St. Croix 7WT Bankrobber
St. Croix 7WT Bankrobber

Fish Tales

Every cottage needs a one of these for home defense.
Every cottage needs a one of these for home defense.

The ride up to Vermont on Friday afternoon and evening was a long and soggy one. After departing work at around 4PM, I loaded the GMC 2500 and started driving. The rain I hit around Troy, NY certainly slowed me down as I drove through the Green Mountains in the pitch black. I did not arrive at the lake house until around 11:30PM. I suspected that as these rainstorms cleared, it would yield postfrontal conditions and negatively impact Bass fishing in the morning, I was proven incorrect.

When this is your window, its easy to get up in the morning.
When this is your window, its easy to get up in the morning.

After staying up late imbibing as the rest of the team arrived, we all hit the sack in the wee morning hours. Fortunately, the beautiful sunrise over the lake awoke me from my slumber and once I paddled out across the placid waters my head cleared and I was focused on the watery depths. I allowed to canoe to blow into a cove and quickly tied on my Thin Mint fly and some tapered Bass Leader.

Rock Bass
Rock Bass

This was to be my best day for fishing, the sun rising, burning off the fog; fish after fish chasing my fly. Mornings like these are why men and women have traveled to Vermont to escape for hundreds of years. For the hour and a half I stole away to fish, I landed ten fish and missed countless more. Of these fish, one was my first pickerel on the fly! A little fourteen-inch predator that came tearing out of a weed bed and took some line off of my reel.

No shortage of Perch on Lake Fairlee.
No shortage of Perch on Lake Fairlee.

The fish in Lake Fairlee were in post spawn hunger mode with a few stragglers remaining on nests. These conditions paired with the low light of sunrise and sunset bode well for catching a variety of fish, especially Smallmouth Bass. We were able to get out on the canoe or the rowboat equipped with a 6HP outboard every day until Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Eurasian Milfoil removal team interrupted our Tuesday morning fishing. Eurasian Milfoil is a highly invasive plant to North America that finds its way into lakes through non-cleaned boating gear. It is common in publicly accessible lakes and must be removed mechanically or with special herbicide. Always make sure your boat is dry and free of weeds or other debris when moving from lake to lake.

The Yellow Brick Road

Dave motors down the trail.
Dave motors down the trail.

One morning in 1940 New England, the entire population of a town, 572 souls walked up a winding logging trail into the wilderness and was never seen again. Or so says the fictional account of the American gothic style horror movie, “The Yellow Brick Road.” Exploring class IV roads of Vermont, it is not difficult to see the inspiration for this movie and others of the genre. Scattered along the trails and abandoned roads you will find in Vermont’s highlands stone foundations and cemeteries nestled deep in reforested pastures. Many of these farms were abandoned during the civil war, the owners or children who never returned from their crusade to preserve the Union.

It is easy to lose track of where you are, always carry a paper atlas.
It is easy to lose track of where you are, always carry a paper atlas.

Over the years, dual sport riding in the Green Mountain State we have experienced varieties of gnarly conditions. Be it massive mud puddles, logging roads that terminate at seemingly insurmountable rock faces, beaver dams in the middle of trails or off the grid hermit cabins inhabited by residents that don’t take kindly to visitors. Being out here on the trail is surreal and disappearing into the dense forest seems remotely possible. In fact, I recall one time while riding east of Dartmouth, New Hampshire, Brandon and I took a turn onto what we thought would be a semi-improved road. Several hours later around dusk, we finally made it off of this over ten-mile logging trail. “Trail” is a generous term for the animal path we were riding on.

Contemplating how to cross the mud hole.
Contemplating how to cross the mud hole.

Bike Troubles Resolved

Skirting the side of a mud puddle.
Skirting the side of a mud puddle.

Up to this year’s trip, the last time I had my bike running proper was right after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. That trip was fun, however in regards to dual sport riding it was somewhat of a failure. The XT 600 was all re built in October of 2012 and that trip was the maiden voyage. That year, the cards were not in favor of the XT’s operation, the stator shit the bed within minutes of cranking the ole girl up. Running on battery alone we made it about 15 miles before the bike needed a pickup truck ride home.

Brandon and I taking a break on the trails.
Brandon and I taking a break on the trails.

Fast-forward to today, three years later, one stator, one voltage regulator and a starter solenoid for good measure and the XT 600 is purring like it is 1992. Twenty-three years have passed since my father purchased this bike brand new from Action Cycle in Metuchen, NJ. This trip was an endurance test of all of the repairs we have completed to get this bike up and running like new again.

Some of the creepier things we find out in the woods.
Some of the creepier things we find out in the woods.

All told, we completed 91 miles of trail and class IV road riding over the four days. We did an additional 21 miles of improved road riding. Now this may not seem like many miles, however, when a 30-mile trail ride takes you four or five hours, it is an incredible amount of riding. I believe this was an adequate test of the XT’s abilities for now. When I get home, I fully intend to take her out again to explore some local terrain.

Dave and the mud.
Dave and the mud.

Bald Top

How do I get out of this?
How do I get out of this?

Each and every time we get out on our favorite familiar trails we try and locate new challenges and roads not taken. Without fail you tend to locate a new area to explore or a trail to try or even a hidden lake or historical oddity. This time we found the ATV/ Snowmobile trail up to Bald Top Mountain.

About as far as I was able to go on Bald Top.
About as far as I was able to go on Bald Top.

The trail started with a deep-water crossing caused by a beaver’s engineering handiwork. The trail continued to slowly meander around the base of Bald Top, gaining altitude as it went. There was a large rock, standing out against the landscape, which we had to crest, intimidating at first, not so much when you arrived at the top. The real trouble lay ahead, as we started to ascend Bald Top, the trail developed into a rocky and muddy path.

After all the rain, you can always expect mud puddles.
After all the rain, you can always expect mud puddles.

Brandon made it about 25% of the way up the final ascent, I was not ready to begin the real ascent and held down at the base. After a little bit of walking around and evaluating the various options, we decided this was a puzzle better solved on our next trip.

New Additions

Admiring the forest.
Admiring the forest.

This Vermont adventure was unique in that it was the first trip we have taken with Brandon and Nicole’s new addition Wyatt! Also with us riding dual sport bikes was Dave and his wife Carly. Out there fishing and paddling with me was Bob who was also accompanied by his wife Steph and son Logan. This was one of the larger crowds since we attended the Vermonster back in 2011.

Bob with a Bucket Mouth.
Bob with a Bucket Mouth.

All in all it was an excellent trip and I cannot wait to go back again!

Happy couple Brandon and Nicole enjoying a break on Potato Hill Road.
Happy couple Brandon and Nicole enjoying a break on Potato Hill Road.
We've been riding buddies since high school.
We’ve been riding buddies since high school.

More Vermont…

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Jess and I got back over to Vermont for the Stowe Food & Wine Festival this past weekend.  We had an amazing time trying local cuisine, wine, and beers from the area.  The Stowe Valley is home to Stowe Ski Resort and Smugglers Notch.  There is also some solid trout fishing.

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The Lamoille River

I got up one morning to hit up a local river, the Lamoille, before the heat and humidity put the fish down.  The Lamoille meanders through the valley like a giant spring creek with long runs and not many pools.  I landed a dozen in about an hour.  A team of wet flies, a Picket Pinn and a Mini-Muddler, working down stream and a 16 high-vis Adams back upstream did trick.  All the fish were rainbows in the 10-14”.

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Size 14 Picket Pinn
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Size 10 Mini Muddler
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Size 14 Picket Pinn
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Size 16 Hi-Vis Parachute Adams

After that it was time for the festival hosted at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.  Great cooks and local brew masters provided amazing food and beverage the entire afternoon.  To wrap up the day, I took Jess back for an evening session on the Lamoille.   Since my 4wt is in the rod shop, we split time on my 6wt landing around another dozen between us; however, I didn’t mind one bit.  Jess doesn’t get out fishing with me too much, but she did an amazing job fixing her cast, working the flies, and landing half a dozen fish.  I think she will start coming out on the river more often now.  It was great to see her light up and yell that she had a fish on.  I find it more enjoyable to help someone catch a fish on the fly then catch one myself.

Audi brought their convertible for everyone to get a close look
The local Audi dealership brought their convertible for everyone to get a close look
Taco Wrap
Taco Wrap
Best dish of the festival:  Truffle Butter Gnocchi by Michael's on the Hill
Best dish of the festival: Truffle Butter Gnocchi by Michael’s on the Hill
Jess working the dangle on a team of wet flies
Jess working the dangle on a team of wet flies
Wet wading on the first day of summer
Wet wading on the first day of summer

The next day we hiked a remote mountain stream called Stevenson Brook.  It is a small tributary of the Waterbury Reservoir.  The stream is tucked away in the woods, and has many broken pockets and plunge pools.  There were small brookies behind almost every pocket.  The real surprise was the decent size rainbow that fought through several pools.  We finished the day off with trips to the Fiddlehead and Alchemist breweries on our way back to the Adirondacks.  Another great trip to Vermont.

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The former head brewery of Magic Hat started this brewery 6 months, ago.  Keep your eyes out for this stuff!
The former head brewer of Magic Hat started this brewery 6 months, ago. Keep your eyes out for this stuff!

Green Mountains Fly Fishing

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Jess and I got over to southern Vermont in the Green Mountain National Forest for the past two days.  We love the area and especially visiting the town of Manchester; the town has a lot of colonial history, quaint shops and restaurants, and beautiful scenery.  For the fly-fishing enthusiasts, there is a plethora of attractions.  The famous Battenkill River and its picky large browns are in the immediate vicinity.  The Orvis Company was founded and is still headquartered in Manchester; its flagship showroom is awesome as well as their trout pond with hordes of 30” rainbows.  The American Museum of Fly Fishing is located here too; it has some amazing exhibits.  This is truly great place to visit.

mt vt

I was really excited to fish the Battenkill; however, it has been raining for the past two weeks and the river is at flood stage flowing 4x its normal flow at 3600 cfs.  I decided to blue line some tributaries of the Battenkill, and it paid off.

river gauge

 

Nowhere to wade
Battenkill – too high for anything
Chocolate Soup
Battenkill – chocolate soup

The flow in the tributaries was still high but I found some nice wild trout in a remote setting among the pockets.  It was nice to be forced to fish these tributaries because I would have never done it if the Battenkill was at normal levels.  The fish were beautiful and small and colorful and wild.  I had an amazing time blue lining.  Some samples below.

cover bridge vt
Classic Vermont

trout vt

Fishable Water
Small Tributary – fishable water, brown from far pocket

brookie vt

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Small Tributary – slow oxbow
Small Tributary - still moving fast
Small Tributary – still moving fast

When it comes to rods, I am an Orvis guy.  The Helios rods are arguably the best on the market.

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American Museum of Fly Fishing
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American Museum of Fly Fishing
Wish I could wet a line here
Orvis Trout Pond – Wish I could wet a line here
orvis pool vt
Orvis Trout Pond

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