Trout Unlimited Fishing & Recreation
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
The following article was written based on an interview with Clark Amidon
Fishing is another recreational activity, which is popular in Waterbury. Fisher people are frequently found along the banks of Crossett and Thatcher Brooks, the Winooski River, Little River, and the Little River Reservoir. Fishing by boat is also popular on the Reservoir. Fly fishing has increased in popularity with guides available to bring their clients to productive local spots.
The Reservoir is home to warm water species including small-mouth bass and perch with the best spot historically having been the north-end where the Little River drains into the Reservoir near the confluence with Cotton Brook. Since the 2019 landslide on Cotton Brook, which led to the deposition of an estimated 2.8 acres of sand, silt, and clay, it is reported that the fishing has declined in this area of the Reservoir due to impacted water quality.
Fishing in the Waterbury area has improved significantly over the past two decades, especially in the Little River due to changes in how GMP operates its flow releases for power production at the Reservoir dam. Historically, the utility made major flow changes quickly leading to unsafe downstream water conditions and scouring in the Little River. After several drownings including that of a fly-fisherman approximately fifteen years ago, as well as advances in the scientific understanding of river ecology and the associated impact on fish habitat, GMP was required to institute slow, gradual changes in flow discharges from the hydropower facility at the dam as part of its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing process. This has led to stable flow conditions for downstream users and improved conditions for supporting a strong coldwater fishery. The previous high flows had scoured out the bottom, removing organic material such as wood. This in turn limited the food supply for bottom organisms known as macroinvertebrates, which serve as a source of food for the fish. With the elimination of the high flows, stable bottom conditions exist allowing a healthy macroinvertebrate population to develop. Now wild rainbow trout are reproducing in the Little River. A stable and productive fishery exists, allowing routine fishing.
The Winooski River is stocked annually from the Rt. 2 Bridge on the south side of Town down to the confluence with the Little River with brown and rainbow trout in the size range of 17 to 18 inches by Vermont Fish & Wildlife. Summer and fall temperatures along most of this run of the Winooski are too high to support the trout. The fish will seek out coldwater springs and congregate where colder streams and rivers empty into the Winooski. Two examples are the confluence of Crossett Brook entering the Winooski near the Rt. 2 Bridge: and the location where the Little River empties into the Winooski, releasing a cold plume of water. Both spots are very popular with fisher people seeking trout.