If you plan to do any fishing in North Bennington on the Walloomsac Rover, near the Henry Bridge, bring a net.
Friday morning I went there with Chris Bates, host of WBTN's "Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped," and Justin Gardner, owner of Bradene Furniture. Bates had been after me for a while to go on one of his fishing excursions and sadly I waited until now to take him up on the offer.
In May I reported that the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife had stocked that section of river with "trophy" trout, fish north of 14 inches in length. According to Fisheries Biologist Chet MacKenzie, 750 rainbow and 250 brown trout had been put there.
The area around the bridge is a popular spot for anglers, and according to the department not the greatest fish habitat, which is why the stocking program exists. If you drive by the Henry Bridge, located where Ore Bed Road and Murphy Road meet, you can see a little pull-off area next to a field, and usually someone is fishing or swimming there.
I grew up fishing in the North East Kingdom. There was a small stream near my parents house that spoiled me somewhat in that I could always expect to pull fish out of it. They were small brook trout, but with a light enough line they felt much larger when they hit the hook.
Catching them was not so hard. Stick a worm on a small hook and dunk it in a pool and if there was a fish in there it would bite.
When I came to Bennington in 2008, I had no idea where the good fishing spots were. I had this same problem when it came to deer hunting, which I wrote about last fall, and the trick of course is to find someone who knows what they're doing.
It was suggested to me that I put a sinker about 18 inches up my line so I could cast into deeper waters. We then made our way upstream. Bates and Gardner fish there a lot and knew where the good spots were, and it was not long before Gardner had hooked a rainbow trout easily 14 inches long.
He and Bates fish that river quite a bit and are just as interested in filming fish getting reeled in as they are catching them, perhaps more so. For me, worrying about video was an added dimension. Trout do not care much for movie stardom, and keeping them in the water but still on the hook long enough for someone to grab the camera and record can be a tough production.
I managed to catch a nine-inch rainbow trout. There wasn't much to it. It was the next fish that the three of us would not be able to stop talking about.
Gardner and I were casting into a pool behind a log while Bates was downstream casting at some rocks.
After a good many casts were wondering if we shouldn't move on when Gardner got a bite. Being the nice fellow he is he passed the rod to me while he went for the camera. It was then that this fish realized it was big enough to do what it wanted, and swam for a tangle of roots and branches.
There was nothing I could do. It was pulling line off the reel and despite my attempt to keep it out of the sticks it managed to get the line caught. Usually this is where a fish snaps the line, but for some reason it held even though it was tangled.
I held the rod and the camera while Gardner went after this fish. At that point he got quite excited.
I never got a good look at this fish, but Gardner says it was a brown trout approaching two feet in length.
Having felt it on the line, I can believe it. It was hanging out in the sticks upside down, and as soon as Gardner laid a finger on it, it shook and snapped the line.
One thing I've noticed about hunting and fishing is it's almost as fun to lose as it is to win. It also never hurts to bring a net.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.