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Trout season brings COVID-19 distraction

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The trout don't care about COVID-19, and Vermont's trout season is now open.

Opening day is the official kick-off to spring for many anglers, even if the weather makes layers a critical part of the fishing tackle.

While the weather is always a challenge to early season trout fishing, this year COVID-19 adds another level of challenge to the already challenging conditions.

Fortunately, fishing qualifies as permissible under the governor's rules.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department asks anglers to continue to practice social distancing when fishing.

In a press release, Fish & Wildlife said anglers should refrain from driving together to fishing spots and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people.

That means that unless you're fishing with people who live in your home with you, the limit is probably two people per boat. Anglers should be scattered along the shore when fishing from the bank.

Anglers are further advised to fish with their own rods and reels, and not share tackle, pliers or other gear. Follow all other health recommendations including hand-washing, using hand sanitizer, wear a mask and clean your gear well at the end of the day, the department advised.

Some anglers are pulling out their Buff, SunBandit or any of the dozens of other brands of facemasks and gaiters anglers wear to protect themselves from the elements.

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Anglers are also finding it difficult to buy gear locally right now.

At the Reel Angler in Manchester, husband and wife owners Wayne Hric and Dagmar Neubauer said they're doing what they can to outfit anglers and get them ready for the season.

Neubauer, in an email, said she is serving as a personal shopper for clients for curbside pickup.

"I have become a personal shopper for some who don't know specifically [what] they want," Neubauer said. " So I walk around the shop and make recommendations based on what and where they are fishing."

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She said once the gear is selected, a credit card will have it delivered outside for pickup. The shop also offers web orders for mailing.

"It has been working out pretty well," Neubauer said.

Buying a license is another challenge.

Bait shops and license dealers are not open, but anglers can get their license online at vtfishandwildlife.com.

Be sure to download the license to your phone and print it out to keep in your pocket or fishing vest. Having your license on your phone is legal, but you must have your phone with you, so don't leave it in the vehicle when you wet a line.

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Fortunately, trout aren't affected by the coronavirus but will still be hard to catch.

According to the Fish & Wildlife Department, trout will be sluggish in colder temperatures. Expect them to be deep and in slower water.

Try to fish lakes, ponds and streams at lower elevations and seek out warmer water that sees some sun.

Bait will generally work better than artificial lures, and presentations should be slow and deep.

Among Fish & Wildlife's suggestions for anglers:

- Larger bait can often be more effective for enticing early-season trout into biting.

- Spin-anglers should try nightcrawlers, egg imitations, or bright colored spoons and spinners.

- Fly anglers may find success in the early season by drifting large, more visible flies such as Woolly Buggers, streamers, or San Juan Worms along the bottom in slower pools and runs.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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