Considered one of the finest and most challenging trout fisheries in the country, the 28-mile Vermont, spring-fed stretch starts in the Green Mountains near the East Dorset town of Bennington. From the border of New York, the river continues for another 31 miles in a southerly direction until it reaches Easton, NY and empties into the Hudson River. It is one of several rivers that form the 400+ mile Hudson River drainage basin. It’s also where the smart fish live.
When fishing the Vermont portion of this river, assume the trout have earned PhD’s in evasion techniques and are there to test your mettle. Before 1975, Vermont stocked the Battenkill (NY State still does) but now it’s gone native and all the trout are wild. Since this is a catch and release river, by the time a fish is two or three years old, it’s probably been caught more than once and when it comes to flies, the fish have seen them all. As one observer summed it up, there are lots of sizeable browns in the Battenkill but they didn’t get big by being dumb.
Near Manchester the river is scenic, narrow and characterized by soft bottoms, small pools and a few deep runs and rifles with mostly smaller brook and browns. The river widens as you approach Arlington, where the trout tend to lurk in slow moving pools. By the time you approach the state line the fish are typically 12 -16 inches long and more plentiful, but rarely easier to catch. This freestone river is a terrific choice for experts and for anglers ready to up their game.
Before booking your Battenkill trip there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The New York season is year round while Vermont is limited from April - October.
- There is good public access but sections of the river are private access only
- It’s catch and release