WINOOSKI — The fish lift at the Winooski One hydroelectric facility on the Winooski River is now operating for the spring season, and that means expanded fishing opportunities for anglers.
“The Winooski One fish lift typically opens in mid-March and operates through mid-May, with the purpose of allowing steelhead rainbow trout to make their natural spring migration, along with helping to support quality fishing opportunities for anglers,” said Brian Chipman, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.
Steelhead that are collected by the lift are released into the 1.3-mile section of river above the Winooski Dam and below the next dam, also known as Gorge 18.
“Lifting steelhead above the Winooski Dam enables anglers to fish for them in a section of river that is legally open to angling,” said Nick Staats, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
While the section of river between the Winooski Dam and Gorge 18 is open to fishing, between March 16 and May 31 fishing is not allowed on the section of river below the Winooski Dam downstream to the first railroad bridge.
This section is closed to fishing in order to protect spawning walleye and endangered lake sturgeon.
“The Winooski River provides important habitat for a range of Lake Champlain fish species throughout the year, and we try to protect fish at sensitive times,” Staats said.
In addition to steelhead, anglers also have the chance to catch any landlocked Atlantic salmon that may still be in the upper sections of the river as a result of last fall’s spawning run.
The Winooski River is stocked annually with 20,000, 7 to 8-inch steelhead, in addition to 30,000 yearling salmon.