Willoughby steelhead rainbow trout jumping

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ORLEANS — One of the state’s premier wildlife watching opportunities is currently taking place in Orleans.

The steelhead rainbow trout have started their upstream migration to leap up waterfalls in a spectacular display of determination on their way to their spawning grounds.

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Steelhead can be spotted moving up the falls during warmer days in mid-to-late April and sometimes into early May.

“Many people may not realize we have opportunities to watch fish in Vermont just like there are for birds and mammals,” said Pete Emerson, fisheries biologist for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

The section of the river in Orleans from the Orleans-Brownington Road Bridge to the top of the natural falls just upstream is closed to all fishing from April 9-May 31.

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“Witnessing these trout migrate is a powerful reminder of the importance of maintaining healthy and connected waters to allow fish to thrive,” Emerson said. “We’re working to conserve Vermont’s waterways and the surrounding habitats so that future generations can continue to witness this incredible migration each spring.”

While the annual migration occurs over several weeks, the best opportunities for seeing jumping fish only last for a few days when flows and water temperatures are just right.

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