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Experience the thrill of Vermont’s steelhead rainbow trout migration in Orleans

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ORLEANS — The annual steelhead rainbow trout migration is underway in Vermont, providing a premier wildlife watching opportunity for residents and visitors alike.

Starting in mid-to-late April and sometimes extending into early May, steelhead can be seen making their way upstream to leap up waterfalls on their journey to their spawning grounds.

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“Many people may not realize we have opportunities to watch fish in Vermont just like there are for birds and mammals,” said Pete Emerson, a fisheries biologist for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Witnessing these trout migrate is a powerful reminder of the importance of maintaining healthy and connected waters to allow fish to thrive.”

The best opportunities for seeing the jumping fish only last for a few days when the flows and water temperatures are just right, according to Emerson.

While the annual migration occurs over several weeks, the fish are only visible for a short time.

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The steelhead migration also provides a prime fishing opportunity, attracting anglers from all over the Northeast for Vermont’s trout fishing season that opened April 8.

The section of the Willoughby River in Orleans from the downstream edge of the Orleans-Brownington Road Bridge to the top of the natural falls just upstream is closed to all fishing from April 8 to May 31.

“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,” said Emerson. “While the trout are only visible for a short time, their annual journey is a testament to the beauty and resilience of Vermont’s natural world.”

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