100 Best: White River
Location: East central Vermont
Type of stream: Freestone
Angling methods: Fly, spin, bait
Species: Rainbows, brookies, browns
Season: Year—round from Bethel downstream
Supporting Services: White River Junction and along the river
Short take: Good Night Irene!
Handicapped Access: None
Closest TU Chapter: Greater Upper Valley
On Sunday, August 28, 2011, the remnants of Hurricane Irene dumped seven inches of rain on Vermont triggering the worst flooding since 1973, or as some say, 1927. Scores of rivers were blown out, among them the White. According to Ron Rhodes, vice president of the Greater Upper Valley chapter of TU, much of the river from Granville, near its headwaters, to its mouth at White River Junction on the Connecticut River was scoured. The chapter and members of the White River Partnership (WRP), have undertaken an extensive campaign to rehabilitate the river. Utilizing fallen timber, the log jam is specifically designed to both stabilize washed out bank and provide habitat for trout. This is the first such structure east of the Mississippi.
By the time this book is published, the river will have begun to heal. That charming section from Stockbridge to Granville where the pre-Irene river played tag with riffles and runs through forest and meadows with undercut banks will again offer worthwhile angling for rainbows and brook trout.
Below Stockbridge the White River begins to show its muscle like an adolescent. Runs and pools are deeper. Fish are bigger. And here you may encounter Atlantic salmon come up from the Connecticut to spawn. You’ll find even more anglers fishing the 3.3 mile trophy trout section from the mouth of Lilleville Brook down to Cleveland Brook. From Bethel to Sharon, the White becomes wider and deeper. The further downstream you fish, the greater the likelihood that that smashing strike on your # 8 woolly bugger wears the fan mask of a smallmouth.