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Ice fishing off to hot start in 2008

WATERBURY Vermonts ice fishing action is off to a strong start after a spell of warm weather in early January. Recent cold weather and the states excellent fishing opportunities have made ice fishing attractive again. Vermonts premier fishing destination, Lake Champlain, offers many ice fishing opportunities. According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, ice anglers can find quality fishing for many species on this 120-mile long lake, including landlocked salmon, lake trout, northern pike, yellow perch, white perch, walleye, crappie, and smelt. Lake Champlain attracts twice as much fishing activity during the winter as during the summer, particularly in the northern third of the lake, said State Fisheries Biologist Brian Chipman. The plentiful yellow perch is the mainstay of the winter fishery, but many ice anglers also find good fishing for other species. Traditional northern pike hotspots include Lake Champlain's Kelley Bay, Missisquoi Bay, Dillenbeck Bay, Carry Bay, Keeler Bay, St. Albans Bay, the shallow flats south of the Sandbar Causeway between Milton and South Hero, and the area south of the Champlain Bridge from Addison to Benson. Later, as more ice forms, landlocked salmon and smelt will be caught in the Inland Sea north of the Sandbar Causeway. If cold weather provides good ice on the deep-water areas of the lake, lake trout will be found off the west shore of Grand Isle and in Outer Mallets Bay, Shelburne Bay, Converse Bay, and Button Bay south to the Champlain Bridge. Smelt can be caught in several of these areas, as well as at other sites between Thompsons Point and Button Bay. While walleyes can show up anywhere in Lake Champlain, the most consistent winter action can be found in the southern end of the lake off Benson and Orwell, as well as the northern end in Swanton and Alburg. Yellow perch and other panfish are being caught throughout Lake Champlain in the bays and shallows as well as on many other Vermont waters. Vermonts ice fishing season for trout, salmon and bass started January 19th and continues through March 9th on 40 other large Vermont lakes. For a list of those lakes, go to page 40 of the 2008 Vermont Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping, available where licenses are sold and at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. For more information, contact the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 05671-0501. Telephone 802-241-3700 or email: fwinformation@ state.vt.us. To locate places to stay and help on the latest fishing activity, go to the Vermont Outdoor Guides Association website (www.voga.org) and click on "ice fishing." For a list of Vermont approved bait dealers, go to http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/Fish_baitdealers.cfm, or contact Fish & Wildlife for a copy of the list.

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