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Ice fishing festival still on at Lake Elmore despite warm weather

A landscape shot shows hundreds of people walking on a frozen lake, with a couple tents on the lake and forest covered hills in the background.
Joshua Morse
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
The state’s ice fishing festival, held since 2013, often gets crowds of over 500 people. Last year, it was held at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard. It was relocated this year due to poor ice conditions.

The state’s annual ice fishing festival was supposed to be held at Lake Bomoseen, in Rutland County. That was until a few weeks ago, when the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department decided to change the location to a place with more reliable ice — at Lake Elmore, a smaller lake, further north.

“Thankfully, we actually have really good ice conditions up there,” said Corey Hart, who works in education at Vermont Fish and Wildlife. “The last time we checked it, we had about 12 inches of consistent ice out in front of the state park.”

It’s been a weird season for ice fishing and sports like pond hockey, following poor ice conditions last winter.

“Most years by now, a lot of bodies of water would have a foot or so of ice. And that's just not not the case this year,” Hart said. “Some do — some do have plenty,” he added.

Four people stand outside in winter clothes, eating. A green sign says "fish tasting"
Joshua Morse
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Attendees taste fish at last year's event.

Lakes with adequate ice cover are mostly in parts of the Northeast Kingdom and in the Green Mountains, according to Hart. He said the biggest factors that determine ice cover from place to place are temperature, elevation, current and wind — a more sheltered body of water is going to freeze more easily than a place that’s exposed.

More from Vermont Edition: Due to lack of ice, Vermont anglers return to open water

If they can find a safe place to go, anglers anywhere in the state will be able to fish without a license this Saturday. And for people new to the sport, Hart recommends stopping by the festival, which starts at 11 a.m. on Jan. 27 at the state park just outside of Morrisville.

“They'll learn all about how to use a spud bar, how to check the ice conditions, different levels of thickness, things like that,” he said.

At the end, you can borrow a rod and try to catch a fish — probably a yellow perch. And you might even be able to eat your catch.

“We have a fish fry there as well,” Hart said. “If anybody catches a fish that's large enough to fry up, they can certainly bring it over to the fryer, and we'll fry it right up for ‘em.”

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Lexi Krupp:


Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.
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