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A Photo Tour of the Champlain Islands

I love creating great food and capturing nature and wildlife photos to unwind from a high-stress job.

Great Blue Heron Herons are a common sight in the islands. They are large birds which look awkward on the ground, but they are very agile and graceful in flight.

Great Blue Heron Herons are a common sight in the islands. They are large birds which look awkward on the ground, but they are very agile and graceful in flight.

The Champlain Islands

The Champlain Islands are a four-island chain, connected by bridges, and located in Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York State. Lake Champlain is the sixth largest lake in the United States. It extends over 100 miles from the south in Whitehall NY, to the north in Phillipsburg, Quebec. The lake is about 14 miles across at its greatest width, and up to 400 feet deep at its greatest depth (Wikipedia). The islands, from the south to the north, are South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, and Isle La Motte. There is also the Allburgh peninsula that extends from northern Vermont and Quebec.

The lake is reputedly home to Champ, a sometimes sighted North American cousin of the Loch Ness monster (Lake Champlain Region, n.a.). While the authenticity of Champ is uncertain, the lake is home to smallmouth bass, pickerel, lake trout, the landlocked salmon, gar, burbot, sheepshead, ling, yellow perch, crappies, bluegills, green sunfish, and rock bass (Lake Champlain Basin Program, n.a.).

The lake is also home to abundant wildlife, waterfowl and birds of prey, including beavers, muskrats, gray and red squirrels, chipmunks, leopard frogs, painted turtles, ducks, cormorants, Canada geese, great blue herons, great white egrets, snipes, kingfishers, ospreys, turkey vultures, kestrel and merlin falcons, and bald eagles.

Sandbar State Park

Sandbar state park is located in Colchester VT, off of Route 2. It is the last stop before a bridge that will take you into the southernmost Champlain island, which is South Hero.

It is a small park on the lake, with access to fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Ospreys, herons, egrets, turtles, frogs, songbirds, and the occasional water snake can be seen here.

the-champlain-islands

Grand Isle and South Hero

Grand isle is the location of a fish hatchery and a ferry landing for access to New York state. South Hero and Grand isle are connected by the last operating draw bridge in Vermont. The bridge in the images below was replaced in 2019.

South Hero is the southernmost island in the Champlain island chain. South Hero is continuous with Grand Isle to the north.

South Hero, VT

South Hero, VT

Grand Isle, VT

Grand Isle, VT

Grand Isle Ed Weed Fish Hatchery

The Ed Weed fish hatchery is located in Grand Isle, about one mile off Route 313. Route 313 loops off of Route 2, which is the main road through the islands. You can access the hatchery from Route 2 from the east or west.

The hatchery raises rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout to stock Vermont waters. The hatchery is open to the public for viewing.

Ed Weed Fish Hatchery Runways on Grand Isle

Ed Weed Fish Hatchery Runways on Grand Isle

Isle La Motte

Isle La Motte (Isle of Mud) is the landing site of French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, who led the first European expedition to see Lake Champlain in 1609 (Canadian Museum of History, n.a.).

the-champlain-islands
the-champlain-islands

Allburgh

Allburgh is a peninsula into Lake Champlain. It is the location of the Allburgh bridge which leads to the town of Rouse's Point in New York State.

Allburgh is the former location of Atlas ballistic missiles during the Cold War. The site is long decommissioned. The corrugated iron Quonset huts constructed in mass during WWII are also at the site and are still used by the town for storage.

Route 207 runs off of Route 2 and provides access to a Quebec border crossing about two miles north.

Wildlife on the Islands

There is an abundance of wildlife that can be seen throughout the islands. Common sights are whitetail deer, grey and red squirrels, chipmunks, osprey hawks, great blue herons, ducks, Canada geese, a multitude of songbirds including red wing blackbirds, leopard frogs, box turtles, and many dragonflies and damselflies. Rarer sights are water snakes, beavers, and muskrats. There are plenty of them, they are just secretive and harder to see.

Fishing on the Islands

Sunblock, insect repellent, and a camera are good items to make sure you have in order to keep your visit more enjoyable.

If you are fishing in the islands, from the shoreline or a boat, spinning gear with a six to eight pound line is a good choice. Jig heads with a chartreuse, yellow or white soft grub body all work well for small-mouthed bass, pickerel, walleye, rock bass and sunfish.

Fly fishing can be done from shore. A six to eight pound 5 foot leader and big, bushy chartreuse, yellow, and white marabou streamers, woolly buggers, woolly works are good choices.

Curly Tail Grub

Woolly bugger

Map of the Champlain Islands

References:

Canadian Museum of History. (n.a.). The Explorers:Samuel de Champlain 1604-1616. Canadian Museum of History. Available: https://www.historymuseum.ca/virtual-museum-of-new-france/the-explorers/samuel-de-champlain-1604-1616/

Lake Champlain Basin Program. (n.a.). Fish and Wildlife. Available: https://www.lcbp.org/our-goals/healthy-ecosystems/biodiversity/fish-and-wildlife/

Lake Champlain Region. (n.a). Champ, the Lake Champlain Monster. Available: https://www.lakechamplainregion.com/heritage/champ

Wikipedia contributors. (2022, May 2). Lake Champlain. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:37, May 28, 2022 https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Champlain&oldid=108582471

© 2022 David A Porter