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Vermont Fish Identification

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Salvelinus fontinalus

Coldwater species

Vermont’s only native stream-dwelling trout. Actually a char, they have worm-like marking against a greenish back, and their flanks are covered with light yellowish spots, with small bright red spots surrounded by blue halos along the lateral mid-section. They have squarish tails, hence the nickname “Squaretails.”


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Salmo trutta

Coldwater species

A true trout that were first brought to Vermont from their native Europe in 1892. They have a light brown overall color, especially in streams, with dark spots intermixed with reddish-orange spots along their flanks, with each spot surrounded by a light halo.


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Salvelinus namaycush

Coldwater species

A native to many of Vermont’s deep, cold lakes and like brook trout, are actually a char. They have a forked tail, white leading edges on their lower fins, and irregular light spots against a back-ground color that ranges from light olive green to gray.


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Landlocked Atlantic Salmon

Salmo salar

Coldwater species

Identical to sea-going Atlantic salmon. They have a forked tail, silvery flanks, and black spots on the upper half of their body. Unlike lake-dwelling brown trout, which they can closely resemble, salmon have no spots on their adipose and tail fins.

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Ameirus nebulosus

Warmwater species

The “horned pout” are the most common member of the catfish family in Vermont. They have smooth, olive-brown to dark-brown flanks with a sharp, stout spine on the leading edge of their dorsal and pectoral fins. They have a broad, flat mouth surrounded by six whisker-like barbels.


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Oncorhynchus mykiss

Coldwater species

A true native to the American West that were introduced in Vermont in the 1800s. Their tail and flanks are heavily spotted with small, well-defined black spots, and their flank usually has a pink or reddish stripe, for which they are named. Migratory lake-run rainbow trout are silverfish in color and are called steelhead.


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Osmerus mordax

Coldwater species

A small, slender schooling fish found in Vermont’s deeper and colder lakes. They have a strongly forked tail and iridescent silver flanks. They are a favorite forage fish of trout and salmon, and are popular with ice fishermen.


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Esox lucius

Coolwater species

A long, slender fish that has a large mouth, and dorsal and anal fins placed far to the rear. They have greenish gray flanks with several rows of irregular, yellowish-white bean shaped spots. Pike have scales only on the upper half of their gill covers and their tail, dorsal and anal fins have dark spots or blotches.


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Esox niger

Warmwater species

A member of the same family that includes northern pike. Unlike pike, pickerel have fully scaled gill covers, and their tail, dorsal and anal fins have no conspicuous spots or blotches. Their flanks are a light, golden green, with dark, chain-like markings.


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Lepomis gibbosus

Warmwater species

A small, brightly colored sunfish that is representative of a group of fish called “panfish,” which in Vermont includes bluegill, redbreast sunfish, rock bass and black crappie. Panfish rarely exceed 10 inches, but they are excellent eating, abundant and fun to catch for anglers of all ages.


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Micropterus dolomieui

Warmwater species

Closely related to largemouth bass, except they prefer cooler, clearer waters and when their mouth is closed their upper jaw extends only to just below their eye. Their flanks are golden green to brownish bronze, with 8 to 15 dark, thin vertical bars.


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Stizostedion vitreum

Coolwater species

The largest member of the perch family that includes yellow perch and sauger. They have a large, silvery eye, a milky belly and flanks that range from olive brown to golden-yellow. Walleye can be differentiated from sauger, which they closely resemble, by their first dorsal fin, which is dusky colored and spotless.


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Micropterus salmoides

Warmwater species

The largest member of the sunfish family in Vermont. They have a large, round mouth when open, and when their mouth is closed their upper jaw extends well past their eye. Their flanks are light green to golden-green, with a pronounced horizontal bar.


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Perca flavescens

Coolwater species

One of Vermont’s favorite food fishes and common to waters throughout the state. A schooling fish, yellow perch have golden-yellow flanks with 6 to 8 dark vertical bars. In the late winter and early spring, spawning males develop bright orange lower fins.



Look for the color pattern but particularly notice the scalation of the cheek and gill cover.


Atlantic salmon live in the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Your cooperation is
essential for their survival. Know the difference between trout and salmon. Young salmon (parr) resemble brown trout. Familiarize yourself with the difference. Most parr rarely exceed
6 inches in length. Violations of the law governing Atlantic salmon may result in a $500 fine.



Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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