Bass Fishing in Vermont

Fishing Regulations Vermont Freshwater Fishing

By Chris Adams
Information Specialist, Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Well known among local anglers for decades, Vermont’s bass fishing has been the subject of increasing national and international attention in recent years, and many say the fishing has never been better.

World Fishing Network, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), FLW Outdoors, In-Fishermen, On The Water, BassFan.com, and a range of other fishing media outlets have all praised Vermont’s bass fishing opportunities of late. Even mainstream media outlet USA Today mentioned Vermont waters when it announced its list of “America’s best bass fishing lakes and ponds” in 2017.

While renowned Lake Champlain — shared by Vermont and New York — often garners much of this attention, many of Vermont’s smaller, lesser-known waters are beginning to build great popularity as well.

Unsung gems — including such lakes as Memphremagog, Dunmore, Bomoseen, St. Catherine, Seymour, and Iroquois; ponds such as Shelburne, Monkton, and Sadawga; the Connecticut River; and Waterbury and Chittenden reservoirs — offer some of the best small-water bass fishing opportunities in the Northeast and they are all easily fishable from shore or a small boat such as a canoe or kayak.

In totality, the number of hidden, untapped small ponds and lakes dotted across Vermont’s diverse landscape, holding thriving populations of quality bass is truly remarkable. Whether you want to target largemouth or smallmouth bass, or both, Vermont has a bass fishing opportunity that aligns with the interests of almost any angler. Not to mention, you may just find a honey hole and have it all to yourself!

To add to the great bass fishing opportunities, Vermont offers a spring catch and release season that runs until the second Saturday in June when the state’s traditional bass fishing season begins. Early season catch and release bass fishing in Vermont can offer some of the hottest fishing action of the year, with 50 to 60 fish days commonly reported, and some of the biggest bass annually being caught during the spring months.

If you haven’t specifically targeted bass before, don’t let it intimidate you. Just like other predatory fish species, bass can be found using noticeable structure for cover to hide around while ambushing prey.

Try targeting largemouth bass around visible, shallow cover such as boat docks, fallen trees, logs,

and brush piles, rock piles or boulders extending out from shore, bridge pilings, rock ledges, and aquatic vegetation, among other types of habitat.

Smallmouth bass will often use similar shallow cover during the spring and fall, but many will migrate toward deeper structure as water temperatures rise in the summer. Try fishing for summer smallmouth around offshore rock piles or reefs, steep shoreline

ledges, long, tapering, hard-bottom points, and any area that is subject to current or wave activity. “Smallies” are aggressive feeders and, like many predatory fish, will be found wherever there is abundant forage.

A few great choices for catching both largemouth and smallmouth during the open-water season include artificial baits such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits, floating topwater lures, soft plastics, and jig-style baits. All of these baits are designed to imitate key bass forage, including panfish, small minnows, crayfish, frogs, and insects. Additionally, a worm, crayfish, or minnow rigged on a traditional hook, sinker, and bobber rig is time-tested, extremely productive, and hard to beat!

Whether you’re new to bass fishing or an avid bass enthusiast, whether you’re looking for big-water or small-water opportunities, Vermont is undoubtedly a bass fishing paradise with something for everyone. Take it from a bass fishing fanatic, there’s no place I’d rather chase bass than right here in the Green Mountain State!

In totality, the number of hidden, untapped small ponds and lakes dotted
across Vermont’s diverse landscape holding thriving populations of quality bass
is truly remarkable.