General Regulations & Definitions
Vermont Freshwater Fishing
“Take” and “Taking”: This means pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, disturbing, harrying, worrying, wounding, snaring, or netting fish, birds, or other animals. It includes placing, setting, drawing, or using any net or other device commonly used to take fish or wild animals, whether they result in taking or not. It includes every attempt to take and every act of assistance to another person in taking or attempting to take fish or wild animals.
Camping and Trespass: It is illegal to park, drive, or camp on another person’s land without permission of the landowner. You must immediately leave the property when the landowner requests it, whether the property is posted or not. Roadside or public highway turnouts are not legal for overnight camping.
Importation of Wildlife: It is illegal to bring live wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, or fish into Vermont without previously obtaining an importation permit from the Fish & Wildlife Department.
Interfering With Hunters, Anglers, and Trappers: It is illegal to intentionally interfere with someone who is lawfully taking fish or wild animals, or to disrupt the taking of any fish or wild animal by harassing or disturbing the fish or animal.
Interstate Highways: No one may legally travel on foot within the right-of-way or cross-boundary fences along interstate highways. Rest areas and pullouts are NOT access areas for hunting, fishing, or entering on adjacent lands unless posted as such.
Private Roads and Lands: Law prohibits obstructing private driveways, barways, or gateways with motor vehicles. People shall not drive over private lands or enter these lands for the purpose of camping without the permission of the landowner.
Season Dates: All season dates in this book are inclusive.
Violators: A person who drives, transports, scouts, counsels, or otherwise aids another person in a violation, or who knowingly possesses, consumes, or otherwise shares in the proceeds of such a violation by receiving or possessing fish or wild animals, or any parts thereof, shall be punished as a principal.
Damage to Fish & Wildlife Property: A person who damages or destroys a wildlife facsimile (decoy) owned by the Fish & Wildlife Department shall pay restitution for its replacement or repair. Whoever intentionally or recklessly damages, injures, interferes with, or destroys any property, real or personal, belonging to or controlled by the state for fish, game, or wildlife purposes shall be fined not more than $2,500 and pay restitution to repair or replace the damaged property.
Reimbursement for Illegally Taken Fish or Wildlife
In addition to any court penalties, anyone convicted of illegally taking, destroying, or possessing wild animals must pay, as restitution, into the fish and wildlife fund no more than the following amounts:
|Big Game $2,000.00|
|Endangered Threatened Species (T10, 5401) $2,000.00|
|Small Game $500.00|
Threatened and Endangered Species
Anyone who takes or injures a Vermont Threatened or Endangered Species is subject to either civil enforcement or criminal prosecution for a big game violation. Criminal penalties include up to 60 days incarceration, a $500 to $2,000 fine, a $2,000 payment to the fish and wildlife fund, and restitution costs. Agency civil enforcement penalties are capped at $42,500 for a single violation. The complete list of threatened and endangered species is available on the Fish & Wildlife website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The list includes lake sturgeon, channel darter, eastern sand darter, stonecat, timber rattlesnake, bald eagle, spruce grouse, beach heather, great laurel, Canada lynx, marten, little brown bat, and Indiana bat. Federal penalties also may apply.
Posted Property Under Fish & Wildlife Law
Hunting, fishing, or trapping on properly posted land is illegal without written permission. This includes land posted for hunting, fishing, or trapping by permission only. Properly posted land will have records filed with the town clerk and the Fish & Wildlife Department. See Title 10, V.S.A., Sections 5201 to 5206.
Whether the property is posted or not, a hunter or angler shall show their license if requested by the landowner.
It is illegal to damage or remove posters prohibiting hunting, fishing, or trapping.
A person must leave the land immediately on demand of the owner, whether the land is posted or not.
Posting and By Permission Only Signs
A landowner, or a person having the exclusive right to take fish or wild animals on land or the waters thereon may maintain signs stating that hunting, fishing, or trapping, or any combination of the three is prohibited or by permission only.
See 10 V.S.A. Appendix Sect. 14 for fish stocking requirements to post against fishing.
Permission Only signs shall state the owner’s name and a method by which to contact the owner or a person authorized to provide permission to hunt, fish, or trap on the property.
Posting and Permission Only Signs
- The owner or person posting the land shall annually record the posting at the town clerk’s office for a fee of $5.00.
- Signs must be not less than 8½ inches by 11 inches.
- Lettering and background on the signs must be of contrasting colors.
- Signs must be maintained at all times and dated each year.
- Signs must be erected on or near all boundaries, at each corner, and not over 400 feet apart.
- Signs shall not be considered void if other language is added, as long as a reasonable person would understand that hunting, fishing, or trapping are prohibited.
Safety Zone: A property owner may establish a 500-foot Safety Zone around an occupied dwelling, residence, barn, stable, or other building with signs provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department. These signs shall be placed at each corner of the Safety Zone and no more than 200 feet apart. Shooting is prohibited in the Safety Zone, and no wild animal may be taken within it without permission from the owner.
Sale or Purchase of Fish and Game
Sale and Purchase of Fish: A person shall not buy or sell a salmon, trout, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, black bass, or other fish specified by regulation, taken in this state, or imported from another state or country where sale of such fish is prohibited, except such fish reared in licensed propagation farms within the state. No person shall buy fish for resale without a Fish Buyer Permit issued by the commissioner.
Game Suppers: Game suppers may be held at any time by a church, volunteer fire department, fish and game club, or other nonprofit organization with a permit issued by a state game warden.
Wild animals and fish legally taken in this state, or another state or country, may be transported and sold as part of a game supper authorized by permit. Big game provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department may also be sold at such suppers. Migratory waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, and anadromous salmon may not be sold. Permits for game suppers must state the name of the organization holding the supper, as well as the date and location of the supper. A permit needs to be applied for at least 10 days before the date of the supper. Contact the Law Enforcement Division of the Fish & Wildlife Department for a permit application.
Transportation of Fish or Game
Transportation of fish or game is only permitted in the presence of the person who took that fish or game. A person shall not transport fish or game
- Taken by someone else unless the person who took the fish or game accompanies it;
- During closed season for that fish or game;
- If it exceeds the number or limit of fish or game that may legally be taken in a day.
However, a person traveling on land between a temporary abode, such as a hunting camp, and his or her home may transport in one day the number of fish or game that may legally be taken in two days.
While on the waters of the state, a person may not transport more than one day’s limit of fish unless the fish is frozen, processed, and packaged for storage.
Public Use of Fish & Wildlife Lands
Vermont Fish & Wildlife owns 92 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), two conservation camps, five fish culture stations, and other conservation lands totaling more than 135,000 acres throughout Vermont. A rule enacted in 2013 allows the department to better protect the public’s use of and interests in these lands. WMAs were created for the conservation of fish, wildlife, and their habitats, and to provide people with opportunities to enjoy these resources through fish- and wildlife-based outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping, and wildlife viewing and photography. Wildlife Management Area maps are available at www.vtfishandwildlife.com or at Vermont Fish & Wildlife District Offices.
Commercial activity means any activity or service that produces income for any person, group, business, or entity, including any activity or service by any nonprofit entity where a fee is required or requested.
Emergency situation means an unintended or unforeseen situation that poses a risk to health or life of a person or animal.
- Hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting at designated shooting ranges, and associated activities in accordance with all applicable Vermont Fish & Wildlife laws and regulations (where WMA maps are referred to below, go to www.vtfishandwildlife.com for more information);
- Fish and wildlife viewing and photography;
- Boating, including launching and landing, for fish- and wildlife-based activities where not otherwise prohibited by any other relevant regulations or statutes;
- Dispersed, wildlife-based pedestrian activities, including walking, snowshoeing, swimming, cross-country skiing, and collection of shed antlers;
- Noncommercial picking of berries, nuts, fungi, and other wild edibles except ginseng;
- Guiding for purposes of fishing, hunting, and trapping;
- Camping for purposes of hunting, fishing, or trapping:
- Nonprimitive camping with a portable shelter equipped with a self-contained, portable, sanitary toilet on sites designated by the department for this purpose, for no more than 16 days during the periods of May 1–31 and Sept. 1–Dec. 15; see WMA maps for designated campsite locations.
- Primitive camping (occupying a site in a natural environment with no developed facilities, leaving the site in its original condition so there is no or minimal evidence of human visitation) on the following WMAs for no more than three consecutive nights; campsites must be at least 200 feet from any waterbody, property line, or road. For a complete list of WMAs that allow primitive camping (and restrictions), see https://vtfishandwildlife.com/hunt/find-a-place-to-hunt/find-a-wildlife-management-area/authorized-and-prohibited-activities-on-fish-wildlife-lands.
- The operation of any ATV, UTV, or any wheeled or tracked motorized vehicle not registered for public highway use, except as provided under special permit from the commissioner to accommodate a person with a qualified disability pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act;
- Use of motorized vehicles, except on roads specifically designated for such use (see WMA maps);
- Snowmobiling, except as approved by the department and on designated corridors (see WMA maps);
- Horseback riding, dog sledding, nonmotorized cycle riding, or use of motorized vehicles, except on designated corridors (see WMA maps);
- Draft and pack animals, except for retrieval of legally harvested moose, deer, and black bear during the respective hunting season(s);
- Commercial activities, except for guiding for purposes of fishing, hunting, and trapping, or wildlife viewing;
- Artifact or fossil collection;
- Fires, except in emergency situations, or for nonprimitive and primitive camping as specified in this rule;
- Abandoning or disposing of any animal carcass, or their parts, except that portions of fish or game legally harvested on the property may be deposited on site during routine field processing for preservation and transport, or parts used in conjunction with legal trapping;
- Construction or placement of temporary or permanent structures, except for tree stands and ground blinds as specified for use on state Wildlife Management Areas under General Hunting Information, and duck blinds as specified under the Game Bird Hunting section of the Hunting/Trapping Guide;
- Collection of plants, trees, evergreen brush, or limbs, except wild edibles when allowed under of this rule;
- Use of any fireworks or pyrotechnic devices, except signal flares in an emergency situation;
- Feeding or baiting of wildlife, except if otherwise authorized by law;
- Taking of fish from a fish culture station, except during special events established by the department, including, but not limited to, fishing derbies, clinics, and educational events;
- Entering within 500 feet of any building or other associated infrastructure that is associated with a department fish culture station or conservation camp during times of the day other than those times posted for public use;
- Parking of vehicles, except while engaged in an authorized activity;
- All other activities not specifically authorized by this rule, or authorized in writing by the commissioner, including, but not limited to, para-sailing, hang gliding, recreational rock climbing, and geocaching.