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General Requirements, Definitions & Prohibitions

Fishing Regulations Vermont Freshwater Fishing

Fishing Licenses

Anyone fishing, in possession of, or transporting fish taken in Vermont waters or the Vermont/New Hampshire waters of the Connecticut River must be properly licensed and must carry the license on his/her person. The license must be shown on demand of a state game warden or other enforcement officer, or at the request of the owner of the land on which he/she is fishing.

See Table 10  for specific Connecticut River fishing license requirements.

See Lake Champlain Regulations for reciprocal license information.

Shooting by Bow and Arrow or Spear Gun or Spearing

A person is required to hold a hunting or combination license to take fish by hand-held spear, spear gun, or shooting. A person is required to hold a fishing or combination license to take fish by bow or crossbow.

A person who takes a fish by hand-held spear, spear gun, bow or crossbow with line attached to arrow, in accordance with 10 V.S.A. App § 122, shall keep
the fish in his or her possession until the fish is permanently removed from waters of the state and used or disposed of properly.

Hand-Held Spear: A manually powered spear used from above the water’s surface.

Spear Gun: A pneumatic or rubber band–powered device, with a line not to exceed 20 feet attached to a spear, used from below the water’s surface. Spear guns shall be loaded and discharged only beneath the surface of the water and shall be used while snorkeling/free diving only. Spearing while scuba diving is not permitted.

Fishing Methods

Angler

Any person engaged in the take or attempted take of fish, by any method.

Open-Water Fishing

Fishing by means of hook and line in hand or attached to a rod or other device in open water, or fishing by casting or trolling baited hooks, artificial flies, or lures is considered open-water fishing. A person may take fish only by using not more than two lines of which he or she has immediate control. Each line may not have more than two baited hooks or three artificial flies or two lures with or without bait.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is fishing by means of hook and line in hand or attached to a rod, tip-up, jack, or bob, where the angler is fishing through a hole in the ice, from the ice, or on an object supported by the ice. Fishing by casting or trolling baited hooks, artificial flies, or lures shall not be considered ice fishing. A person may take fish only by using not more than eight lines, except on Lake Champlain where no more than fifteen lines may be used. He or she must have immediate control over all lines. Each line may not have more than two baited hooks or three artificial flies or two lures with or without bait. Six lines are allowed on the Connecticut River.

Catch and Release

Catch and release is open-water fishing as explained elsewhere, except that fish must be released immediately where caught.

Fishing Tools

Baited Hook: A single shank hook with one, two, or three points that may be baited with natural or artificial bait or both.

Downrigger: A device used to deliver fishing lines to a desired depth, and when so used, not considered a fishing line.

Fly: A single pointed hook, dressed with feathers, hair, thread, tinsel, or any similar material wound on or about the hook to which no hooks, spinners, spoons, or similar devices have been added.

Lure: A man-made device designed to catch only one fish at a time, to include a spoon, plug, spinner, bait harness, tandem-hook streamer, or lead head jig.

Planer Board: A device used to deliver fishing lines to a desired location, and when so used, not considered a fishing line.

Seasons and Hours

It is illegal to take fish of a species unless the season for that species is open on those waters.

It is illegal to fish when no season is open in those waters, or if those waters are posted as closed by regulations of the Fish & Wildlife commissioner or board.

The legal fishing day is the 24-hour period beginning at 12:00 midnight and continuing until the next 12:00 midnight. During the open season, fish may be taken at any hour of the legal fishing day, except where a shorter legal fishing day is specified in the General Fishing Regulations and Exceptions, or where posted otherwise.

Free Fishing Days

Vermont has two Free Fishing Days during which anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish without a license. Vermont’s summer free fishing day occurs each year on the second Saturday in June. Vermont’s winter free fishing day occurs each year on the last Saturday in January. All legal fishing methods and limits still apply.

Limits

The daily limit refers to the number of fish legal to keep during the legal fishing day.

The possession limit is the number of fish caught on more than one legal fishing day that an angler or ice fisherman may have in his/her possession; equal to double the daily limit.

Cull Fish

Carp, tench, rudd, shad (alewife and gizzard shad), and goldfish are considered to be “cull fish.” Additional invasive/exotic fish species may be designated by the commissioner as “cull fish.”

Immediate Control

Open-Water Fishing

A person fishing by open-water fishing must have immediate control over his or her lines. Immediate control refers to such constant control as would enable an angler to respond without delay to a fish taking his or her bait, lure, or fly.

Ice Fishing

A person ice fishing shall, at all times, have immediate control over all lines they operate. A person ice fishing shall be able to visually observe lines they operate. Any line that indicates a fish shall be tended within 30 minutes.

Fish Length Restrictions and Filleting Fish

Fish with a length restriction may be filleted or consumed on the water so long as the head, vertebrae, and tail are retained intact to enable determination of fish length. The length of a fish is considered the longest straight line and flat distance from the tip of the fish’s snout to the tip of the longer lobe of its tail when the two lobes are forced together.

Foul Hooking

Foul hooking (PROHIBITED) is hooking a fish in any other part of the body than the mouth with a hook or hooks, or manipulating hooks to hook a fish in a body part other than the mouth. A person fishing by open-water fishing or ice fishing shall not take any fish unless it is hooked in the mouth. Any fish not hooked in the mouth shall be immediately released without unnecessary injury.

Snagging

Taking or attempting to take fish by snagging is prohibited in all Vermont waters. Snagging shall mean the intentional hooking of a fish in a place other than the inside of the fish’s mouth. No person shall pull, jerk, or otherwise purposefully and/or repeatedly manipulate a hook, or hooks and line, to snag or hook a fish in any method other than to entice a fish into taking, by mouth, a hook, lure, or fly. Repeated and/or exaggerated jerking or pulling of the fishing line and/or hooks in any attempt to snag fish, whether it results
in physically snagging a fish or not, shall be prima-facie evidence that snagging has taken place. This shall not apply to the use of a gaff to land a fish that has been legally hooked.

Baitfish Use and Restrictions

Commercially Purchased Baitfish

Anglers may not import baitfish into the State of Vermont without a Fish Importation Permit except:

  • A person may purchase baitfish from a New York baitshop for use in the Lake Champlain black-list water (as outlined below) or a New Hampshire baitshop for use in the Connecticut River black-list water, provided the baitshop is Vermont-licensed, and the baitfish are accompanied by a Vermont-issued baitfish transportation receipt. Baitfish purchased in New York or New Hampshire for use on Lake Champlain or the Connecticut River must also adhere to the list of approved species in Vermont. For a description of the Lake Champlain and Connecticut River black-list waters please see the Black-list Waters section below.

A person purchasing commercial baitfish must retain and show upon request a transportation receipt issued by a state-approved commercial bait dealer, authorizing transportation of baitfish overland by motorized vehicle. The receipt must contain the following information: 1) A unique receipt identification number, 2) Name/telephone number of the bait dealer, 3) date/time of sale, 4) species purchased, 5) quantity purchased, 6) baitfish zone or black-list water (limited to one) in which the baitfish will be used, and 7) the signature of purchaser.

A transportation receipt is valid for 10 days from the time and date of sale only for the baitfish zone or black-list water recorded on the receipt. For descriptions of black-list waters and baitfish zones please see the Baitfish Zones and Black-list Waters Map and the Black-list Waters and Baitfish Zones sections below.

Baitfish may be held beyond the 10-day period on the water in a pen or baitbox 25 cubic feet or less in volume. The baitbox must be marked with name, address, and telephone number of the owner and user.

A person may transport unused commercially purchased baitfish away from a waterbody and use it within 10 days in the same baitfish zone or black-list water as indicated on the transportation receipt:

Zoned baitfish receipt (East Zone/
West Zone)

  • May be used on multiple non-black-list waters in the same zone.
  • May be used on a black-list water in that specific zone, but once used on that water it cannot be taken off the water.
  • May not be used in a different baitfish zone other than what’s indicated on the receipt.

Black-list water baitfish receipt

  • May be used back and forth ONLY on the black-list water listed on the receipt (Note: Commercially purchased rainbow smelt may not be transported off the black-list water once brought onto the water)

A person transporting unused commercially purchased baitfish away from a waterbody for later use may hold them in any non-black-list water within the baitfish zone listed on the baitfish transportation receipt as long as:

  • The baitfish did not come in contact with a black-list water, AND
  • The baitfish may not be stored in waters where baitfish use is prohibited.

A person transporting unused commercially purchased baitfish away from a waterbody to use later may not store them in waters of a different baitfish zone. These baitfish must be kept in a closed container isolated from any flow of lake, pond, or stream water.

Commercially prepared and preserved baitfish and fish eggs available from retail stores may be purchased and used as bait, taken home, and kept for later use provided they are retained in the original packaging at all times.

Personal Baitfish Harvest

Personally harvested baitfish may be used on the same waterbody from which they were collected. A person may harvest and use only the following fish species (Approved Species) as bait: banded killifish, blacknose dace, bluntnose minnow, common shiner, creek chub, eastern silvery minnow, emerald shiner, fallfish, fathead minnow, golden shiner, longnose dace, longnose sucker, mimic shiner, northern redbelly dace, spottail shiner, white sucker. Rainbow smelt may be taken only by open-water/ice fishing.

Bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, and yellow perch may be taken only by open-water/ice fishing and used for bait only in those waters where taken.

On Lake Champlain, alewife and white perch may be taken only by open-water/ice fishing and used as bait in Lake Champlain; Alewife may only be used/possessed if dead.

Except in Seasonally Closed Waters, baitfish may be taken for personal use by the following methods: a) minnow traps no longer than 18 inches with an entrance not exceeding 1 inch in diameter; b) dip nets, cast nets, and umbrella nets not exceeding a total of 51 square feet of mesh, or a seine net not exceeding 25 feet in length; c) open-water fishing/ice fishing by hook and line.

In Seasonally Closed Waters, the personal harvest of baitfish is only allowed between the second Saturday in April through Oct. 31, during open season for trout, and then only by open-water fishing or the use of minnow traps no longer than 18 inches with an entrance not exceeding 1 inch in diameter. Most lakes, ponds, and streams that follow Table 1 and Table 3 (Tables) rules are Seasonally Closed Waters.

Anglers may hold baitfish on the water in a pen or baitbox 25 cubic feet or less in volume. All traps, nets, baitboxes or other holding receptacles capable of taking, holding or keeping live baitfish in public waters must be marked with the name, address, and telephone number of the owner and user.

The personal harvest of baitfish is prohibited on any waterbody of the state that is defined as closed to baitfish harvest. The department will maintain and make available a list of closed waters.

Personal Baitfish Harvest – Movement/Transport

Personally harvested baitfish taken from black-list waters may not be transported away or used on any other waterbody. For a list and description of black-list waters please see the Baitfish Zones and Black-list Waters Map and the Black-list Waters section below.

Anglers who wish to use, sell, or transport personally harvested wild baitfish outside of the waterbody in which they were harvested must possess and show upon request a wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license. To obtain this wild baitfish endorsement, anglers must successfully complete a wild baitfish endorsement course online. To learn more about the rules associated with catching and using your own wild baitfish and to learn about the wild baitfish endorsement course please go to www.vtfishandwildlife.com/wild-baitfish and refer to the full baitfish regulation (10 V.S.A App.§141).

Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may transport personally harvested baitfish away from a non-black-list water and use it in the same baitfish zone it was harvested in as long as the use of baitfish is allowed on that water. Refer to the Baitfish Zones and Black-list Waters Map or the Index of Waters on to determine what baitfish zone a waterbody is located in.

Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may hold personally harvested baitfish in any non-black-list water within the baitfish zone they were harvested in as long as:

  • The baitfish did not come in contact with a black-list water, AND
  • The baitfish may not be stored in waters where baitfish use is prohibited.

Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may hold personally harvested baitfish in a different baitfish zone if the baitfish are kept in a container isolated from any flow of lake, pond, or stream water or outflows to such waters of the state.

Fish eggs may be collected from legally harvested fish from a Vermont water and used immediately as bait on that water unless that waterbody is closed to baitfish collection. Personally harvested fish eggs must not be transported and used in any other waterbody. It is illegal to transport fish eggs back and forth from the same waterbody for use as bait unless they have been processed in a manner approved by the department.

Personally Harvested Baitfish Sale

It is illegal for an angler to sell personally harvested baitfish except:

  • Anglers may sell personally harvested baitfish to another angler while on the same waterbody where the baitfish were personally harvested.
  • Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may sell personally harvested rainbow smelt from a non-black-list water to a licensed commercial baitfish dealer as long as:
  • The dealer possesses a valid zone-specific commercial baitfish dealers permit for the same baitfish zone the rainbow smelt were harvested in.
  • The angler must complete and sign an affidavit specifying the waterbody where the personally harvested rainbow smelt were harvested from. This form will be provided from the department to the commercial baitfish dealer.

Approved Species of Fish
for use as Bait

  • Banded killifish
  • Blacknose dace
  • Bluntnose minnow
  • Common shiner
  • Creek chub
  • Eastern silvery minnow
  • Emerald shiner
  • Fallfish
  • Fathead minnow
  • Golden shiner
  • Longnose dace
  • Longnose sucker
  • Mimic shiner
  • Northern redbelly dace
  • Spottail shiner
  • White sucker
  • Rainbow smelt may be taken only by open-water/ice fishing and may be commercially sold as bait.
  • Bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, yellow perch may only be taken by open-water/ice fishing and used for bait only in those waters where taken and shall not be transported alive from waters where caught.

On Lake Champlain bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, yellow perch and white perch may be taken by open-water fishing or ice fishing, may not be transported alive, may only be used for bait on Lake Champlain, and may not
be commercially harvested or sold as bait. Alewife may only be used/possessed if dead.

All other species of fish are prohibited for use as bait.

Baitfish Zones

Baitfish Zone Dividing Line – A line extending from the Massachusetts border following Route 8A north to Route 112, north on Route 112 to Route 100 in Whitingham, north on Route 100 to East Jamaica, northwest on Route 30/100 to Rawsonville, north on Route 100 to Ludlow, north on Route 103/100 to Grahamville, north on Route 100 to Route 4/100, west on Route 4/100 to Killington, north on Route 100 to Morrisville, west on Route 15/100 to Hyde Park, north on Route 100 to Troy, north on Route 101 to Route 105, north on Route 105 to Route 243 in North Troy, north on Route 243 to the Canadian border.

Eastern Baitfish Zone – The baitfish zone including waters lying east of the Baitfish Zone Dividing Line.

Western Baitfish Zone – The baitfish zone including waters lying west of the Baitfish Zone Dividing Line.

Refer to theBaitfish Zones and Black-list Waters Map and the Index of Waters to determine what baitfish zone a particular waterbody is located in.

Black-list Waters

  • Connecticut River (BCT) defined as all waters of the river including the bays, setbacks, and tributaries, only to the first highway bridge crossing said tributaries on the Vermont side. Also including the following tributaries to the following boundaries:
    • Ottauquechee River to the top of the North Harland Dam in the town of Hartland
    • West River to the Interstate 91 highway bridge in the town of Brattleboro
    • Including Retreat Meadows, Brattleboro
  • Lake Champlain (BLC) (see 10 App. §122 Section 7.0) including setbacks at the same level and tributaries to the following boundaries:
    • Dead Creek to Panton Road
      bridge in Panton
    • East Creek to the falls in
      Orwell (downstream of
      Mount Independence Road)
    • Lamoille River to the top of the first dam (Peterson Dam) in Milton
    • LaPlatte River to the falls in Shelburne (under Falls Road bridge)
    • Lewis Creek to falls in North Ferrisburgh (just upstream of
      Old Hollow Road)
    • Little Otter Creek to falls in Ferrisburgh Center (downstream
      of Little Chicago Road)
    • Malletts Creek to the first falls upstream of Roosevelt Highway
      (US 2 and US 7) in Colchester
    • Mill River in Georgia to the falls
      in Georgia (just upstream of Georgia Shore Road bridge)
    • Missisquoi River to the top of Swanton Dam in the Village of Swanton
    • Mud Creek to the dam in Alburg (just upstream of Route 78 bridge)
    • Otter Creek to the top of the dam in the city of Vergennes
    • Poultney River to Central Vermont Power Dam at Carver Falls in
      West Haven
    • Including Coggman Pond,
      West Haven
    • Rock River to the first Canadian border crossing
    • Winooski River to the Winooski One hydropower dam west of Main Street (US 7) in Winooski and Burlington
  • Lake Bomoseen (B)
  • Lake Carmi (B) including the outflow to the top of Mill Pond Dam in the town of Franklin
  • Lake Memphremagog (BM) including the following tributaries:
    • Clyde River to the top of the abandoned Mill Dam immediately upstream of the Number 1, 2, 3 hydroelectric powerhouse in Newport City
    • Barton River to the downstream side of the US Route 5 bridge southernmost and closest to the village of Barton
    • Johns River to the downstream edge of the bridge on Beebe Road (TH #3) in the town of Derby
    • Halls Creek to the headwaters
    • Black River to the top of the
      falls at Old Harmon Mill in the
      town of Coventry
  • Lake St. Catherine (B) Including
    Lilly Pond and Little Lake
  • Batten Kill (BBK) and its associated tributaries including but not limited to:
    • Bourn Brook
    • Bromley Brook
    • Chunks Brook
    • Dry Brook
    • Green River
    • Lye Brook
    • Mad Tom Brook
    • Mill Brook
    • Roaring Branch
    • Warm Brook
    • West Branch Batten Kill
    • White Creek

Commercial Bait Dealers

Only persons operating a place of business and offering baitfish for sale to the public may apply for and hold a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit. Any person who buys baitfish for resale or sells baitfish is required to obtain a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit from the Commissioner except:

  • A person who only sells commercially preserved baitfish which are chemically treated in a manner approved by the department and then packaged for retail sale does not require a permit.
  • A person is selling personally harvested baitfish as outlined in the Personally Harvested Baitfish Sale section does not require a permit.

Commercial bait dealers may sell the following fish species as bait: banded killifish, blacknose dace, bluntnose minnow, common shiner, creek chub, eastern silvery minnow, emerald shiner, fallfish, fathead minnow, golden shiner, longnose dace, longnose sucker, mimic shiner, northern redbelly dace, spottail shiner, and white sucker.

Commercial bait dealers may also sell rainbow smelt as bait, provided they are obtained from a fish hatchery approved by the commissioner or harvested and sold following the below conditions for either a waterbody-specific bait dealer or a zone-specific bait dealer.

Commercial bait dealers must declare in their permit application if they will be a statewide baitfish dealer, waterbody-specific baitfish dealer, or a zone-specific baitfish dealer (limited to one).

Statewide baitfish dealers are prohibited from possessing, buying, or selling wild caught baitfish.

  • Baitfish sold by statewide baitfish dealers must originate from a fish hatchery approved by the commissioner and must hold or keep baitfish in waters drawn from a secure well, a municipal water source, or other water source approved by the Fish & Wildlife Department.
  • Baitfish sold by statewide baitfish dealers may be used in waters throughout the state, except those waters listed as closed to baitfish use.

Waterbody-specific baitfish dealers must declare on their permit application the black-list water on which they are located.

  • Waterbody-specific baitfish dealers may harvest wild baitfish only from the declared black-list water and offer them for sale and use only on that black-list water.
  • Waterbody-specific baitfish dealers must have baitfish holding facilities that discharge only to their declared black-list waterbody and no other waters of the state.

Zone-specific baitfish dealers must declare on their permit application the non-black-list water and baitfish zone on which they are located.

  • Zone-specific baitfish dealers may harvest and purchase wild baitfish only from non-black-list waters from the declared baitfish zone and offer them for sale and use only in that baitfish zone or black-list water within that baitfish zone, except those waters listed as closed to baitfish use.
  • Zone-specific baitfish dealers must be located in the baitfish zone which they intend to harvest, purchase, hold, and sell baitfish unless otherwise permitted for on a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit.
  • Zone-specific baitfish dealers may purchase personally harvested wild rainbow smelt as outlined in the Personally Harvested Baitfish Sale provided they maintain a list of smelt purchases which include the name, address, telephone number, and signature of the angler who sold the smelt to the dealer, date of sale, quantity of smelt purchased, and waterbody of origin. Such a form will be provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department to the Commercial Bait Dealer.
  • Zone-specific baitfish dealers are prohibited from harvesting or purchasing wild baitfish which have come into contact with a black-list water. Dealers are also prohibited from holding or keeping baitfish in water drawn from a black-list water.
  • Zone-specific baitfish dealers must have baitfish holding facilities that discharge only to their declared baitfish zone unless other permitted for on a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit.

Commercial baitfish dealers which harvest wild baitfish must not operate dip nets, cast nets, or umbrella nets exceeding 51 square feet of mesh, or a seine net exceeding 125 feet in length, for the purposes of taking fish for bait, unless otherwise permitted for on a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit. Baitfish netting is prohibited in all seasonally closed waters, unless otherwise provided for on a Commercial Bait Dealers Permit.

All traps, nets, baitboxes, or other holding receptacles capable of taking, holding, or keeping live baitfish in public waters must be marked with the name, address, and telephone number of the owner and user.

The commercial harvest of baitfish is prohibited on any waterbody of the state that is defined as closed to baitfish harvest. The department will maintain and make available a list of closed waters.

A commercial bait dealer must provide to each customer at the point of sale a copy of a transportation receipt containing the following information: 1) A unique receipt identification number, 2) The name and telephone number of the bait dealer, 3) time and date of sale, 4) species purchased, 5) quantity purchased, 6) baitfish zone or black-list water (limited to one) in which the baitfish will be used, and 7) the signature of purchaser.

A transportation receipt is valid for 10 days from time and date of sale.

A Commercial Bait Dealer must keep receipts or records for each lot of wholesaled hatchery-raised or wild-caught baitfish introduced into their shop. Records must include name, address and telephone number of seller (for wholesaled baitfish), and date received, species identification, and quantity purchased or harvested, for wholesaled and wild-caught baitfish. The permit holder must retain the receipts and records for at least one year after the date of sale or harvest. Receipts or records must be provided to the department immediately upon request.

Fish Stocking

A person shall not introduce fish into any public waters without a permit from the Fish & Wildlife Department.

Note: Updated requirements for persons stocking fish into private ponds and public waters took effect in 2018. Permit requirements have changed. Please consult the Fish & Wildlife Department website www.vtfishandwildlife.com for more information.

Fish Importation and Use of Imported Commercially Prepared Baitfish and Fish Eggs

It is unlawful for any person to bring into the state any fish that will be introduced into any waters of the state without an importation permit from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

These importation permits also require that the fish come from a fish hatchery approved by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Before being imported into Vermont, dead baitfish or fish eggs must be commercially processed in a manner that allows the product to be stored without refrigeration or freezing to maintain the unopened product. Imported dead baitfish or fish eggs must be retained in the original package at all times during importation and transportation.

The importation and possession of dead fish for personal consumption or taxidermy purposes is exempt from this regulation provided any associated waste products are disposed of to guard against the introduction of fish diseases to state waters. Acceptable disposal methods include

  • Placement of all fish waste products in an approved state landfill;
  • Incineration of all fish waste products;
  • Burial of fish on private land only, no less than one hundred feet from any public water.

For more information, go to
www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Fishing Tournaments

Fishing tournaments are contests in which anglers or ice fishermen pay a fee to enter and in which the entrants compete for a prize based on the quality, size, or number of fish they catch. In order for a person or organization to hold a fishing tournament on the waters of Vermont, a permit must first be obtained from the Fish & Wildlife Department in Essex Junction [call (802) 878-1564]. Where appropriate, a fishing tournament permit will contain a provision for live transport of fish by participants during the tournament. An angler may not enter a fish that was caught and confined to an enclosed area prior to the beginning of the tournament.

Fishing Houses

A fishing house is a fishing shanty, bob house, smelt shanty, tent, or other structure designed to be placed on the ice of the waters of Vermont for fishing or to be occupied for other purposes. These houses must have the name and address of the owner permanently and legibly affixed in waterproof paint or rustproof tag in a clearly visible place near the entrance outside of the shanty.

Tents or portable shelters are considered to be fishing houses if used for ice fishing and must be labeled with the name and address of the owner.

A fishing house shall not be placed on the ice before November 20, and it shall be removed with its contents and any surrounding debris before the ice becomes unsafe or loses its ability to support the fishing house out of the water, or before the last Sunday in March, whichever comes first.

Possession of Live Fish

No person shall have live fish in their possession that are transported in a manner that attempts to keep them alive when leaving waters of the state [10 V.S.A. Sect. 1251 (13)] except as follows:

  • The person has been issued a scientific collection permit by the commissioner;
  • The person has been issued a fish transportation permit by the commissioner;
  • The person has been issued a breeder/s permit or fish importation permit by the commissioner.

Aquatic Nuisance Species

It is illegal to possess or transport an aquatic plant or aquatic plant part, zebra mussels, quagga mussels, rusty crayfish, Asian clam, spiny water flea, fishhook water flea, or other aquatic nuisance species to or from any Vermont waters on a vehicle, boat, personal watercraft, trailer, or other equipment.

Obstruction to Fish Passage

People are prohibited from preventing the passing of fish in any stream or outlet or inlet of a natural or artificial pond on any public stream, by means of a rack, screen, weir, or other obstruction, unless authorized by the commissioner of Fish & Wildlife.

State-Controlled Fishing Access Areas

Definitions

Commercial Activity is any activity or service that produces income to any entity or individual.

Nonprofit Charitable Organization means an entity organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Picnicking includes, but is not limited to, any activity that involves cooking, grilling, food preparation, and setup associated with eating (including setting blankets or tablecloths laid on the ground).

Camping includes any activity using a tent, camper, or motor home, or any activity involving preparation of an area for sleeping or any overnight sleeping.

Group Use is use actually or potentially involving 10 or more people or two or more vehicles at a time.

Parking is the leaving of motor vehicles or trailers unattended in an access area.

Motor Vehicles are all vehicles propelled or drawn by power other than muscle power.

Vessel means motorboats, boats, kayaks, canoes, and sailboats.

Authorized Activities

In order of priority:

  1. Open-water fishing, ice fishing,
    and the launching of any vessel
    to be used for fishing and parking
    of vehicles and trailers necessary for and contemporaneous with these purposes.
  2. The launching of inboard and outboard motorboats engaging in any activity, and parking of vehicles and trailers necessary for and contemporaneous with that purpose.
  3. Trapping, hunting, and parking of vehicles and boat trailers necessary for and contemporaneous with
    that purpose.
  4. Launching of all nonmotorized vessels not used for commercial purposes, and parking of vehicles and boat trailers necessary for and contemporaneous with that purpose. Users shall launch from the designated nonmotorized launch site when such a site is identified.
  5. ATVs and snowmobiles when
    being used solely for the purposes of ice fishing.
  6. Permitted special uses.

Prohibited Activities

  • Discarding of bottles, glass, cans, paper, junk, litter, food, or any other garbage or trash.
  • Discarding of dead fish, wildlife, or portions thereof.
  • Washing or cleaning of vehicles and equipment other than for the
    purpose of removing aquatic plants and organisms.
  • Washing or cleaning of fish or wildlife.
  • Camping.
  • Picnicking.
  • Making or maintaining fire of any kind.
  • Water skiing.
  • Swimming.
  • Use of snowmobiles and ATVs, except for those being utilized solely for the purpose of ice fishing.
  • Parking of vehicles and or trailers while the vehicle owner or user is not present at the access area or on the adjacent public waters except as otherwise permitted by the commissioner.
  • Storage of vehicles and or trailers or placing of vehicles or trailers for sale.
  • Withdrawal of water except as authorized under Authorized Users listed below.
  • Parking in excess of 72 consecutive hours except that the commissioner may issue permits for longer parking when the commissioner determines that there will be no adverse impact on authorized uses found in Authorized Activities below.
  • Commercial activity except as authorized by Limited Commercial Activity described below.
  • Activity that interferes with a priority use, such as, but not limited to, the mooring or beaching of boats, using the ramp to rig a boat or boats thus obstructing use of the ramp, and the storing of boats or trailers at an access area.
  • Group use not specifically authorized by the commissioner.
  • Launching and recovery of sailboards, rafts, snow kites, and the parking
    of vehicles and trailers supporting these activities.
  • All other activity that is not
    specifically permitted by this rule, unless specifically authorized by
    the commissioner.

Authorized Users

  • Any person who is engaged in
    any authorized activity.
  • Any group that has received approval for group use in accordance with
    this rule.
  • Fire departments that have executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the commissioner for the installation and use of a dry hydrant. And then, only in accordance with their MOA. Fire departments may also use access areas without dry hydrants as emergency water
    sources to fight fires and will notify the local warden as soon as practicably possible.
  • Individuals participating in a fishing tournament permitted under
    10 V.S.A. §4613.

Limited Commercial Activity

Commercial activity at fishing access areas is limited to entities and persons taking part in activities authorized by Authorized Activities 1, 2, and 3 listed
above.

Special Permits

The commissioner may authorize special permits for entities or persons to use an access area for group use when the commissioner determines that there will be no adverse impact on authorized priority uses.

The commissioner may authorize the use of access areas by an educational institution or a nonprofit charitable organization conducting a fundraising event of limited duration, provided that the event will not conflict with a priority use of the access area.

Special permits shall not be issued and may be revoked immediately for activities that substantially interfere with authorized uses.

Permit fees shall be in accordance with the schedule of fees established under 10 V.S.A. §4132(e).

Speed Limit

The maximum speed on access areas shall be 15 miles per hour.

Littering

A person shall not leave trash on the
ice, in the water, or on the shore or stream bank.

Lead Sinkers

It is illegal to sell, offer for sale, or use a lead sinker in Vermont. “Sinker” means any device that weighs one-half ounce
or less and is attached to a fishing line for the purpose of sinking the line, and does not include other lead fishing-related items such as weighted fly line, lead-core fishing line, downrigger cannonballs, weighted flies, lures, spoons, or jig heads.

Kurt Budliger