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General Fishing Information

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For precise legal definitions consult Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 10, Part 4 and Appendix.

ANADROMOUS ATLANTIC SALMON: Any fish of the species Salmo salar found in the Connecticut River, downstream of Lake Francis in Pittsburg, N.H., or any of its tributaries, is considered an anadromous Atlantic salmon, regardless of its size or whether it has ever traveled to and/or from the waters or estuaries of the Atlantic Ocean. Under Vermont law, anadromous Atlantic salmon as defined above are classified as Big Game.

ANGLING: Fishing by means of hook and line in hand or attached to a rod, or by casting or trolling artificial flies, lures or baited hooks, provided that the person angling does not take fish through the ice, from the ice or from any object supported by the ice. 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.

BAITED HOOK: A single shank hook with 1, 2 or 3 points that may be baited with natural or artificial bait or both.

CATCH-AND-RELEASE: Angling as explained elsewhere, except that fish must be released immediately where caught.

CONNECTICUT RIVER: All waters of the river including bays, setbacks, and tributaries only to the first highway bridge crossing those tributaries on the Vermont and New Hampshire sides.

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

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.

FISHING HOUSE: A fishing house means a fishing shanty, bobhouse, 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.

FISHING TOURNAMENT: A contest 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.

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.

FOUL HOOKING: Hooking a fish in any other part of the body than the mouth with a hook or hooks, or manipulating hooks in such a manner as to pierce and hook the fish on a body part other than in the mouth.

FREE FISHING DAYS: Vermont now has two Free Fishing Days during which anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish without a license. Saturday, January 31, 2015 and Saturday, June 13, 2015. All legal fishing methods and limits still apply.

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.

IMMEDIATE CONTROL: Such constant control as would enable an angler to respond without delay to a fish taking his or her bait, lure or fly.

LAKE CHAMPLAIN: Lake Champlain includes setbacks at the same level and major tributaries to the lake 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 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;
  • Rock River to first Canadian border crossing;
  • Winooski River to the Winooski One hydropower dam west of Main Street (US 7) in Winooski and Burlington.

LEGAL FISHING DAY: The 24-hour period beginning at 12:00 midnight and continuing until the next 12:00 midnight.

LEGAL FISHING HOURS: 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.


  • DAILY LIMIT: The number of fish legal to keep during the legal fishing day.
  • POSSESSION LIMIT: 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.

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.


  • CLOSED SEASON: That period of time during which fishing is prohibited.
  • OPEN SEASON: That period of time during which fishing is permitted.

TAKING: Pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring and netting fish, and all lesser acts, such as disturbing, harrying, worrying or wounding or placing, setting, drawing or using any net or other device commonly used to take fish, whether they result in taking or not. This includes every attempt to take and every act of assistance to another person in taking or attempting to take fish.

Using the Fishing Information Section

Familiarize yourself with Definitions of terms, and the General Requirements and Prohibitions. They apply to all fishing in Vermont.

If the water body you want to fish is a river, stream, brook, or creek, go to the Index of Rivers & Streams. If it is a lake, pond, reservoir, or impoundment, go to the Index of Lakes & Ponds.

  • If the water body IS LISTED in the INDEX, the number to its right directs you to TABLE 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
  • If the water body is NOT LISTED in the INDEX, then the general regulations contained in TABLES 1–4 apply.

EXAMPLE: Trout River in Montgomery is NOT LISTED in the Index of Rivers & Streams. Table 1 contains the general regulations for rivers, streams, brooks and creeks not listed in the INDEX of Rivers & Streams.

The Index of Rivers & Streams contains the map page where the stream is located and the stream section number, which is also located on the map page.

The Index of Lakes & Ponds contains information useful to anglers. The column “Map” directs you to the map page which contains the lake or pond. The column “Lake Area” contains the surface area of the lake in acres. The next column, “Access,” lists the type of access area on the lake. The last two columns contain boating restrictions: Internal combustion engines allowed (Y/N) and then other boating restrictions.

General Regulations by Category


Rivers, streams, brooks, creeks and their unnamed impoundments & beaver ponds


Lakes, ponds, reservoirs, impoundments with names


Lake Champlain


Connecticut River


Certain lakes & ponds



Go to Using the Maps for instructions. The maps are intended as a guide to areas with special regulations. If you plan to fish one of these areas you should reference the Index of Rivers & Streams or Index of Lakes and Ponds for exact information.


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.


Harvesting and eating a freshly caught fish is part of the angling experience. However, catch and release fishing can also be enjoyable. The Fish & Wildlife Department has many catch & release fishing locations throughout Vermont, which are listed on General Requirements & Prohibitions. When releasing fish, it is important to follow these steps to ensure the fish will survive to fight another day:

  • Land a fish as rapidly as possible, because a fish played gently for too long may be too exhausted to recover.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible and gently restrain the fish to minimize violent thrashing while unhooking it.
  • Remove hooks gently and never rip the hook out; use the “hook shake” method. Reach into the fish’s mouth and grasp the hook shank with fingers or pliers. Lift the fish and rotate the hook shank down and shake gently, allowing the fish to slide off the hook.
  • Barbless hooks can increase the survival of released fish, particularly when fishing with bait. Barbs can be pinched flat with pliers.
  • Cut the line close to the hook on a fish that is hooked in the gills, throat or stomach and leave the hook on. The hook will rust off the fish within a few months.
  • When fishing with live bait, watch the line continuously and set the hook as soon as possible to reduce the chances of the fish swallowing the bait.
  • When ice fishing, keep the fish in the water while unhooking it if possible to avoid exposing it to freezing air. This will prevent the fish’s eyes and gills from freezing.
  • Before releasing an exhausted fish, cradle it in a swimming position and move it gently back and forth to force fresh water through its gills until the fish is able to maintain an upright position on its own. This could take up to 10 minutes for large, exhausted fish.

Vermont Fishing Access Areas Now Searchable on the Web

Planning a fishing or boating trip in Vermont just got easier. Vermont Fish & Wildlife has developed a website to help boaters find access points to lakes and rivers for fishing and other recreation.

You can learn directions to access areas and what fish species may be caught. You can also search to locate access areas within a county or on a body of water, and you can select areas with docks.

All Vermont Fish & Wildlife fishing access areas are provided free to the public for angling and boat access. Of the department’s fishing access areas, have a ramp for launching boats. Those without ramps provide carry-in boat access or shore fishing.

Learn more and check for details at

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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