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What's New — Regulations Simplification

It is widely recognized that sport fishing regulations can be a barrier to fishing participation. New and inexperienced anglers can find fishing regulations complex, difficult to understand, and intimidating. This can result in anglers fishing less, or not at all, for fear of unknowingly violating a fishing law.

To address this issue, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries staff worked for more than a year to review Vermont’s current fishing regulations. They strived to make them simpler and easier for average anglers to understand, while still maintaining the biological protections needed to conserve healthy fish populations and provide quality recreational fishing opportunities. To compliment the regulation changes, the annual Vermont Fishing Guide & Regulations publication, the primary source of Vermont’s fishing regulations for anglers, has also undergone a major revision to increase clarity and understanding of fishing regulations.

A significant change resulting from the simplification process is anglers will be able to fish most Vermont waters at any time of the year with artificial lures and flies, if they practice catch and release, except for a few seasonally closed waters or areas with special regulations. This step will increase angling opportunities while maintaining biological protections.

The new regulations become effective January 1, 2022. Although there have been considerable changes, many regulations remain the same. Some regulations have been made more consistent across waterbodies, and some special regulations have been removed. A few regulations are less restrictive, and a few are more restrictive. While it is always best to review the Fishing Guide and Regulations before going fishing, we wanted to highlight the very few regulations that have changed to be more restrictive.

Rivers and Streams:

  • Brook Trout, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout
    • Daily Limit: Total of brook + brown + rainbow = no more than 8
  • Landlocked Atlantic Salmon
    • Length Rule: Minimum length = 17 inches
  • Brownington Branch of the Willoughby River - From its confluence at the Willoughby River extending upstream to the second road crossing on Brownington Chilafoux Road (TH #15).
    • Daily Limit: Total of brown trout + rainbow trout/steelhead = no more than 2
    • Length Rule: Minimum length = 10 inches

Lakes and Ponds:

  • Seasonally Closed Waters – Only open to fishing 2nd Sat in April to Oct 31.
    • Cary Pond, Walden
    • Lake Pleiad, Hancock
  • Landlocked Atlantic Salmon
    • Length Rule: Minimum length = 17 inches
  • Lake Morey, Fairlee
    • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
      • Length Rule: Minimum length = 14 inches

Lake Champlain:

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
    • Length Rule: Minimum length = 12 inches.

Step by Step

How to Use This Guide

Step 1- Where are you going to fish?

Step 2 – Check for special regulations on the specific water you want to fish.

Step 3 – For all waters not listed in either index follow Table 1: General Fishing Regulations.

Note that some regulations vary by water type such as rivers/streams vs lakes/ponds. Daily limits are not additive across water types.