Fishing in Vermont

Before skiing took the state by storm in the 1960s, fishing was Vermont’s leading tourist industry. Its lakes and streams were nationally renowned and fishing lodges in Vermont attracted visitors from around the world.

Zealous fishing, river damming, and waterside property development have led to a decrease in fish stocks, but for fishing Vermont retains some of the best waters in the Northeast. Inland waters of Vermont are stocked with over 300,000 yearling landlocked salmon, brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout. This area encompasses over 500 miles of streams and rivers, and over 70,000 acres of lakes and ponds.

Visitors are recommended to hire one of the many Vermont fishing guides to show them best places for Vermont fishing. The Orvis Company in Manchester Vermont hosts an acclaimed fly-fishing school on the Batten Kill, the trout stream that made Vermont fishing famous. Orvis’s Vermont fishing guides give three-day courses weekly from April to October. Orvis Company was begun by the brother of the founder of one of the most famous fishing lodges in Vermont, Equinox Spa & Resort, a 19th-century retreat for wealthy city folk and now a modern luxury hotel. Other groups near Manchester, Battenkill anglers and Strictly Trout, have Vermont fishing guides to teach the art of fly fishing and lead groups fishing Vermont streams.

Abundant species of fish found while fishing Vermont rivers include rainbow trout, pickerel, small-mouth bass, perch, and bass. Central Vermont is known for its great warm-water lake and pod fishing. Bomoseen, Dunmore, and St. Catherine lakes are good for rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Fairlee and Morey lakes have bass, perch, and pickerel, among other species. Vermont fishing guides from Yankee Charters in Middlebury will rent gear and set up trips on Lake Champlain, which is stocked annually with salmon and lake trout. Several places around Burlington Vermont offer boat rentals and marina services.

Lake Champlain is not just popular for warm-weather fishing. In the winter, hardy folks will make ice-fishing holes here and in Lake Memphremagog.

Vermont’s White River used to be known as a spawning ground for Atlantic salmon. Years of damming and development have reduced their stock, but there is now a huge fish hatchery on the river turning fry loose into the waters in the hope that they will return as adults, aided by new fish ladders built around hydroelectric dams all down the Connecticut River. If successful fishing Vermont streams for salmon could become a very popular angling pursuit.

Anglers must obtain a permit from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife agency. Licenses for Vermont fishing are $20 for residents, $41 for non-residents (under 15 fish free). Non-residents can obtain 3, 5, or 7 day fishing permits for $15, $20, and $30 respectively. Consult the Vermont Fish and Wildlife office in Waterbury or call 802-241-3700 for more details and for information on daily catch limits.

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