Shelburne, VT Fishing: Savor Great Freshwater

Shelburne, VT Fishing: Savor Great Freshwater
Published: Wednesday, March 24th, 2021
Updated on: Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Shelburne, a beautifully quaint town south of Burlington, is one of Vermont’s most desirable places to live in. With a population of a little less than 8000, Shelburne attracts its fair share of visitors from all over New England and beyond. And why not? It is very easy to access from Vermont’s biggest city, Burlington. It boasts of a stunning downtown area, amazing local attractions, year-round festivals, and majestic natural vistas, including the Adirondacks and the fantastic Lake Champlain.

Chartered as a town in 1763, Shelburne was primarily known for its farming. This region was particularly popular for its fruit orchards, grain production, and wool. However, the rise of industrialization in the country led to the decline in the town’s local industries. The economic focus centered mainly on the city center, with Shelburne becoming more dependent on Burlington for its growth. This led to a greater demand for suburban life, though. And with more and more families seeking homes just within reach of the nearby city, Shelburne transformed itself into the residential suburban area that it is now today.

Visitors will instantly recognize what residents love about their hometown: the accessibility, the natural beauty, the pleasant summer weather, the fantastic infrastructures, the amazing museums, and great freshwater fishing opportunities on the great Lake Champlain. So if you’re looking to explore a new part of New England, drive ten minutes south of Burlington and be captivated by the local charm of Shelburne, Vermont. 

Fishing in Shelburne

Fishing in Shelburne means freshwater fishing in the majestic waters of Lake Champlain. Anglers will know this crystal-clear lake as the sixth-largest natural lake in the country and one of the best waters for ice fishing. However, fishing is fantastic in Shelburne in spring, summer, and early fall, so you can take your chances in the area in whatever season you choose. There are over 90 species of fish in the natural freshwater lake, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. However, before targeting any fish, make sure to check with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Regulations for their list of catch-and-release species.

One of the best ways to access the waters of Lake Champlain is via Shelburne Bay, which is quite a big bay located on the lake itself. You can target Lake Trout or Rainbow Trout in early spring and then in late fall when the waters are colder. Late spring to early summer, you can fish for several species of panfish such as white perch and yellow perch, pumpkinseed, sunfish, black bullhead, and crappie, along with northern pike. On the other hand, the best months to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass are April and May.

Expert anglers who love Shelburne Bay will recommend casting a line on the shoreline at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Shelburne Bay Access Area. Look for the bridge on Bay Road, as the spot offers legendary fishing.

Nearby, you can also access the LaPlatte River. You can fly fish or bait cast for some northern pike, brook trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and walleye. Don’t be confused as the river goes by many names, including Quineaska Took, Platt River, and Laplot River.

If you’re keen to ice fish in Shelburne, you might find Shelburne Pond a worthy spot to try. It is quite shallow at 25 feet. The pond is over 450 acres of rugged beauty. If you want to fish on a boat or a kayak, go to the southwest area of the pond to find the boat ramp. However, you can also do shoreline fishing well here. Species to catch in the pond include panfish such as yellow perch, brown bullhead, black crappie, and largemouth bass, and northern pike. Because the waters are so shallow, sight-fishing is particularly fruitful here. Look for covers, gravel banks, and vegetation, as these will most likely attract a great number of fish.

As with the rest of Vermont, Shelburne offers two free fishing days: in the summer, you can fish without a license on the second Saturday of June, and in the winter, you can ice-fish without a license on the last Saturday of January. Free fishing days are great for beginning anglers and families. 


Top 10 Fish Species to Catch in Shelburne, Vermont

The top 10 fish to target in Shelburne are rainbow trout, lake trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, white perch, black crappie, and walleye.

Shelburne, VT Fishing: Savor Great Freshwater Fish species
Redear Sunfish

Habitat: Lake, River, Pond, Streams

Weight: 0 - 5 Pounds

Length: 6" - 17"

Northern Pike

Habitat: Onshore

Weight: 2 - 34 Pounds

Length: 16" - 29"


Habitat: River, Lake

Weight: 0 - 5 Pounds

Length: 4" - 19"

Black Bullhead 

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 5 Pounds

Length: 8" - 26"

American Yellow Perch

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 4 Pounds

Length: 1" - 10"

Largemouth Bass

Habitat: Lake, Pond, Rivers

Weight: 2 - 22 Pounds

Length: 15" - 32"


Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 1 Pounds

Length: 4" - 16"

White Perch 

Habitat: inshore

Weight: 0 - 3 Pounds

Length: 7" - 19"

Seasonal Fishing in Shelburne

There are plenty of fishing opportunities in Shelburne, but spring and summer are truly spectacular in terms of the variety of catch. Early spring is your best bet for trout and largemouth bass, while late spring to early summer is panfish and northern pike season. Late fall, you can try your luck with Trout as well when the waters become colder. Ice fishing for lake trout and other species starts in January (third Saturday to be exact) and ends on March 15.


Explore Beautiful Vermont


1.Fishing Charters

Enjoy spectacular views and great fishing in Vermont. 


2. Head to Vermont’s Most Famous Museum

Back in the 60s and 70s, a field trip to New England would not be complete without a jaunt at the Shelburne Museum. It is, after all, one of the biggest art and history museums in the area. Even without entering the actual museum itself, walking around the museum's grounds is already an educational experience in itself, as it holds many historic architectural gems from all over New England. But of course, don’t deprive yourself of its many art collections. Shelburne Museum is known particularly for its diverse collections - including four centuries of Americana and everything in between.


3. Indulge Your Inner Kid or Your Kids

Raising a child in Shelburne must be amazing. Not just because of its natural beauty and tight-knit community, but because of its many wondrous kid-friendly attractions. Bookworms will find The Flying Pig Bookstore a delight. This indie bookshop may no longer be strictly for children, but it is still known for its children’s authors' events. It is one of the town’s many beloved institutions, indeed.

Another kid-friendly destination is the famous Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Here you can visit where the bears are made. And you can customize one for a loved one or yourself. Production visits are only open from Mondays to Fridays, so if you want to attend them, make sure to schedule your visits within the weekdays.


4. Enjoy a Whole Day at Shelburne Farms

Enjoy the natural vistas on the farms’ many walking trails, learn about sustainable farming, join your kids as they check in with the animals at the Children’s Farmyard, and enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at the in-house restaurant. If you’re feeling extra fancy, book a stay at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, built originally in the 19th century and still features many of its furnishings.


5. Get a Taste for Local Wines and Beers

Shelburne Vineyard started as a backyard vineyard, but today it is a local institution. Book a self-guided tasting before buying a bottle to take home. Or if you want a relaxing day, drinking wine while enjoying the views, you can also reserve a spot on the lawn and order by the glass or bottle.

If you’re more into draft beer, check out the Fiddlehead Brewing Company and book a visit to their Tasting Room, where you can sample their offerings before buying. It is a relatively new brewery but is fast becoming one of Shelburne’s local pride. 

Fishing Techniques
Ice Fishing
Fly Fishing