Book Now

Vermont: A Fantastic Freshwater Fishing Haven

Published: Monday, June 13th, 2022| Updated on: Thursday, June 30th, 2022


Vermont is flanked by Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River, two majestic water bodies that feed the many streams, lakes, and ponds in the beautifully lush state. These waterbodies, along with its heavily forested surroundings, make the state a bonafide fishing destination that freshwater and fly anglers flock to year in and year out.

Though quite small compared to many prime fly fishing destinations in the country, Vermont holds a big number of productive spots conducive to the beloved technique. Ice anglers will likewise love the state for many of its streams and ponds freeze over. To further promote itself as a premier fishing destination for the whole family, Vermont regularly holds a Father’s Day Fishing Derby on Lake Champlain and has two Free Fishing Days yearly — one in summer and one in winter.

Vermont offers various ways for resident and visiting anglers to enjoy fishing. It has 196 free fishing access areas and 51 state parks where anglers can enjoy other outdoor activities while luxuriating in the scenic views. For anglers who want to commune even closer with nature, the state has some of the most beautiful camping areas that double as scenic fishing spots.

Vermont Map of Places to Fish

About Fishing in Vermont

Vermont may be the sixth smallest state in the country, but with over 800 lakes and 7,000 miles of rivers and streams, the fishing opportunities here are anything but small. 

Fly anglers are spoiled for choice in the Green Mountain State when it comes to the best fly fishing spots. However, if you can only fit in a handful of waterbodies to your fly fishing trip, the Battenkill River should be at the very top of your bucket list. This Vermont classic is nestled amid the Green Mountains and is considered the top fly fishing river in the state by most anglers. It is, however, not for the fly fishing greenhorn. The river, home to wild brown trout and brook trout, are a challenge to land as they are quite sensitive, easily spooked, and smart, making them all the more attractive to fly anglers seeking a new achievement. While much of the river is private, there are great public access points along the river, including ones at Wagon Wheel, Red Mill, and Waterworks Bridge. 

The White River is yet another fly fishing haven home to both stocked and wild trout along with the Atlantic salmon that swim through the river on their way to spawn in the Connecticut River. Unlike the Battenkill, the White River is a little friendlier for beginners. The big river has three sections. Two of the branches can be accessed from Royalton and hold rainbow trout and brown trout. The third section in Bethel along highway 12A is stocked with rainbow trout. From Stockbridge approaching Royalton, there’s a part of the river that likewise holds smallmouth bass in the summer. If you’re exclusively fly fishing, head straight to the fly fishing-only section between Bethel’s Cleveland Brook to Linnieville Brook.

No fishing trip in Vermont is complete without fishing in the great Lake Champlain. The lake is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the US, with over 500 miles of shoreline, depths reaching up to 400 feet, and home to more than 90 fish species. Its shallow parts consistently rank as one of the best bass fishing waters while its deeper areas attract quite a number of lake trout and landlocked salmon. If you’re more into the variety of fish species, accessing the lake from Albert in northwest Vermont should be part of your fishing itinerary, particularly the Korean War Veterans Fishing Access. Burton Island State Park offers great access to the lake as well.

For yellow perch, white perch, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass, brown bullhead, and northern pike, Winooski River and Colchester, Lower Lamoille River in Milton, Lake St. Catherine in Poultney, and Shelburne Bay are excellent spots to seek. 

Fishing doesn’t slow down in Vermont during winter. In fact, ice fishing on “hard water” is a beloved tradition in the state. Ice fishing season typically starts on January 1 and lasts until March 15. Lake Champlain’s bays are usually the go-to spots as they hold quite a number of fish, including northern pike, lake trout, landlocked salmon, walleye, yellow perch, white perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and many other Vermont panfish. 

Trout are undoubtedly the catch of choice for anglers fishing in Vermont, and the state takes care to maintain that they are around for generations to come. It is important to note, therefore, that while these fish species are available to catch all year round, they are on a catch-and-release basis if caught outside the open season, which starts on the second Saturday of April and finishes on the 31st of October. Some rivers and streams may have special regulations regarding trout, so it’s best to check the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website before heading out to a particular spot.

Everything Else About Vermont Fishing

Fishing in Vermont is productive all year round, but there’s something spectacular about fishing in the state during fall. Around this time, as the waters begin to cool, many of the fish in Vermont’s lakes, rivers, and streams start to become more active to prepare for winter. All of them — from the cold-water trout and salmon to the warm-water bass, walleye, northern pike, and panfish — replenish and stock up on their reserves to survive the long winter ahead. What’s even better is that anglers can enjoy fishing for these species while treating themselves to Vermont’s signature autumn foliage. 

No matter which season you choose to fish in the state, one of the best ways to do so is by booking a local fishing guide or charter. As with any state, Vermont has its own set of rules and regulations which can vary by town, city, and waterbody, and for a visitor, it’s hard to keep up with them. A local expert can steer you the right way. If you’re keen to fly fish in the state, book John Rogers of Vermont Fly Fishers. Go backcountry fishing on Lake Champlain with Sterling Pelsue of Fine Line Fishing Adventures.


Top Fish To Catch in Vermont

  1. Rainbow trout
  2. Lake trout
  3. Brook trout
  4. Brown trout
  5. Largemouth bass
  6. Smallmouth bass
  7. Northern pike
  8. Atlantic salmon

Top fishes in Vermont

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout fish

Habitat: River, Lake

Weight: 1 - 8 Pounds

Length: 16" - 34"

Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic Salmon fish

Habitat: Onshore, Lake, River

Weight: 8 - 12 Pounds

Length: 24" - 32"

Brook Trout
Brook Trout fish

Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 10 Pounds

Length: 10" - 34"

Brown Trout
Brown Trout fish

Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 2 - 40 Pounds

Length: 13" - 39"

Fishing Techniques in Vermont

Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing
Ice Fishing
Ice Fishing