Blessed with crystalline lakes, rushing rivers, and abundant fish species, Vermont is a premier destination for anglers. The summer months provide ideal conditions to catch trout, salmon, bass, pike, walleye and more all across the state.
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Here’s an in-depth look at some of the best places to fish and techniques to use for a successful summer fishing trip in Vermont:
Here are some key things to keep in mind regarding fishing licenses and regulations in Vermont:
- Fishing License – Anyone over 15 years old needs to have a valid Vermont fishing license. Resident licenses are $26 for the season. Non-resident licenses are $50 for the season or $25 for 1 day. Get licenses online or at tackle shops/Walmart.
- Limits – Most trout streams and lakes have a daily limit of 6 trout in total. Larger lakes like Champlain have higher limits for other species – consult specific regulations.
- Bait Bans – Many streams are artificial lures only and do not allow live bait to protect populations. Heavily stocked streams allow worms. Check regulations.
- Seasons – Vermont trout streams are open early spring to fall. Lakes are open year-round for most species besides trout/salmon which have limited seasons. Ice fishing is popular in winter.
- Size restrictions – Some waters have special regulations like minimum lengths to protect spawning fish. Common restrictions include 12-15 inch lengths for trout.
- Catch and Release – All waters have some fish that should be released gently like trout over a certain size. Handling fish with wet hands helps their protective slime layer.
- Boating Laws – Boats need to be registered/titled in Vermont. Also required are life jackets, anchor, paddle, and 1 throwable flotation device.
- Invasive Species – Clean all gear thoroughly to prevent spreading invasive species. Do not transport fish between bodies of water.
Following the specific fishing laws for each body of water ensures the long term health of Vermont’s fisheries!
The crown jewel of Vermont fishing, Lake Champlain contains over 50 species of fish with diverse summer habitats to pursue.
For lake trout and landlocked salmon, focus efforts in the deep, cold, northern waters. Troll deep crankbaits or spoons rigged with live bait like alewife or smelt. Some hotspots include the waters off St. Albans Bay, Mallets Bay, and the islands area between South Hero and North Hero.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass thrive in the vegetation-filled coves and bays of the south and east shores. Target them with topwater frogs, buzzbaits and poppers early in the morning or late evening. During the day fish deeper with jigs, soft plastic swimbaits and crayfish imitations. The sheltered bays around Burlington provide plenty of bass action.
The open waters between Grand Isle and Burlington Harbor hold walleye, yellow perch and muskellunge. Slow troll with bottom bouncers or three-way rigs tipped with nightcrawlers, leeches, or minnows.
Fishing in the Champlain Islands
- Lake Champlain’s Inland Sea – The broad, deep waters between Grand Isle, North Hero, and Alburgh are excellent for catching salmon, lake trout, and steelhead. Troll deep with downriggers and spoons or fish the drifts jigging or casting crankbaits.
- Isle La Motte – The island’s rocky west shoreline holds vast beds of zebra mussels, attracting walleye. Drift the flats casting crankbaits or bottom bouncing crawlers. The island’s east side also has good pike fishing in the weedy bays.
- The Channels – The narrow channels between the islands offer great action for bass and pike. Fish the bridge pilings and rocky points around South Hero and North Hero with spinnerbaits and jerk baits.
- St. Albans Bay – This massive bay is known for its superb bass fishing around the expansive weedbeds and lily pads. Use topwaters like frogs or flukes fished weightless.
Champlain Islands Towns
- Grand Isle – The largest island, home to a state park, the historic Hyde Log Cabin, and a winery. Excellent salmon and trout fishing abounds offshore.
- Isle La Motte – Quiet and rural, this island’s attractions include the historic St. Anne’s Shrine, Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve, and vineyards.
- North Hero – A popular resort town full of historic inns, B&Bs, shops, and eateries. Home to the North Hero House hotel and restaurant.
- Alburgh – Offers lake access, antique shops, and Alburgh Dunes State Park’s beaches and hiking trails.
- South Hero – Features the historic Allenholm estate, Knight Point State Park, and popular eateries like Pink Pig BBQ and Hero’s Welcome General Store.
Lake Bomoseen in Rutland county contains thousands of bass providing plenty of excitement on both spinning and fly tackle. Hit the many weedbeds, docks and submerged timber with frog baits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and soft jerkbaits in green pumpkin or black colors. Don’t be afraid to fish topwaters all day long as the bass here are very aggressive.
Batten Kill and Mettowee Rivers
In the Manchester region, these two rivers offer exceptional trout fishing. The Batten Kill is best known for its fly fishing, harboring brown, rainbow and brook trout. Wade the riffles swinging streamers, with nymphs and dries like elk hair caddis also producing. The Mettowee has wild brookies and browns, fishable from shore or by inflatable kayak.
A slower, deeper river flowing from the Green Mountains through Burlington into Lake Champlain. Smallmouth bass, walleye, pike and more inhabit its waters. Focus on the upstream reaches near the dam in Winooski or downstream in the lower delta. Slow troll live bait like creek chubs or nightcrawlers along the weedlines and drop-offs.
The expansive Connecticut River in southeast Vermont holds northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass and trout. Troll large creek chubs or rainbow trout imitating crankbaits along the vegetated banks and islands from Springfield to Brattleboro for pike and walleye. Bounce jigs or crayfish lures off the rocky points and ledges for smallmouth.
Fishing on Lake Memphremagog
- Newport – The city dock area offers excellent access and holds bass, pike, walleye, and perch. Fish the weedlines with jigs, spoons, or trolled stick baits.
- Prouty Beach – A boat launch and shore fishing access are available in this part of Newport. Drift the drop-offs for salmon and lake trout.
- Lord’s Creek – Known for its trout and salmon runs in the spring. Troll streamers and small spoons here for landlocked salmon.
- Owls Head – This shallow bay near the Owl’s Head town beach has productive bass fishing among the lily pads and grass.
Towns and Villages in the Lake Mempremagog Area
- Newport – The main city in the region, offering shops, restaurants, museums, and a lively downtown along Lake Memphremagog.
- Derby – A small town with several public beaches providing access to the northern end of the lake.
- Derby Line – Borders the Canadian town of Stanstead. Features duty-free shopping and the historic Haskell Free Library and Opera House straddling the border.
- Morgan – A tiny lakeside town with summer cottages dotting the shoreline. Home to the Nordic-themed Viking resort.
- North Troy – Known for Jay Peak Resort and access to the Jay State Forest and wildlife management area.
Remote Trout Streams
For an adventurous backcountry fishing experience, hike into Vermont’s remote wild trout streams. The Lamoille, Nulhegan and Willoughby Rivers hold native brook trout and stocked browns and rainbows. Use lightweight spincast rods to cast spinners, spoons and worms. Hire a guide to navigate these small, winding streams.
Don’t forget to pick up your fishing license and learn the regulations for each body of water. With its diversity of habitat and healthy fish populations, you’ll find endless opportunities for rod-bending action all summer long in Vermont!
Lake Fishing Techniques:
- Trolling – Using downriggers, lead core line, or dipsy divers to get lures and baits down deep where lake trout, salmon, walleye, and pike often feed. Good lures include deep diving crankbaits, spoons like the Williams Wabler, and spinner rigs with nightcrawlers.
- Jigging – Vertically jigging blades, ice jigs or tube jigs tipped with live bait off points, island drops, and weed edges to catch a variety of species. Effective especially for perch and bass.
- Slip Float Rig – A slip bobber and bead stop knotted on the line above a bait hook allows for flexibility in depth control when drifting or slow trolling live bait like leeches or minnows for trout, walleye, and more.
- Fly Fishing – Casting streamers, wet flies, and nymphs near shore over submerged weed beds where trout and bass patrol is an effective lake fly fishing technique. Strip-retrieving streamers works well.
Stream Fishing Techniques:
- Nymphing – Dead drifting or swinging a tandem rig of weighted nymphs along the stream bottom to catch trout. Beadheads, pheasant tails, and hare’s ears are go-to nymph patterns.
- Dry Fly Fishing – Flicking floating dry fly patterns like elk hair caddis, stimulators, and blue winged olives into prime holding spots during hatches to entice trout to the surface.
- Trophy Rig – Drifting live nightcrawlers or leeches on a leader and egg sinker rig through deeper pools and runs where big brown trout often wait in ambush.
- Spinner Fishing – Casting small spinners like Mepps and Rooster Tails upstream and retrieving downstream is an easy and effective technique for catching brook and rainbow trout in streams.
- Tenkara Fly Fishing – This simple Japanese fly fishing method uses a long rod with just a line and fly. Perfect for small mountain streams and allows for a very natural drift of flies along stream banks.
Best Times to Fish
Early morning and evening are prime times to catch fish in the summer, as Vermont fish become more active at cooler times of day. At dawn and dusk, target bass, pike and walleye in the shallows with topwater lures. During the daytime heat, fish deeper waters and weed edges by trolling deep diving crankbaits and jigs.
Pack light tackle like 1-6 lb test line, shorter casting rods for rivers, and sensitive whippy tips for detecting bites. Be sure to have sharpened hooks, smooth drag and fresh line to land fish. Also useful are long handled nets, polarized sunglasses to spot fish, hydration packs to stay cool, and waterproof phone cases.
Top Lures and Baits
When fishing Vermont, don’t overlook traditional live baits like nightcrawlers, minnows, leeches and cut bait which work very well, especially for trout, walleye and pike. Top artificial lures include inline spinners, shallow cranks, soft plastic swimbaits, topwater frogs and popped. And flies like wooly buggers, muddler minnows and bead head nymphs produce for trout.
For visitors without boats, hiring a guide opens up many excellent fishing opportunities. Experienced guides like Reel Deal Fishing Charters and First Cast Fishing Charters target the hot spots on Lake Champlain. Or remote drift boat trips in the Lamoille River valley and tributaries with guides like Trophy Trout Vermont.
Many of Vermont’s state parks like Burton Island, Knight Point and Sand Bar State Parks offer excellent shoreline access for families. Fish from shore or rent boats to catch perch, sunfish, bass and more. Slowly troll streamer flies or live bait for kids to catch fish. Also try sheltered rivers like the Poultney and upper Missisquoi with easy access and good populations of trout and bass for beginners.
Family-Friendly Lakes & Streams
Some of the best lakes for families include Elmore Lake State Park, with boat rentals, a swimming area, and catches of perch, bass and pike. Woodridge Lake at Prospect Mountain Campground, offering paddle boat rentals and a nice sandy beach along with trout and sunfish. Emerald Lake State Park is stocked with trout and has a nature center with hands-on exhibits for kids.
Easy streaming fishing access for families can be found at Mechanicsville Stream, a small creek stocked with trout. Lewis Creek near North Ferrisburgh flows through a grassy meadow and has wild brookies and stocked rainbows. And the Poultney River near Fair Haven is perfect for float tubes or inflatable kayaks, with bass and fallfish that are easy for beginners to catch.
Use light spinning tackle in the 6-10 lb range for younger kids with flexible rods. Include bobbers, spinners, and hooks sized #4-8. Also pack needle-nose pliers, line clippers, and a net. For flies, try easy-casting outfits with a floating line, 6-7.5 ft 3-5 wt rod and flies sized #8-14. Popular patterns are Hare’s Ear, Wooly Bugger, and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear.
For sunfish and perch, use live worms or small spinners under a bobber. Target shade structures like docks and overhanging trees.
For trout, drift nightcrawler rigs in streams or troll spinners, spoons and flies with sinking line in lakes. Early and late in the day are best.
For bass, use topwater poppers, spinnerbaits and soft plastic grubs around weed beds and structure. Jerk the lures erratically to trigger strikes.
Vermont offers abundant fishing opportunities in its clear, pristine waters. Lake Champlain is a premier destination, with excellent fishing for salmon, trout, bass, walleye, pike and more. Smaller lakes like Bomoseen and Willoughby also produce great catches of bass, pike, trout and landlocked salmon. Flowing rivers like the Battenkill, Winooski, and Lamoille are revered for trout fishing.
The best techniques on the lakes include trolling deep with downriggers or jigging weed edges and drops. On rivers, fly fishing with nymphs and dry flies is productive, along with casting spinners or drift fishing live bait. Early morning and evening are peak times during the summer.
There are family-friendly fishing spots at state parks and easy flowing rivers perfect for beginners. A license is required for anglers over 15 and specific regulations apply for bait, seasons and size limits on each body of water. Following sustainable fishing practices helps maintain healthy fish populations in Vermont for future generations to enjoy the state’s wealth of fishing opportunities.