Ice Fishing Rules
Vermont offers great ice fishing in lakes throughout the state, and the
action normally is great beginning in mid-January, depending on the weather. At
least six inches of solid ice is recommended for safe ice fishing.
Vermontís premier fishing destination, Lake Champlain, offers many ice
fishing opportunities. Ice anglers can find quality fishing for many species on
this 120-mile long lake, including landlocked salmon, lake trout, northern pike,
yellow perch, white perch, walleye, crappie, and smelt. There is no closed
season for trout and salmon on Lake Champlain.
Vermontís ice fishing season for trout, salmon and bass starts January 16 and
continues through March 15 on 40 other large Vermont lakes. A list of those
lakes can be found on page 50 of the
Guide to FishingRegulations.
Must Be Removed from Ice,
before the last Sunday in March
WATERBURY, VT Ė Cold weather may have extended ice fishing on some Vermont
lakes, but a state law requires that ice fishing shanties must be removed
from the ice no later than Sunday, March 29th. The same Vermont
law requiring the name and address of the owner be on an ice shanty also
requires that the shanty be removed before the ice becomes unsafe or loses
its ability to support the shanty out of the water, or before the last
Sunday in March (the 27th this year), whichever comes first.
The fine for leaving your ice fishing shanty on the ice can be up to $1,000,
and shanties may not be left at state fishing access areas.
Ice Safety Tips
In Part From the Burlington Free Press
tips, from the U.S. Coast Guard, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, fishing groups and other organizations:
STAY SAFE, FOLLOW THESE ICE FISHING
WATERBURY, VT -- Ice fishing is popular and a lot of fun. Each winter thousands
of anglers venture onto Vermontís frozen lakes seeking panfish for the dinner
table as well as trophy-size lake trout and northern pike. And,
each winter, there are ice-related accidents often caused by poor judgment or
poor decisions based on inadequate information.
-- Wait to walk on ice until it is a minimum
of 2 inches thick. Many people wait until ice is 4 inches thick. Snowy ice is
less sturdy than clear, hard ice.
-- Contact local bait shops and resorts for information on known thin ice areas.
-- River ice is always unsafe. Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river
mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs. Current
almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas.
-- Currents and weak ice are usually under lake bridges.
-- Carry a pair of ice picks tied together with strong cord and wear them around
your neck. You can use the picks to hoist yourself up if you fall through the
ice. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and
pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you
can purchase good ones at stores that sell fishing supplies.
-- Avoid alcohol at all costs. It weakens judgment and enhances hypothermia.
-- Avoid driving on ice, but if you do, some safety experts suggest unbuckling
your seatbelt and have a plan of action if the vehicle breaks through. Some also
suggest driving with windows down and doors ajar for an easy escape. Move your
car frequently because parking in one spot for a long time weakens ice. Leave
your car or truck on shore. Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice
on Vermont lakes, and many people have drowned as a result.
-- Let people know when and where you are going out on the ice. Leave
information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when
you expect to return.
-- When going out on the ice, probe ahead with an ice chisel. If the chisel goes
through, gingerly turn around and retrace your steps off the ice.
-- Heated fishing shanties must have good
ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the
door part way to allow in fresh air.
-- Wear a personal floatation device and don't
-- Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates
melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes.
-- Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see
open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!
-- Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the
New Rule to
Help Prevent Spread of Fish Disease
Emergency Regulation on Baitfish to
Help Prevent Spread of Deadly Fish Virus
VT Ė The
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board has enacted a new Emergency Rule in response
to a deadly new fish disease known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)
that is rapidly spreading through the St. Lawrence River and
Great Lakes. The new rule affects baitfish
Vermont and is designed to
proactively head off the spread of VHS and other fish diseases to the
VHS is a serious fish disease recently discovered in the
The disease causes the hemorrhaging of fish tissues and internal organs and
can kill tens of thousands of fish in a single event.
is currently known to affect 37 species of fish. Since there is no
vaccination or cure, the disease cannot be controlled, only contained.
The Emergency Rule, signed into law on October
23, 2007 will be effective for 120 days, expiring on February 19, 2008. The
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board has also begun the process of reviewing a
permanent regulation change that would take the place of the emergency rule
after it expires. Hearings to gather public input and comment will be held
throughout the state prior to adopting the permanent rule.
A summary of the emergency regulation is provided below.
The complete text of the regulation is available at
Personal Bait Use Restrictions
The personal harvest and use of wild fish as bait is
prohibited, with the exception of yellow perch and rainbow smelt, which only
can be used on the waters from which they were caught.
A person may buy, possess, transport, and use only Vermont approved species
Anyone purchasing baitfish must keep and show upon request a receipt for
purchases of baitfish from a state-approved commercial bait dealer.
Purchased baitfish can only be used on a single waterbody, and cannot be
transported to other waters for use. Receipts are valid for 48 hours from
time and date of sale. After this, the baitfish may not be used and must be
destroyed and disposed of properly.
Anglers must not depart waters of the state with baitfish in their
Commercial Bait Dealers - Permitted Activities and
The commercial harvest, sale, and use of wild
fish as bait are prohibited, except for those commercial dealers who will be
designated as Lake Champlain Zone baitshops who then may only harvest wild
bait from Lake Champlain, and only sell bait for use on Lake Champlain. Any
other baitfish sold commercially must originate from a fish hatchery
approved by the Commissioner.
A Commercial Bait Dealer may buy, possess, transport, and use only approved
species of baitfish.
A Commercial Bait Dealer must provide each customer with a copy of a receipt
containing the following information: 1) A unique receipt identification
number, 2) The name of the bait dealer, 3) time and date of sale, 4) species
purchased, 5) quantity purchased, 6) waterbody (limited to one) on which the
bait will be used, 7) signature of purchaser.
Receipt forms will be provided to Commercial Bait Dealers by the Fish &
Commercial Bait Dealers must keep receipts and records of each individual
lot of baitfish introduced into their shop for sale. The records must
include the name of seller, address and telephone number of seller, date
received, species identification, and number purchased. The permit holder
shall retain the original receipts for at least one year after the date of
Disposal of water.
being removed from the water, all watercraft, watercraft trailers, boating
or fishing equipment, including water in any bilge, ballast tank, bait
bucket, and live well must be immediately emptied and drained of all water.
This does not apply to tanks or containers of potable drinking water or
other beverages meant for human consumption.
For more detailed information on the VHS fish disease and how these
regulations may apply to you, and how to help prevent the introduction and
spread of VHS, visit
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