The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 10: Conservation and Development

Chapter 111: FISH

§ 4601. Taking fish; possession

A person shall not take fish, except in accordance with this part and regulations of the board, or possess a fish taken in violation of this part or regulations of the board. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961.)

§ 4602. Unintentional taking; return to water

When a fish is unintentionally taken contrary to a provision of this part or of regulations of the board, such fish shall be immediately liberated and returned to the water from whence taken, without unnecessary injury. The person so returning such fish shall not be subject to the penalty for taking same. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961.)

§ 4603. Catch limit; exception

When it is unlawful to take more than a specified number of pounds of any fish in one legal day, the taking of one fish additional by a person having less than the number of pounds specified when taken shall not be regarded as a violation of the provision fixing such limit. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961.)

§ 4604. Ice fishing

A person who holds a fishing license and a person who is allowed to take fish without such a license shall not take fish through the ice except in accordance with regulations of the board. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961.)

§ 4605. Placing fish in waters; fish importation permits

(a) A person shall not introduce or attempt to introduce:

(1) pickerel or northern pike into any waters; or

(2) any fish, except trout or salmon, into any waters except private ponds lacking access to other waters of the state.

(b) A person shall not bring into the state for the purpose of planting or introducing, or to plant or introduce, into any of the inland or outlying waters of the state any live fish or the live spawn thereof, unless, upon application in writing therefor, the person obtains from the commissioner a permit so to do. The permit may include conditions which the commissioner finds necessary to guard the health of Vermont's fish population.

(c) The commissioner may, by rule, adopt a list of fish which, if introduced into Vermont waters, have the potential to cause harm to the fish population of the state. A person shall not possess or bring into the state any fish on the list unless the person has received a permit issued pursuant to this subsection. The commissioner may issue a permit allowing importation and possession of a fish on the list, provided the fish is to be kept in a controlled situation and used for a public purpose such as research or education. A permit issued under this subsection shall include conditions that ensure the health and safety of Vermont's fish population.

(d) Applicants shall pay a permit fee of $50.00. The commissioner or duly authorized agents, shall make such investigation and inspection of the fish as they may deem necessary and then the importation permit may be granted pursuant to regulations which the board shall prescribe. The commissioner or duly authorized agents shall make a determination on the permit within 10 days of receiving the application. The department may dispose of unlawfully imported fish as it may judge best, and the state may collect damages from the violator of this subsection for all expenses incurred.

(e) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the board, the commissioner or their duly authorized agents from bringing into the state for the purpose of planting, introducing, or stocking, or from planting, introducing, or stocking any fish in the state. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961; amended 1981, No. 85, § 7; 1997, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 44, eff. Jan. 1, 1999; 2005, No. 42, § 2.)

§ 4606. Taking fish by unlawful means

(a) A person shall not take fish by means of explosives, or use explosives in any waters or have the same in his possession upon any waters, the shores thereof or islands therein, except for mining or mechanical purposes.

(b) A person shall not place in any waters lime, creosote, coculus inducus, or other drug or poison destructive to fish.

(c) A person shall not take or kill fish by shutting or drawing off water.

(d) A person, except as otherwise provided, shall not use or have in his possession for use or furnish for another's use, for taking fish, a pound net, trap net, seine, snare, gill net, set net, fyke net, set line, fishing otter, trawl or grapple, or similar device for killing fish or have in his possession such device on any waters or the shores thereof or the islands therein. Such devices may be summarily seized and destroyed by a game warden. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the taking of fish with, or the possession of, a spear or artificial light or the taking of eels with eel pots in designated areas of Lake Champlain.

(e) In Lake Champlain pickerel, northern pike, carp, garfish, bowfin, mullet, shad, suckers, bullhead, and other cull fish may be taken from March 25 to May 25 by shooting and spearing in other than spawning areas designated under section 4140 of this title. For the purposes of this subsection, Lake Champlain includes all connected waters at the same level.

(f) Except as authorized in chapter 105, subchapter 2 of this title and as utilized by the fish and wildlife department, electrofishing is prohibited in all waters of the state.

(g) A person shall not use a lead sinker for taking of fish in any state waters. In this section, "sinker" means any device which weighs one-half ounce or less and is attached to a fishing line for the purpose of sinking the line, and does not include other lead fishing-related items such as weighted fly line, lead-core fishing line, downrigger cannon balls, weighted flies, lures, spoons, or jig heads. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961; amended 1969, No. 110, eff. April 19, 1969; 1979, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 24, 1980; 1981, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 2, 3, eff. April 26, 1982; 1983, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), eff. April 13, 1984; 2003, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 2007.)

§ 4607. Obstructing streams

(a) A person shall not unless authorized by the commissioner, prevent the passing of fish in a stream or the outlet or inlet of a natural or artificial pond on a public stream, by means of a rack, screen, weir, or other obstruction, and shall comply with the terms of the notice provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) The commissioner may order such an obstruction removed by the person erecting the same or by the owner of the land on which it is located, by serving on such person or owner a written notice requiring the removal of such obstruction within ten days after service thereof. When such person fails to remove any such obstruction within the time required in such notice, the commissioner may remove the same and recover the expense thereof in a civil action on this section. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961.)

§ 4608. Repealed. 1991, No. 230 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(7)

§ 4609. Connecticut River; Lake Champlain

(a) Persons holding a New Hampshire fishing license may take fish from the Connecticut River, provided the state of New Hampshire grants the same right to persons holding a Vermont fishing license. Such taking shall be only in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the state of New Hampshire relative to open and closed seasons, limits of catch, minimum sizes of fish caught and methods of fishing and upon agreement between the commissioner and the director of fish and game of the state of New Hampshire and the approval of the secretary. Whereupon the laws of this state covering such matters shall be suspended as to the waters above described. Any violation of said provisions shall be punished as provided in section 4515 of this title.

(b) A person holding a New York fishing license may take fish from the Vermont portion of Lake Champlain provided the state of New York grants the right to fish in the New York portion of the lake to a person holding a Vermont fishing license. In this case, a person holding a New York license may take fish in the Vermont portion of the lake in accordance with rules adopted under this part and shall be fined pursuant to section 4515 of this title for violation of the rules while fishing in the Vermont portion of the lake. In this section, the Vermont portion of Lake Champlain means the portion of Lake Champlain which lies within Vermont waters up to the mouth of any tributary river or stream, and shall not include any waters on the east side of the railroad fills at Malletts Bay, the Gut, and Pelots Point.

(c), (d) [Repealed.]  (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961; amended 1983, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), eff. April 13, 1984; 1991, No. 230 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2003, No. 23, § 1, eff. May 14, 2003; 2009, No. 33, § 83(e)(7); 2009, No. 64 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 19, 2010.)

§ 4610. Repealed. 1991, No. 230 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(8)

§ 4611. Sale of salmon, trout, and black bass

A person shall not buy or sell a salmon, trout, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, or black bass taken in this state, or imported from another state or country where sale of such fish is prohibited, except such fish reared in licensed propagation farms within the state. (Added 1961, No. 119, § 1, eff. May 9, 1961; amended 1981, No. 85, § 8.)

§ 4612. Fishing houses

(a) The owner of a fishing house shall not place the fishing house or cause the same to be placed on the ice covering the waters of this state earlier than November 20 of any year, and then only if his or her name and residence address are permanently and legibly affixed, as by waterproof paint or rustproof tag in a clearly visible place near the entrance. The owner shall remove his or her fishing house, together with its contents and any surrounding debris, before the ice loses its ability to support the fishing house out of the water, or on or before the last Sunday in March, whichever occurs first. Under no circumstances shall a fishing house be allowed in the waters of this state.

(b) For the purposes of this section, "fishing house" means a bob-house, smelt shanty, or other structure designed to be placed on the ice of the waters of this state for use for fishing or to be occupied for other purposes. (Added 1969, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1971, No. 14, § 2, eff. March 11, 1971; 1981, No. 85, § 9; 1983, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.).)

§ 4613. Fishing tournaments

(a) No person or organization shall hold a fishing tournament on the waters of the state without first obtaining a permit from the department of fish and wildlife.

(b) A fishing tournament means a contest, in which anglers pay a fee to enter and in which the entrants compete for a prize based on the quality or size of the fish they catch. A tournament that limits the entrants to people below 15 years of age or a tournament held as part of a Special Olympics program shall be exempt from paying the fee required under subsection (d) of this section.

(c) The commissioner shall adopt rules that establish the procedure for implementation of this section. The rules shall include a provision that an angler may not enter a fish which was caught and confined to an enclosed area prior to the beginning of the tournament.

(d) The commissioner shall charge a fee of $50.00 for each permit issued under this section and shall deposit the fee collected into the fish and wildlife fund. (Added 1991, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 15.)

§ 4614. Largest fish; roster

(a) The commissioner may maintain a roster of names of people who have caught the largest of each species of Vermont fish. The roster may include the size and weight of the fish, date and place caught, and any other relevant information.

(b) No fish which was confined to an enclosed area by a person prior to that person or any other person catching the fish may be listed on the roster of largest fish. This subsection shall not apply to fish stocked under government authority. (Added 2003, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

§ 4615. Lead sinkers; sales prohibited

It is unlawful to sell or offer for sale a lead sinker in the state of Vermont. In this section, "sinker" means any device which weighs one-half ounce or less and is attached to a fishing line for the purpose of sinking the line, and does not include other lead fishing-related items such as weighted fly line, lead-core fishing line, downrigger cannon balls, weighted flies, lures, spoons, or jig heads. (Added 2003, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.)

§ 4616. Felt-soled boots and waders; use prohibited

It is unlawful to use external felt-soled boots or external felt-soled waders in the waters of Vermont, except that a state or federal employee or emergency personnel, including fire, law enforcement, and EMT personnel, may use external felt-soled boots or external felt-soled waders in the discharge of official duties. (Added 2009, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 1, 2011.)