Fish Identification Guide

Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis

  • Description: Vermont’s native stream-dwelling trout, often called "squaretails." Greenish back with worm-like markings, light yellowish spots on flanks, small bright red spots surrounded by blue halos along the lateral midsection.
  • Special Features: Squarish tails.

Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss

  • Description: Introduced in the 1800s, with heavily spotted tails and flanks, a pink or reddish stripe along the flank, especially in lake-run individuals known as steelhead.
  • Special Features: Pink or reddish stripe along flanks.

Pumpkinseed – Lepomis gibbosus

  • Description: Small, brightly colored sunfish with bluegill, redbreast sunfish, rock bass, and black crappie. Rarely exceed 10 inches, known for excellent taste and abundant catch.
  • Special Features: Brightly colored, small size.

Brown Trout – Salmo trutta

  • Description: Brought to Vermont in 1892 from Europe, light brown overall with dark spots intermixed with reddish-orange spots along flanks.
  • Special Features: Light halo around spots.

Brown Bullhead – Ameiurus nebulosus

  • Description: Most common catfish in Vermont, olive-brown to dark-brown flanks with stout spine on dorsal and pectoral fins.
  • Special Features: Broad, flat mouth with whisker-like barbels.

Smallmouth Bass – Micropterus dolomieu

  • Description: Prefers cooler, clearer waters, golden green to brownish bronze flanks with dark, thin vertical bars.
  • Special Features: Upper jaw extends only to just below the eye.

Lake Trout – Salvelinus namaycush

  • Description: Native to deep, cold lakes, forked tail, white leading edges on lower fins, irregular light spots on olive green to gray body.
  • Special Features: Forked tail, light spots.

Chain Pickerel – Esox niger

  • Description: Fully scaled gill covers, light, golden-green flanks with no conspicuous spots or blotches.
  • Special Features: No conspicuous spots, fully scaled gill covers.

Yellow Perch – Perca flavescens

  • Description: Vermont’s favorite food fish, golden-yellow flanks with dark vertical bars, bright orange lower fins in spawning males.
  • Special Features: Dark vertical bars.

Landlocked Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar

  • Description: Identical to seagoing Atlantic salmon, silvery flanks, black spots on upper half of body, no spots on adipose and tail fins.
  • Special Features: Forked tail, silvery body.

Largemouth Bass – Micropterus salmoides

  • Description: Largest member of sunfish family, large, round mouth when open, light green to golden green flanks with horizontal bar.
  • Special Features: Large mouth, upper jaw extends well past eye.

Rainbow Smelt – Osmerus mordax

  • Description: Slender schooling fish with forked tail, iridescent silver flanks, popular forage fish for trout and salmon.
  • Special Features: Forked tail, iridescent silver flanks.

Northern Pike – Esox lucius

  • Description: Long, slender fish with large mouth, greenish-gray flanks, yellowish-white bean-shaped spots, scales only on upper half of gill covers.
  • Special Features: Yellowish-white spots, scales only on upper half of gill covers.

Walleye – Sander vitreus

  • Description: Largest perch family member, large silvery eye, olive-brown to golden-yellow flanks, dusky-colored first dorsal fin.
  • Special Features: Silvery eye, dusky-colored first dorsal fin.
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