Baitfish Regulations in Vermont

When it comes to using live baitfish in Vermont, it's essential to abide by our baitfish regulations. Here's what you need to know to ensure compliance and protect our fisheries.

Compliance Requirements

  • Receipt Keeping: If you use live baitfish, it's mandatory to keep a receipt.
  • Transportation: Avoid transporting baitfish illegally between waterbodies.
  • Wild Baitfish Endorsement: Harvesters of baitfish must display a current Wild Baitfish Endorsement if they harvest their own bait.

For detailed information on Vermont's baitfish regulations, please refer to the department's website. If you have any questions not addressed in this FAQ, it's best to check online before transferring baitfish between waterbodies. Responsible fishing practices benefit our fisheries immensely.

Purpose of Baitfish Regulations

Baitfish regulations serve to mitigate the risk of spreading invasive species or diseases associated with live bait usage. By adhering to these regulations, anglers contribute to the preservation of Vermont's aquatic ecosystems.

Coverage and Zones

  • Eastern Zone and Western Zone: Vermont is divided into these two zones.
  • Multiple Waterbodies Usage: Anglers may purchase or harvest baitfish and utilize them in multiple waterbodies within the same zone.

Waterbody Restrictions

  • Reasoning: Waterbodies designated as restricted may harbor invasive species or fish diseases, posing higher risks.
  • Prohibition: Baitfish used or harvested in these restricted waterbodies cannot be transported to or utilized in a different waterbody.

For further information regarding the commercial harvest of baitfish, please visit

Restricted Waters in Vermont

Certain waters in Vermont are designated as restricted, imposing specific boundaries and regulations to protect the aquatic environment. Understanding these restrictions is essential for anglers and conservation efforts alike.

Connecticut River (R-CT)

  • Defined Area: Encompasses all waters of the Connecticut River, including bays, setbacks, and tributaries, up to the first highway bridge crossing said tributaries on the Vermont side.
  • Tributary Boundaries:
    • Ottauquechee River: Extends to the top of the North Hartland Dam in the town of Hartland.
    • West River: Reaches to the Interstate 91 highway bridge in the town of Brattleboro, including Retreat Meadows.

Lake Champlain (R-LC)

  • Defined Area: Covers Lake Champlain and its setbacks at the same level, along with various tributaries up to specified boundaries.
  • Tributary Boundaries:
    • Dead Creek: Extends to the Panton Road bridge in Panton.
    • East Creek: Reaches to the falls in Orwell, downstream of Mount Independence Road.
    • Lamoille River: Extends to the top of the first dam (Peterson Dam) in Milton.
    • LaPlatte River: Reaches to the falls in Shelburne, under the Falls Road bridge.
    • Lewis Creek: Extends to the falls in North Ferrisburgh, just upstream of Old Hollow Road.
    • Little Otter Creek: Reaches to the falls in Ferrisburgh Center, downstream of Little Chicago Road.
    • Malletts Creek: Extends to the first falls upstream of Roosevelt Highway (US 2 and US 7) in Colchester.
    • Mill River: Extends to the falls in Georgia, just upstream of Georgia Shore Road bridge.
    • Missisquoi River: Reaches to the top of Swanton Dam in the Village of Swanton.
    • Mud Creek: Extends to the dam in Alburgh, just upstream of Route 78 bridge.
    • Otter Creek: Reaches to the top of the dam in the city of Vergennes.
    • Poultney River: Extends to Central Vermont Power Dam at Carver Falls in West Haven.

Other Restricted Waters

  • Lake Bomoseen (R)
  • Lake Carmi (R): Includes the outflow to the top of Mill Pond Dam in the town of Franklin.
  • Lake Memphremagog (R-M): Along with various tributaries.
  • Lake St. Catherine (R): Includes Lilly Pond and Little Lake.
  • Batten Kill (R-BK) and associated tributaries, such as Bourn Brook, Bromley Brook, Chunks Brook, Dry Brook, Green River, Lye Brook, Mad Tom Brook, Mill Brook, Roaring Branch, Warm Brook, West Branch Batten Kill, and White Creek.

Vermont Fishing Baitfish Use & Restrictions

Buying Baitfish Regulations

When purchasing baitfish in Vermont, it's essential to follow specific regulations based on where you intend to fish. Here's what you need to know:

Restricted Water

  • Authorized Shops: Purchase baitfish from a shop authorized to sell in the specific Restricted Water you plan to fish, a shop authorized to sell in the zone encompassing the Restricted Water, or a statewide authorized shop.
  • Receipt Zone: If your receipt specifies a zone, you can use the baitfish in a Restricted Water within that zone. However, you must not transport the baitfish away from that Restricted Water.
  • Restricted Water on Receipt: If your receipt lists a specific Restricted Water, you can only use those baitfish on that waterbody. However, you are permitted to transport the baitfish on and off the water.

Eastern Zone

  • Authorized Shops: Purchase baitfish at a shop authorized to sell baitfish in the Eastern Zone or statewide.
  • Usage and Transportation: You can use and transport your baitfish between any non-Restricted Waterbodies within the Eastern Zone.

Western Zone

  • Authorized Shops: Purchase baitfish at a shop authorized to sell baitfish in the Western Zone or statewide.
  • Usage and Transportation: Similarly, you can use and transport your baitfish between any non-Restricted Waterbodies within the Western Zone.

Wild Baitfish Harvesting Regulations

Choosing Harvest Locations

Before embarking on baitfish harvesting, it's imperative to understand the specific regulations governing different areas:

Restricted Water

Baitfish sourced from a Restricted Waterbody come with stringent transport restrictions. These baitfish cannot be relocated away from the waterbody, even if it's intended for use within the same area on subsequent days.

Eastern Zone

In the Eastern Zone, harvested baitfish hold more flexible usage permissions. They can be utilized in any waterbody within the zone or in a Restricted Water within the same zone. However, any baitfish employed in a Restricted Water cannot be transported off that particular waterbody.

Western Zone

Similar to the Eastern Zone, baitfish obtained from the Western Zone enjoy versatility in usage. They can be deployed in any waterbody within the zone or in a Restricted Water within the same zone. Nevertheless, similar transport restrictions apply, prohibiting the movement of baitfish used in Restricted Waters beyond their confines.

Mandatory Endorsement Quiz

Before engaging in baitfish harvesting activities, it's mandatory to complete the Wild Baitfish Endorsement Quiz. Successful completion of this quiz allows you to add the Wild Baitfish Endorsement to your fishing license, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Importance of Baitfish Purchase Receipts

When purchasing baitfish, obtaining a receipt is not just a formality; it serves a crucial purpose in ensuring compliance with regulations and facilitating proper usage. Here's why you need a receipt:

Guidance on Usage Locations

The receipt acts as a guide, indicating where you are permitted to use the baitfish you've purchased. Whether for utilization within a specific Zone or in designated Restricted Waters, the receipt clarifies the permissible areas for baitfish deployment.

Transport Authorization

In scenarios where baitfish are acquired for use in Restricted Waters like Lake Champlain, the receipt plays a vital role. It specifies that the bait can only be utilized on the specified waterbody. However, having the receipt allows you the flexibility to transport the bait away from the lake at the conclusion of your fishing excursion.

Compliance Assurance

If baitfish are procured for a particular Zone but end up being used in a Restricted Waterbody, strict regulations come into play. Transporting such baitfish off the Restricted Waterbody or deploying them in another waterbody is strictly prohibited. The receipt serves as evidence of the intended usage location, ensuring adherence to regulatory mandates.

Validity Period

It's essential to note that the receipt holds validity for a limited duration of 10 days post-purchase. Beyond this timeframe, any baitfish obtained under that receipt cannot be utilized. This stipulation emphasizes the need for timely and responsible usage of purchased baitfish.

Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.