Personal Baitfish Harvest

If you plan on harvesting your own bait this is what you need to know.

  • Personally harvested baitfish may be used on the same waterbody from which they were collected.
  • Personally harvested baitfish taken from black-list waters may not be transported away or used on any other waterbody.
  • You may harvest and use only the Approved Fish Species as bait. 
  • Anglers who wish to use, sell, or transport personally harvested wild baitfish outside of the waterbody in which they were harvested must possess wild baitfish endorsement.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WILD BAITFISH ENDORSEMENT

  • The personal harvest of baitfish is prohibited on any waterbody of the state that is defined as closed to baitfish harvest. 

Harvest Methods and Holding Receptacles

  • Except in seasonally closed waters for trout, baitfish may be taken for personal use by the following methods: 
    • minnow traps no longer than 18 inches with an entrance not exceeding 1 inch in diameter;
    • dip nets, cast nets, and umbrella nets not exceeding a total of 51 square feet of mesh, or a seine net not exceeding 25 feet in length; 
    • open-water fishing/ice fishing by hook and line. 
  • In seasonally closed waters for trout, the personal harvest of baitfish is only allowed between the second Saturday in April through Oct. 31, during open season for trout, and then only by open-water fishing or the use of minnow traps no longer than 18 inches with an entrance not exceeding 1 inch in diameter. 
  • Anglers may hold baitfish on the water in a pen or baitbox 25 cubic feet or less in volume. 
  • All traps, nets, baitboxes or other holding receptacles capable of taking, holding or keeping live baitfish in public waters must be marked with the name, address, and telephone number of the owner and user.

Movement - Transport of Personally Harvest Baitfish

  • Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may transport personally harvested baitfish away from a non-black-list water and use it in the same baitfish zone it was harvested in as long as the use of baitfish is allowed on that water.
  • Only a person with a valid wild baitfish endorsement may transport unused personally harvested baitfish, collected in non-black-list waters, away from waters of the state for later use. 
  • Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may hold personally harvested baitfish in any non-black-list water within the baitfish zone they were harvested in as long as:
    • The baitfish did not come in contact with a black-list water, AND
    • The baitfish may not be stored in waters where baitfish use is prohibited.
  • Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may hold personally harvested baitfish in a different baitfish zone if the baitfish are kept in a container isolated from any inflow or outflow of lake, pond, or stream water of the state.

Use of Fish Eggs As Bait

  • Fish eggs may be collected from legally harvested fish from Vermont waters, and used immediately as bait on the same water where taken unless that waterbody has been closed to baitfish collection. 
  • Personally harvested fish eggs shall not be transported and used in any waterbody other than the waterbody where the fish eggs were harvested. 
  • You may not transport fish eggs away from a waterbody and return them to the same waterbody for use as bait unless they have been processed in a manner approved by the department.

VIEW APPROVED EGG DISINFECTION METHOD

Sale of Personally Harvested Baitfish

It is illegal for an angler to sell personally harvested baitfish except:

  • Anglers may sell personally harvested baitfish to another angler while on the same waterbody where the baitfish were personally harvested.
  • Rainbow Smelt: Anglers who possess a valid wild baitfish endorsement on their fishing/combination license may sell personally harvested rainbow smelt from a non-black-list water to a licensed commercial baitfish dealer as long as: ` 
  • The dealer possesses a valid zone-specific commercial baitfish dealers permit for the same baitfish zone the rainbow smelt were harvested in. 
  • The angler must complete and sign an affidavit specifying the waterbody where the personally harvested rainbow smelt were harvested from. This form will be provided from the department to the commercial baitfish dealer.

See also:

Contact Us

Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Commissioner Louis Porter

1 National Life Drive
Fish & Wildlife LogoDavis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3702
802-828-1000
fwinformation@vermont.gov

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