Vermont fishing do’s and don’ts

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:03 AM EDT
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VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - Fishing season is here and many are gearing up to reel in a big catch, and with that comes an annual reminder from Vermont wildlife officials to respect the environment before wading in.

The last thing you want to see when you hit the lake or pond to go fishing is piles of trash or dead animals.

“We have a lot of gear requirements in Vermont,” said Corey Hart with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. He says most fishing mistakes are made by new anglers, specifically when it comes to the state’s lead sinker laws, which ban lead sinkers half an ounce or smaller to protect wildlife like loons, which tend to eat them.

“When they first get started with fishing, they use a lot of gear from yard sales that’s been in the attic. So, it’s always a good idea to check that gear-- and if it does have lead sinkers-- to replace it with lead alternatives,” Hart said.

He says they also see wildlife eating or getting caught in discarded fishing lines. That’s something that the group, Friends of Waterbury Reservoir, has been working on. They’ve placed recycling bins to collect monofilament fishing lines and lead sinkers next to popular boat launches.

“On the very first day, we put them out. The fisherman were already putting their monofilament fish line in it,” said the group’s Eric Chittenden. This is the third year they’ve been managing the bins and collecting the material in five-gallon buckets.

“We halfway fill it. Sometimes, some of us will take it, and the idea is to take it to a recycling area,” added the group’s Sheila Goss.

As for local anglers, they appreciate the effort these kinds of groups make to keep the waters clean. “Overall, it’s a better experience being out in a clean environment and enjoying what Mother Nature gave us,” said Christopher Ardell of Vergennes.

“We’re really fortunate in Vermont to have a lot of public access areas. The biggest thing is picking up after yourself, whether it’s your fishing line, worm containers-- just pick it up and bring it home with you,” Hart said.

Anyone fishing in Vermont over the age of 14 is required to have a license.

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