Baitfish Rule Changes to go into Effect February 2

Vermont regulations for fishing with live bait will be a little more accommodating for anglers starting in early February.

On January 17, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board voted to approve changes to the baitfish regulations, allowing anglers more flexibility on transporting baitfish and more options for the fish species they can use as bait. The modifications, which go into effect on February 2, 2013, will not significantly reduce the regulation’s protection of Vermont’s fish populations.

The primary changes to the regulation include:
•       adding pumpkinseed, bluegill, rock bass, and banded killifish to the statewide approved baitfish list
•       creating a list of approved baitfish for Lake Champlain that includes alewife and white perch
•       Allowing anglers to transport commercially purchased baitfish away from a waterbody and bring the same bait back to the same waterbody within the 96-hour period shown on their receipt.

These are the first changes made to the baitfish regulations since the rule was implemented in 2008.

Shawn Good, the Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries biologist heading the Aquatic Nuisance Species Team, says that while regulations restricting the movement and use of baitfish remain necessary to control the potential introduction of fish diseases and invasive species, the department worked closely with the Fish and Wildlife Board to address some of the concerns anglers have had with the existing rule.

“Over the last four years, most anglers have come to the realization that baitfish regulations are necessary to protect the health of Vermont’s fish populations and the fishing opportunities we are fortunate enough to enjoy in this state. The foremost complaint from anglers was the prohibition on baitfish transport,” explained Good.

Under the previous rule, anglers were required to dispose of unused baitfish at the end of a fishing trip, and couldn’t take them off the ice or water due to concerns about potential cross-contamination and exposure to fish diseases and invasive species.

However, anglers noted that discarding baitfish was costing them a good deal of money, as they had to purchase new baitfish the following day, even when returning to the same lake as the day before.

“With this change, anglers will now have four days to move their store-bought baitfish back and forth between their home or camp and a single lake indicated on their baitfish receipt when they bought them,” explained Good. “However, if they decide to go to a different lake in that time period, they will have to buy new baitfish and get a new receipt.”

Baitfish regulations are designed to prevent the introduction of fish diseases and invasive species, so that the health of Vermont’s fish populations and the fishing opportunities we value remain safeguarded for future generations.

The complete text of the regulation is available at:

For additional information on using baitfish in Vermont, please contact Shawn Good, 802-786-3863, or

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