[DIY] Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Vermont

When you think of Vermont, you may picture quaint little towns and a rustic, rural lifestyle.

While this is true to some extent, there are also plenty of activities to keep residents and visitors alike entertained and on the move.

The tiny little state may rank 49th in population among the 50 states, but it is packed with thousands of bodies of water – from lakes and ponds to rivers and streams, fly fishermen will find plenty of waters in which to indulge in their favorite sport.

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Lake Champlain is no secret, even to those from other areas of the U.S., but this mammoth natural wonder isn’t the only game in town as far as water sports go. Vermont is divided into six geographical areas, each with their own aquatic gems:

  • Northeast Highlands: this area is punctuated by incredible granite mountains, and is cut through by rapidly flowing streams.
  • Western New England Upland: also known as the Vermont Piedmont, the northern portion features an abundance of lakes.
  • Green Mountains: the center of Vermont tourism, this area provides rich natural resources like marble, talc, slate, and granite.
  • Vermont Valley: hosts the Battenkill and Waloomsac rivers, along with a bevy of other small rivers.
  • Taconic Mountains: just as it sounds, mountains populate this area, along with stunning lakes and vigorous streams.
  • Champlain Valley: the fertile land of the Vermont Lowland borders the state’s largest lake, Lake Champlain.

While the options are virtually limitless, you’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s take a look at a few of the most desirable fly fishing locations in Vermont.

Vermont Fishing Access Sites and Boat Launch Map

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VT - Battenkill River: 43.189720, -73.017067
VT - Lamoille River: 44.577645, -72.612087
VT - Otter Creek: 44.031395, -73.176906
VT - Winooski River: 44.492541, -73.199308
EAST BRANCH PASSUMPSIC RIVER NEAR EAST HAVEN, VT: 44.633942, -71.897594
MOOSE RIVER AT VICTORY, VT: 44.511723, -71.837314
POPE BROOK (SITE W-3) NEAR NORTH DANVILLE, VT: 44.476167, -72.124543
SLEEPERS RIVER (SITE W-5) NEAR ST. JOHNSBURY, VT: 44.435335, -72.038429
PASSUMPSIC RIVER AT PASSUMPSIC, VT: 44.365615, -72.039261
CONNECTICUT RIVER AT WELLS RIVER, VT: 44.153397, -72.041758
WELLS RIVER AT WELLS RIVER, VT: 44.150341, -72.065091
EAST ORANGE BRANCH AT EAST ORANGE, VT: 44.092842, -72.335653
OMPOMPANOOSUC RIVER AT UNION VILLAGE, VT: 43.790070, -72.254813
AYERS BROOK AT RANDOLPH, VT: 43.934510, -72.657882
WHITE RIVER AT WEST HARTFORD, VT: 43.714236, -72.418149
OTTAUQUECHEE RIVER NEAR WEST BRIDGEWATER, VT: 43.622291, -72.758990
OTTAUQUECHEE RIVER AT NORTH HARTLAND, VT: 43.602571, -72.354258
BLACK RIVER AT NORTH SPRINGFIELD, VT: 43.333407, -72.514813
WILLIAMS RIVER NEAR ROCKINGHAM VT: 43.191743, -72.485089
SAXTONS RIVER AT SAXTONS RIVER, VT: 43.137578, -72.488144
WEST RIVER BELOW WINHALL RIVER, NEAR JAMAICA, VT: 43.156944, -72.797778
WEST RIVER AT JAMAICA, VT: 43.108967, -72.775374
WEST RIVER BELOW TOWNSHEND DAM NEAR TOWNSHEND, VT: 43.051190, -72.700094
WALLOOMSAC RIVER NEAR NORTH BENNINGTON, VT: 42.912856, -73.256498
POULTNEY RIVER BELOW FAIR HAVEN, VT: 43.624232, -73.311501
OTTER CREEK AT CENTER RUTLAND, VT: 43.603679, -73.013163
OTTER CREEK AT MIDDLEBURY, VT: 44.013115, -73.167895
NEW HAVEN RIVER @ BROOKSVILLE, NR MIDDLEBURY, VT: 44.061725, -73.170674
LITTLE OTTER CREEK AT FERRISBURG, VT.: 44.198110, -73.249012
LEWIS CREEK AT NORTH FERRISBURG, VT.: 44.249220, -73.228457
LAPLATTE RIVER AT SHELBURNE FALLS, VT.: 44.370051, -73.216237
WINOOSKI RIVER @ US2, BLW STEVENS BR, NR MONTPELIER VT: 44.245556, -72.548889
NORTH BRANCH WINOOSKI RIVER AT WRIGHTSVILLE, VT: 44.299503, -72.578721
NORTH BRANCH WINOOSKI RIVER AT MONTPELIER, VT: 44.260893, -72.575943
WINOOSKI RIVER AT MONTPELIER, VT: 44.256726, -72.593443
DOG RIVER AT NORTHFIELD FALLS, VT: 44.182561, -72.640666
MAD RIVER NEAR MORETOWN, VT: 44.277280, -72.742616
WINOOSKI RIVER ABOVE CROSSETT BROOK AT WATERBURY,VT: 44.328436, -72.746181
W BRANCH LITTLE RIVER ABV BINGHAM FALLS NEAR STOWE, VT: 44.523386, -72.771789
RANCH BROOK AT RANCH CAMP, NEAR STOWE, VT: 44.503941, -72.781788
LITTLE RIVER NEAR WATERBURY, VT: 44.370333, -72.768730
WINOOSKI RIVER NEAR ESSEX JUNCTION, VT: 44.478939, -73.138738
LAMOILLE RIVER AT JOHNSON, VT: 44.622829, -72.676231
LAMOILLE RIVER AT JEFFERSONVILLE, VT: 44.644167, -72.836111
LAMOILLE RIVER AT EAST GEORGIA, VT: 44.679215, -73.072637
MILL RIVER AT GEORGIA SHORE RD, NR ST ALBANS, VT: 44.779767, -73.143747
STEVENS BROOK AT KELLOGG ROAD, NEAR ST. ALBANS, VT: 44.848611, -73.104167
JEWETT BROOK AT VT 38, NEAR ST. ALBANS, VT: 44.856111, -73.150833
MISSISQUOI RIVER NEAR NORTH TROY, VT: 44.972823, -72.385386
MISSISQUOI RIVER NEAR EAST BERKSHIRE, VT: 44.960046, -72.696521
MISSISQUOI RIVER AT SWANTON, VT: 44.916709, -73.128465
ROCK RIVER NEAR HIGHGATE CENTER, VT: 44.963056, -72.991944
PIKE RIVER AT EAST FRANKLIN, NR ENOSBURG FALLS, VT: 45.002822, -72.833469
BLACK RIVER AT COVENTRY, VT: 44.868936, -72.270104
BARTON RIVER NEAR COVENTRY, VT: 44.871389, -72.200556
CLYDE RIVER AT NEWPORT, VT: 44.940324, -72.189268
Amherst Lake: 43.490444, -72.707821
Ansel Pond: 43.836918, -72.617048
Baker Pond (Brookfield): 44.069823, -72.634650
Bald Hill Pond: 44.736458, -71.973617
Barton River: 44.722352, -72.185675
Barton River (Coventry Station): 44.871607, -72.200234
Batten Kill River (Red Mill): 43.105997, -73.258426
Batten Kill River (Wagon Wheel): 43.097605, -73.141355
Batten Kill River (Waterworks Bridge): 43.076568, -73.156761
Bean Pond: 44.695964, -72.082528
Berlin Pond: 44.207970, -72.582540
Big Salem Lake (David H Wood): 44.920889, -72.098771
Black Pond: 43.704172, -73.227730
Breese Pond: 43.715785, -73.215244
Bristol Pond: 44.181918, -73.099830
Brownington Pond: 44.879748, -72.151490
Buck Lake: 44.467148, -72.396633
Bullhead Pond: 43.210640, -73.016736
Burr Pond: 43.768447, -73.182391
C.C.C. Pond: 43.816271, -72.392464
Center Pond: 44.714463, -71.922507
Charcoal Creek: 44.970176, -73.181220
Chittenden Reservoir: 43.723228, -72.921059
Clark's Pond: 44.646083, -72.202332
Clyde River (Brighton): 44.801699, -71.914926
Clyde River (Charleston): 44.827623, -71.973941
Coits Pond: 44.443872, -72.325293
Colby Pond: 43.473609, -72.665210
Colton Pond: 43.696674, -72.815810
Connecticut River (Hoyts Landing): 43.260628, -72.430158
Connecticut River (North Thetford): 43.841338, -72.183502
Connecticut River (Old Ferry Road): 42.893154, -72.536110
Connecticut River (Putney Landing): 42.961670, -72.520875
Connecticut River (Dummerston): 42.957458, -72.527360
Connecticut River (Francis John Smith): 44.774560, -71.595960
Connecticut River (Haverill Bridge): 44.066588, -72.051760
Crystal Lake: 44.719340, -72.145854
Curtis Pond: 44.376540, -72.500663
Daniels Pond: 44.674234, -72.257182
Dead Creek: 44.084982, -73.345261
Derby Pond: 44.958678, -72.122223
Dufresne Pond (Dam): 43.179120, -73.030190
Dufresne Pond: 43.181734, -73.024149
East Creek (Access 2): 43.790772, -73.315325
East Creek (Access 1): 43.801544, -73.318102
Echo Lake (Plymouth): 43.475559, -72.702936
Echo Lake (Charleston): 44.851301, -71.989848
Ewell Pond: 44.360891, -72.167891
Fairfield Swamp: 44.788250, -72.998092
Fosters Pond: 44.329445, -72.214650
Gale Meadows Pond: 43.167744, -72.864683
Great Averill Pond: 44.994806, -71.706031
Greenwood Lake (Gordon (PeeWee) Wing): 44.683580, -72.362190
Greenwood Lake: 44.455059, -72.420473
Hardwick Lake: 44.535792, -72.373562
Harvey Lake: 44.284035, -72.139420
Holland Pond: 44.985766, -71.934435
Horse Pond: 44.615739, -72.209439
Hortonia Lake (Dam): 43.745648, -73.221925
Hortonia Lake: 43.752379, -73.210708
Island Pond: 44.792757, -71.866359
Job's Pond: 44.760264, -71.952233
Joe's Pond: 44.403617, -72.218320
Keiser Pond: 44.384648, -72.170725
Kent Pond: 43.674807, -72.807943
Kent Pond (Shorefishing Platform): 43.675272, -72.799417
Knapp Pond (Access 1): 43.445372, -72.562106
Knapp Pond (Access 2): 43.445915, -72.566078
Lake Bomoseen (Thomas Evanoika): 43.674076, -73.201194
Lake Bomoseen (Kehoe): 43.630439, -73.233226
Lake Carmi: 44.990160, -72.871260
Lake Champlain (Dillenbeck Bay): 44.916320, -73.275992
Lake Champlain (Fort Cassin): 44.221753, -73.315873
Lake Champlain (Holcomb Bay): 44.854871, -73.331855
Lake Champlain (Horicans): 44.913874, -73.313612
Lake Champlain (Keeler Bay): 44.667811, -73.320530
Lake Champlain (Kelly Bay): 44.998866, -73.331690
Lake Champlain (Kings Bay): 44.869773, -73.250611
Lake Champlain (Lapham Bay): 43.925962, -73.391884
Lake Champlain (Larrabees Point): 43.849125, -73.369471
Lake Champlain (Malletts Bay): 44.552783, -73.231617
Lake Champlain (Allen Point): 44.599619, -73.310427
Lake Champlain (Sand Bar WMA): 44.625914, -73.240399
Lake Champlain (McCuen Slang): 44.024523, -73.397953
Lake Champlain (Ed Weed): 44.689077, -73.347635
Lake Champlain (Benson Landing): 43.728439, -73.367287
Lake Champlain (Rock River): 44.988500, -73.088625
Lake Champlain (Korean War Veterans Access): 44.998765, -73.339540
Lake Champlain (Saint Albans Bay): 44.794597, -73.172283
Lake Champlain (Sand Bar Refuge): 44.623308, -73.213641
Lake Champlain (Shelburne Bay): 44.399434, -73.234843
Lake Champlain (Stephensen Point): 44.894894, -73.232797
Lake Champlain (Stoney Point): 44.871477, -73.358829
Lake Champlain (Tabor Point): 44.925375, -73.214882
JLake Champlain (ohn Guilmette): 44.637406, -73.266852
Lake Champlain (Van Everest): 44.705961, -73.209135
Lake Champlain (Vantines): 44.719598, -73.341245
Lake Champlain (Larry Greene): 44.970706, -73.211469
Lake Champlain (Mt Independence): 43.819210, -73.387376
Lake Champlain (Converse Bay): 44.294979, -73.291356
Lake Champlain (Chimney Point): 44.034485, -73.421529
Lake Champlain (Chipmans Point): 43.800555, -73.375392
Lake Champlain (North Hero Causeway): 44.885325, -73.271739
Lake Champlain (George Davis (Singing Cedars)): 43.764295, -73.342851
Lake Champlain (Colchester Point): 44.536287, -73.274744
Lake Dunmore (Magoon): 43.907100, -73.085456
Lake Eden: 44.728806, -72.495883
Lake Elligo: 44.603645, -72.357955
Lake Elmore (Vaughn M. Douglass): 44.526989, -72.521299
Lake Fairlee: 43.890511, -72.226857
Lake Iroquois: 44.377078, -73.090152
Lake Memphremagog (Johns River): 44.996128, -72.180738
Lake Memphremagog (South Bay): 44.929083, -72.213041
Lake Memphremagog (Whipple Point): 44.953942, -72.233947
Lake Morey: 43.921268, -72.159324
Lake Ninevah (Joseph Wiltshire): 43.474918, -72.760324
Lake Paran: 42.932024, -73.235174
Lake Parker: 44.726137, -72.231358
Lake Raponda: 42.883935, -72.820095
Lake Rescue: 43.455949, -72.701931
Lake Sadawga: 42.785752, -72.876763
Lake Saint Catherine: 43.444567, -73.204299
Lake Willoughby: 44.768699, -72.053413
Lamoille River (Dorothy Smith): 44.649821, -72.829809
Lamoille River (Sears): 44.604033, -73.205165
Lamoille River: 44.606168, -73.218394
Lamoille River (Upper): 44.551250, -72.478930
Lamoille River (Dog Head Falls): 44.621810, -72.678600
Lamoille River (Rotary): 44.567435, -72.549541
Lamoille River (Fisher Bridge): 44.532599, -72.427762
Lewis Creek: 44.248502, -73.274439
Lewis Creek (Tyler Bridge): 44.277270, -73.081400
Little Hosmer: 44.666383, -72.376089
Little Otter Creek (South Slang): 44.226494, -73.277563
Little Salem Lake: 44.919254, -72.099639
Long Pond (Westmore): 44.756282, -72.020122
Lower Symes Pond: 44.239773, -72.099915
Lyford Pond: 44.446753, -72.246865
Mad River (Ward): 44.290380, -72.724404
Maidstone Lake: 44.664566, -71.648957
Martins Pond: 44.304208, -72.205608
May Pond: 44.742013, -72.123210
McIntosh Pond: 43.827396, -72.483348
Mettawee River: 43.293105, -73.140690
Miles Pond: 44.446136, -71.797756
Miller Pond: 43.889693, -72.309885
Mirror Lake: 44.391321, -72.447539
Missisquoi (Babbie): 44.910340, -73.106232
Mollys Falls Reservoir (Marshfield Dam): 44.363142, -72.303200
Monkton Pond: 44.249825, -73.138440
Moose River: 44.455944, -71.868530
Mud Creek Pond: 44.967687, -73.269108
Neal Pond: 44.482563, -71.691215
Nelson Pond: 44.409836, -72.446764
New Haven River (Fishing Platform): 44.123280, -73.034220
Newark Pond: 44.723142, -71.980952
North Montpelier Pond: 44.306116, -72.446442
Norton Pond: 44.924016, -71.871365
Ompompanoosuc River: 43.755405, -72.230865
Otter Creek (Sudbury): 43.809909, -73.155212
Otter Creek (Kingsley): 44.086126, -73.246990
Otter Creek (Clarendon): 43.510950, -72.983400
Peacham Pond: 44.333568, -72.265437
Pensioner Pond: 44.877383, -72.052443
Perch Pond: 43.748897, -73.281604
Poultney River (Ward Marsh): 43.569840, -73.395750
Red Mill Pond: 42.890613, -73.028055
Richville Pond (Covered Bridge): 43.860232, -73.253239
Richville Pond: 43.871350, -73.268591
Rood Pond: 44.077861, -72.588188
Sabin Pond: 44.407413, -72.413902
Seymour Lake: 44.910449, -71.981969
Shadow Lake (Concord): 44.405843, -71.869447
Shadow Lake (Glover): 44.663710, -72.220587
Shelburne Pond: 44.377107, -73.162225
South Pond: 42.846468, -72.709859
South Stream: 42.811168, -73.177433
Spectacle Pond: 44.804178, -71.855330
Ticklenaked Pond: 44.192021, -72.096955
Valley Lake: 44.443558, -72.447080
Vernon Hatchery Pond: 42.743842, -72.500175
Waits River (Bugbee Landing): 43.996598, -72.122580
Wallace Pond: 45.010656, -71.635737
Weatherhead Hollow Pond: 42.737938, -72.614324
Wells River: 44.151350, -72.070009
West Hill Pond: 44.414180, -72.342821
White River (Foxstand): 43.823026, -72.565153
Willoughby River (Indian Pioneer Point): 44.816790, -72.203033
Willoughby River (Willoughby Falls): 44.811854, -72.193900
Winooski River (Heineberg Bridge): 44.525559, -73.256524
Wolcott Pond: 44.566514, -72.427099
Woodward Reservoir: 43.572258, -72.762132

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Best Places to Fish in Vermont

Depending upon the level of challenge you’re looking for in your angling experience, you have a number of choices that will take you to striking locations, each with their own quirks and requirements.

Battenkill (Batten Kill) River

This 59 mile stretch of water begins in East Dorset, VT and meanders across the state and into New York, with its mouth at the Hudson River. It is known for its unique challenges, requiring anglers to stick to stringent fishing practices in order to avoid scaring away the wise, native brook and brown trout. These fish are all wild, and the larger ones have lived long enough to have experience with virtually every fly and technique known to fishermen.

There are public access points, particularly along routes 61 and 313, but rumor has it that landowners along this freestone stream are generally friendly and willing to let a bug chucker try their hand on private property. If you’re feeling bold, knock on a door or two and you might just get lucky. If you’re not so sure about going this route, you can use public access points like the Waterworks Bridge, Red Mill, or Wagon Wheel.

So what makes these waters so fussy for fishing enthusiasts? The current at the bank is slower than in the middle, so drag can pose a problem. There is a high ratio of catch and release in the Batten Kill, so the larger browns become well-educated in the art of dodging the angler. Something as innocuous as casting your shadow the wrong way can alert the fish to an intruder – never mind if you’re sloppy in your wading movements. To add to the difficulty, hatches are unique to the area and the fish are very finicky about insect pattern. Local experts recommend matching the seasonal hatch as closely as possible to up your chances of success.

The Battenkill, despite its intimidating factors, is still a favorite fly fishing destination in Vermont, and if nothing else the scenery is almost worth the trip just on its own. With clear pools and riffles throughout, surrounded by picturesque meadows filled with hemlock, it’s a sight that’s tough to beat. And for the bug chucker who thrives on a good contest, the Batten Kill is the ideal foe.

Mettawee River

Based in the Green Mountains near Dorset, this freestone stream runs for 16 miles in Vermont before passing into New York. The surrounding dairy farms make this a scenic location to cast your line, while the waters are home to brown and rainbow trout, with browns being stocked in the lower portion by the state.

The main access points for the Mettawee can be found along state highway 30, at bridges and one official access point. Again, feel free to ask farmers for permission to use their land, as the people have a reputation for being exceptionally easy-going.

With moderate currents, and plenty of long riffles and pool, this river is a pleasant and popular fishing spot. Your best bet is to find a place where it meets up with a tributary, as the waters are colder and if trout love anything, it’s frigid water.

Clyde River

If you’re gunning for salmon, the Clyde is for you. You’ll find these critters in the mile and a half section between Lake Memphremagog and the Clyde Pond Dam. Go above the dam and enjoy a 35-mile stretch that houses brown trout. Travel to the Pherrins River, a tributary of the Clyde, and you’ll find lucrative brook trout angling – the brooks here can reach a hefty three pounds.

Along the Clyde you’ll enjoy a variety of conditions, including riffles, pools, pockets with conflicting currents, and deep runs. Due to the surrounding ponds and lakes, plus the tributaries, the water types differ depending upon where you are. This variety has its drawbacks, however, as you’ll need to carry a wide selection of flies and gear unless you plan to stay in one spot.

Best Time to Fish in Vermont

Fishing season is Vermont is restricted to the time period between mid-April and late October in some areas, so you’ll want to check the regulations for your specific destination. There is no closed season for trout and landlocked salmon on Lake Champlain, or for rainbow smelt anywhere. Catch and release for smallmouth and largemouth bass on Lake Champlain runs from December 1 through June 10, and April 9 to June 10 everywhere else.

From April to mid-May nymphs are a great way to go. Mid-May to the first of July is ripe for hatches of Caddis and Mayflies, and dry flies yield decent trout opportunities. Summertime means the East Coast’s cold mountain streams give up wild trout, making it ideal for the beginning angler. As fall approaches, some skill and patience will be required as the water is still quite warm, but further into fall the fish start to bite prolifically again, offering the chance to enjoy the stunning foliage while you cast your line.

If the Battenkill is your destination, spring and fall are your best bet. While the trout are picky during this time, the hatches are plentiful which means better chances of success. Summer is not ideal on the Battenkill but skilled fishermen who want to hone their expert techniques may find this an invigorating challenge.

Vermont Fishing Tips

Due to the incredibly wide variety of water and weather conditions you may encounter, you’ll want to bring plenty of typical gear – waders, rain poncho, first aid kit, and of course snacks for yourself. As for your actual fishing gear, plan on:

  • 4, 5, or 6 weight rod for trout and 6 to 8 for salmon
  • Leaders of 9 and 12 feet with 5X or 6X tippet for dry fly, 7.5 feet with 3X or 4X tippet for nymphing, and 0-2X for streamers
  • Accessories – forceps, nippers, retractors, etc.

You’ll want a large selection of fly patterns as well – nymphs, streamers, minnows, pheasant tails, eggs, parachutes, and gnats. The more you can carry the better, particularly on the Battenkill where hatches can be specific and the fish are fussy about patterns.

There are plenty of fly fishing guide services in Vermont, and places to get custom-tied flies that closely match the local hatches, so do some research before your trip so you can get hooked up with the right resources when you’re ready to stock up.

Vermont Fishing Regulations

Fishing licenses are available through the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. A resident license is $26, and non-resident $51. You can also choose a five-year license for $124 and $249 respectively. Non-residents may choose a one-, three-, or 7-day fishing license for $21, $23, and $31. Children under age 15 do not require a license, and prices for youth licenses (ages 15-17) are $8 for residents and $15 for non-residents. Vermont residents may purchase a lifetime fishing license, but this can only be done at the Montpelier office. Other licenses may be purchased online. Vermont hosts a free fishing day in mid-June as well, which gives the beginner a great chance to dip their toes in the water, so to speak, before committing to a full license fee.

Vermont Fishing Has Much To Offer

Whether you’re a novice or an expert with years of fly fishing under your belt, Vermont has much to offer. On top of the native brook and brown trout, salmon add variety into the mix and the landscapes are absolutely breathtaking.