APRIL 13, 2020

Vermont: FWD Answers Questions on Social Distancing

Can We Still Go Fishing?

This is the number one question the department has been getting. Everyone is worried that their favorite pastime is off limits right now. Fishing season is not canceled.

The most recent amendment to Governor Scott's Stay Home, Stay Safe order continues to exempt outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, for health and exercise. Yes – you can go outside and go fishing. It’s a healthy outdoor activity – good for your mind, body, and soul. After all, we need a reprieve from the stresses we’ve all been under, and fishing is a proven stress-reliever.

Are Boat Ramps Open?

Yes! All the department’s nearly 200 fishing access areas remain open for public use and enjoyment. These include boat ramps, canoe and kayak put-ins, fishing platforms, and streambank parcels. One thing you may find upon arrival is that docks and portable toilets haven’t been installed yet, and normal spring maintenance clean-up isn’t done. These are unfortunately on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Has Trout Stocking Been Canceled?

No, definitely not. Department fisheries staff have been hard at work this spring stocking trout and salmon in waters around the state. As a matter of fact, Lake Champlain stocking was completed before the end of March, lake and pond stocking is underway right now, and stream stocking will be ramping up soon.

Check the Fish Stocking Schedule online to see what’s been stocked. Just remember to change the search filter from “Scheduled Stockings” to “Completed Stockings.” Also don’t forget, there are hundreds of streams around the state that provide excellent wild trout fishing opportunities too.

What If I Don’t Live in Vermont?

Unfortunately, this is where things deviate a little for now. Governor Scott’s recent amendment to his Stay Home, Stay Safe order directs non-residents not come to Vermont unless they are part of the essential services exemption. If non-residents do come to Vermont, the order requires them to self-quarantine for 14 days before engaging in any activity including outdoor recreation.

While this isn’t great news for the many non-residents who enjoy all Vermont fishing has to offer, we hope you keep Vermont in mind once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. All our excellent and exciting fishing opportunities will be waiting for you.

I Plan on Going Fishing. What Sort of Precautions Should I Take?

This is a good question. While we’re encouraging Vermonters to go fishing for your own mental health and physical well-being, there are some things you should do to stay healthy and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 while you’re out there.

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.fishing distance graphic
  • Only fish with immediate family members you live with in the same household. These are people you are already in close contact with every day, so risk is minimal.
  • Take the kids and have an adventure. They need the stress relief just as much as we do.
  • Fish close to home and limit your travel. The official recommendation is somewhere less than 10 miles from your home. This will reduce the likelihood you’ll need to stop on the way to or from your fishing site, which increases the risk of exposure.
  • If you arrive at a fishing location and find it crowded, move on. Avoid crowding at popular shore fishing spots. Use this as an opportunity to explore new waters. Find your own isolated place.
  • If fishing from shore, keep a distance of at least six feet (about one fishing pole length) between you and others.
  • If fishing from a boat, practice good launching etiquette. Give others time and space while launching and retrieving boats to avoid close contact with others.
  • Don’t share fishing gear. Each angler should have their own.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.
  • Leash your dog! They are members of your household and need to keep their social distance as well.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after fishing. If unavailable, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Engage in low-risk activities. Now is not the time to try something extreme and end up in the hospital, taxing an already overloaded health care system.

For more information and up-to-date-news visit COVID-19 and outdoor recreation.

Check out our fishing opportunities webpage for ideas on finding a fishing location near you.