Local News, Sports

Fishing is hot in Vermont’s cool spring waters, anglers are out

Master Angler Program’s annual report shows record participation.

Vermont’s wealth of waters and abundant fish populations provide many opportunities to experience outstanding fishing. The Vermont Master Angler Program recognizes the achievements of anglers who catch trophy-sized fish from Vermont waters and celebrates the clean water and healthy habitats that allow these fish to survive and grow to exceptional sizes.

Courtesy VTF&W
Vermont’s Master Angler Program set a new participation record in 2021 with 1,169 entries and 73 award recipients, 17 of whom were youth anglers. The vast majority were Vermonters (94%) but visitor’s from 10 other states joined in as well.

Last month, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department released the Vermont Master Angler Program 2021 annual report with a record 1,169 entries and 73 Master Angler award recipients.

The Vermont Master Angler program is a length-based program that sets “trophy sized” benchmarks for 33 eligible fish species.

While these trophy-sized fish are a challenge to catch, they are attainable for anglers that develop the necessary knowledge and skills. Anglers catching a fish exceeding the minimum qualifying length in any of the 33 species categories can receive a certificate commemorating their catch. Their names and catches are also included in the Vermont Master Angler annual report posted annually on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website.

Anglers demonstrating the skill necessary to catch multiple species that all exceed the minimum qualifying lengths in the same calendar year are recognized as “Vermont Master Anglers” and receive a unique one-of-a-kind lapel pin at the end of the year. To qualify for the annual Vermont Master Angler Pin, an angler must submit qualifying entries for five or more species within a calendar year.

Another record year
2021 was another record year for the program, with 1,169 entries approved, 332 of which were from youth anglers. There were also 73 Vermont Master Angler award recipients in 2021, 17 of which were youth anglers. Youth anglers have a slightly lower minimum qualifying length for each species.

While 94% (1,093) of the entries were submitted by Vermont anglers, the program also saw participation by non-resident anglers from 10 other states: Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia.

“We were surprised to see another record year for the program in 2021, especially since we set a record the previous year, too,” said state fisheries biologist Shawn Good. “I’m hoping it’s because Vermonters who discovered fishing and the Master Angler Program during the 2020 Covid pandemic continued fishing and enjoying the program in 2021.”

Good said that the program provides the department with information on big fish throughout the state and helps promote the many diverse fishing opportunities that Vermont has to offer.

“One of the best things about this program is that it provides some families with a little extra incentive to get outside and enjoy some quality time together on the water,” he added.

The 2021 Vermont Master Angler Program Annual Report is on Fish and Wildlife’s website at: vtfishandwildlife.com/fish/fishing-events-and-programs/master-angler-program. You can also search by species and body of water to see trophy catches from the past decade plus!

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