Is It Legal To Shoot a Fish?

Recorded April 21, 2021

Is it legal to shoot a fish? Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN to help explain.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s Collective Soul with Shine. Def Leppard and Rock of Ages before that. I’m Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday “Rocking Ride Home,” and I’m joined now by Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So listen, Ben. I got a weird question for you. No context and you can’t ask me why. I just need you to answer this question for me. Ready?

Ben: I’m ready.

Joe: Can I shoot a fish?

Ben: Can you shoot a fish?

Joe: Let’s say I’m out on the lake and a very tasty trout swims by and I don’t have a fishing pole, but I do have a gun on me. Can I shoot that fish or am I gonna get into trouble for that?

Ben: Well, so the short answer is yes. You will get into trouble for that unless, unless…

Joe: Unless? There’s an “unless”? Wow.

Ben: …you are on Lake Champlain on the Vermont side between March 25th and May 25th. So if you are fishing in Vermont on Lake Champlain, you know that’s the Vermont side, you are able to use firearms to, I guess, fish. You can shoot a fish. I don’t know if it’s hunting or fishing, but it’s nicer than, I think, angling. But yes, in Vermont, you are allowed to shoot fish. And there are other states that allow this as well, to some extent, with exceptions. But it seems that Vermont is one of, maybe, two states that I know of that do allow you to basically shoot a fish that’s swimming by your boat if you’re on Lake Champlain. But again, there is a timeframe in which you can do that, and that’s between March 25th and May 25th.

Joe: So that’s right now.

Ben: And, by the way, you don’t necessarily have to be on a boat. Right, yeah, right now. So if you are observing fishermen, you know, up on a bough in a boat with a 12-gauge shooting carp, they’re allowed to do it until May 25th. And now, what I wanted to mention to your listeners if they’re, you know, loading up their ammo and heading towards Lake Champlain, you should be aware of the fact that Lake Champlain has several spheres of jurisdiction. There’s Vermont, there’s New York, and then there’s the federal waterways. So if you are on the Vermont half of the lake, you’re fine. If you travel onto the New York half of the lake, you are not okay.

Joe: No rights.

Ben: The other thing I wanted to mention is that shooting fish under the Vermont statute, to my understanding, and I’m no expert in this area, but does not apply to other lakes, tributaries, rivers, any other kind of waterway.

Joe: You can’t go onto the Winooski River and do it?

Ben: Right. You’re gonna be, probably, sighted before that happens.

Joe: Yes, yes. I would imagine so. Well, there you go, and don’t ever ask me why I asked you that question, Ben. I’m telling you right now.

Ben: It’s a very odd question, Joe, but fire away.

Joe: Right. Thank you very much. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks for coming on, Ben.

Ben: Thanks for that unusual question, Joe. Have a good day.

Joe: And remember, you can call Ben at any time at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to Now, Allen takes over. It’s your music from Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses next.

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