Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
We're a network of Vermont Chefs, Farmers, Food Artisans, and Diners.

FishOn! Background 2017

Lake Champlain Basic Statistics 

Size of the Lake: 120 miles (193 km) long and 400 feet (122 m) deep

Lake Segments: The Lake is divided into five distinct areas, each with different physical
and chemical characteristics and water quality. These lake segments include: the South
Lake, the Main Lake (or Broad Lake), Malletts Bay, the Inland Sea (or Northeast Arm), and
Missisquoi Bay.

Area of the Basin: 8,234 sq. miles (21,326 sq. kms). Ninety percent of the water that enters
Lake Champlain flows through the Lake's drainage basin before it reaches the Lake.
Land Distribution of the Basin: 56% of the Basin is in Vermont, 37% is in New York, and
7% is in the Province of Quebec.

Today’s Fishery

Construct of fishery: Lake Champlain and its tributaries currently contain 91 species of
fishes, of which 15 are non-native. More details are provided on this chart.

Sport Fishing: More than 25 of the 91 species in Champlain the Basin are commonly pursued
by anglers. For information on daily limits, seasons, methods and size rules, please
reference the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

Commercial Fishing: Currently, commercial harvest in the U.S. waters of Lake Champlain consists
solely of the sale of fish caught by hook and line angling or by licensed bait dealers.
Commercial fishing is limited to select species; several popular game fish are prohibited
from commercial sales.

Sale and Purchase of Lake Champlain Fish: Businesses may buy lawfully taken fish, with
the approval of the Commissioner, pursuant to guidelines of the Board. Fish species to be
bought or sold are restricted to species not protected by Title 10 V.S.A. 4611 – “A person
shall not buy or sell a salmon, trout, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge or
black bass taken in the state, or imported from another state or country where sale of such
fish is prohibited. The exception to the rule are for the purpose of a game supper
authorized by a permit, or when the fish are reared in licensed propagation farms within
the state. “  

Commercial Species: Common commercial species include freshwater drum, white perch,
yellow perch, sunfish/pumpkinseed, carp, and bluegill.

Commercial Volume: Annual estimates fluctuate from 200,000 to 745,000 lbs. One local
fish distributor estimates 500,000 lbs of Vermont fish sold through their business in 2016.

Market: The majority - up to 70% - of the commercially-caught fish are being sold to markets in New York, Boston, and Canada. 

Consumption Advisories

Mercury: As with fish from any large waters, there are consumption guidelines for Lake
Champlain fish. These guidelines are not markedly different from those from any other
waters. People should be aware of the guidelines, but not be any more averse to eating
Lake Champlain fish than fish from anywhere else.  

Nutrient Pollutants: There is no current evidence that nutrient pollution, and the
cyanobacteria outbreaks causes by excess nutrients, have any effect on the edibility of fish
in Lake Champlain. 

Website Fact Sheet: Vermont Fish and Wildlife - Eat Your Catch

Vermont Department of Health: Healthy Recreational Waters

Department of Environmental Conservation: Mercury Scorecard and ocean fish verses
Lake Champlain fish health advisories 

Printable Fish Advisory Scorecard


Eat/serve Lake Champlain Fish. The health advisories of Lake Champlain fish are similar or
less severe than the fish you purchase from the oceans.

Encourage your markets to source Lake Champlain fish. Ray’s Seafood is a retail market
and distributor of Lake Champlain fish.

Know the facts and share. Talk about the positives and the negatives of Lake Champlain
fish consumptions with the people around you.

This is our lake, our water, our fishery and our food source to take care of - we are the
problem and the solution.

Thank you to Flavor Plate for donating their time and effort to the design and co-development of our website.