Winooski Fish Lift Open

The fish lift at the Winooski One hydroelectric facility on the Winooski River is now operating for the spring season, providing expanded fishing opportunities for anglers.

Winooski Fish Lift


Springtime operation of the fish lift on the Winooski River, which begins in March and extends through mid-May, is a collaborative initiative focusing on moving steelhead rainbow trout above the Winooski One Dam and into the next section of the river.

“Lifted steelhead are released into the 1.3 mile section of river above the Winooski Dam and below the next dam, also known as Gorge 18… The Winooski River provides key habitat for a number of Lake Champlain fish species at various times during the year and we do our best to protect fish at sensitive times while also providing quality angling opportunities where we can. It’s definitely a balancing act, but one that is important to the lake, its fisheries and to anglers.” ~ Nick Staats, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In an effort to protect spawning walleye and endangered lake sturgeon, fishing is not allowed between March 16 and May 31 on the section of the Winooski River below the Winooski Dam downstream to the first railroad bridge.


Winooski Fish Lift Open

The Winooski One Hydroelectric dam would have blocked spawning fish. A fish elevator was installed beside the Winooski Falls dam to help Winooski River fish get upstream to spawn. This elevator allows the fish to be transported beyond the two dams in existence further up the river. The fish are lured into a narrow compartment at the base of the dam; the water rushing through this compartment looks like a stream. The fish travelling upstream to spawn swim into this compartment and are unable to find a way out. The fish are raised by the elevator to the upper level of the Winooski River where they can spawn.


Winooski Fish Lift = Fishing Opportunites

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Burlington Electric Department and Green Mountain Power, operate the fish lift to assist steelhead with their natural spring migration and also to increase angling opportunities on the stretch of river above the Winooski Dam that is open to fishing.

“Lifting steelhead above the Winooski Dam gives anglers the opportunity to fish for them in a section of the river that is legally open to angling. That being said, this is on a catch-and-release basis using artificial lures or flies only, until April 11 when Vermont’s traditional trout season opens up. After that, anglers are allowed to fish with natural baits and keep up to six steelhead per day.” ~ Brian Chipman, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

The Winooski River is stocked annually with 20,000, 7 to 8-inch steelhead, in addition to 30,000 yearling salmon.

Additionally, anglers also have the chance to catch any landlocked Atlantic salmon that may still be in the upper sections of the Winooski River as a result of last fall’s spawning run.

  • As a reminder, anglers can visit to access the 2015 Vermont Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws and Guide that includes maps showing lakes and streams as well as fishing access areas and public lands.
  • The guide lists the fish species found in each body of water and includes the state’s fishing regulations. Copies are also available where fishing licenses are sold.