Connecticut fly fishing opportunities include saltwater fishing for striped bass, bluefish and albacore along the coast. The Housatonic River and Farmington River also provide great dry fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout, and smallmouth fishing in warmer months.
The Housatonic River is in Northwestern Connecticut and flows out of the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. This river is a tremendous trout fishery, and is considered by many as one of the best in the eastern half of the United States. A 10.4-mile stretch of Trout Management, together with a stretch of Fly Fishing Only water, offer a large number of holdover fish in the 14- to 18-inch range. And many 18-plus-inch class fish are caught here each year!
The northern reaches of the Housatonic in Massachusetts are comprised of the East and Southwest branches. The Southwest Branch begins at Richmond Pond near the town of Pittsfield. This section of river runs through urban surroundings, but has some beautiful, slow-moving water. Consistent hatches of Mayflies and Caddis, accompanied by good stocking, make this section very good for early-season fishing. Access to this section of the river is limited to bridges and areas close to US Route 20. Lebanon Avenue and Chapel Street provide some access, since they parallel the river for a few of the upper miles.
The East Branch of the Housatonic begins near the town of Hinsdale as a small, swampy stream. This section is difficult to fish because of its size and brushy banks. The boggy bottom and abundance of overhanging vegetation will test the casting and wading skills of any fisherman. This challenging angling keeps pressure to a minimum, enabling many trout to hold over.
Hinsdale Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) provides fishermen with great access to the river. Below the WMA, MA 8 parallels the river again, giving fishermen access. Thanks to the easy access and variety of water, this section attracts many anglers.
At West Cornwall, the Trout Management Area (TMA) begins near Route 112 and Route 7, and runs downstream to Route 7 and Route 4.
This is the most popular 10.4-mile stretch of river, and usually is the section people reference when they speak of the “Housy.” The beginning of the TMA, well above the covered bridge in West Cornwall, is made up of long, deep, slow pools followed by short riffles and runs. Here, the bottom of the river consists of mostly silt. Keeping that in mind, the Green Drake hatch (silt dwelling bug) is one you should look for from mid- to late-May. Approximately a mile above the covered bridge, the river begins to run fast and swift. The best way to access the TMA, above the covered bridge, is from the eastern side of the river. There are several dirt roads that will help you get to the river. Below the covered bridge in West Cornwall, the river picks up speed, and has large pools, beautiful pocket water, and runs. This is a big river that is very capable of holding many trout, and also can be dangerous to wade, at times. Fishing the pockets with nymphs can be extremely productive, especially in times of high water. Large trout up to 18-plus inches are frequently caught in this fashion. Throughout the TMA, there are several named pools — actually too many to list. You can pick up a good map at one of the fly shops in the area; it will assist you in your venture. Some of the noteworthy pools are The Elms, Garbage Hole, Carse, Monument, One Car, Two Car, and Church pools. All of these pools, plus many others that we haven’t listed here, are very dynamic and enticing. The Trout Management Area ends at the Route 4 Bridge.
Below Route 4, the fishing becomes less accessible and less productive due to the shallower pools and a lack of cool water. At times, the river can run very high because of a nearby hydroelectric dam. Water temperatures also vary greatly, and you should monitor them before you head out to this part of the Housatonic. During periods of high release water, it’s a good idea to fish the pockets and eddies with nymphs. Usually the water is shut down in the afternoon, so levels subside for the evening hatch. If the water is high when you arrive, don’t be intimidated; just be patient and fish the banks as noted earlier. You may find that it’s very worthwhile.
Hatches on the Housatonic are very diverse. A large number of Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddis are available in these waters. Check the Hatch Chart, and call a fly shop located along the river for more specific information.
For some good fishing, try the Housatonic in Western Connecticut.
The Deerfield River
The Deerfield River, located in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, is fed by the cool waters of the Fife Dam reservoir. The dam marks the up-stream beginning of the upper catch-and-release area terminating above the Mohawk bridge in the lower catch-and-release area. The entire river, including the no-kill section, is stocked annually throughout the early spring and summer with rainbows in the 14 to 20 inch class. Adding more variety are colorful native brookies. Because Massachusetts has no closed fishing season, impatient anglers can try their luck as soon as melting ice permits access to the river.
The Farmington River
The Farmington River is the foremost, full season, trout stream in Connecticut. As the river enters Connecticut from Massachusetts, the west branch begins its southward journey from the Colebrook and West Branch reservoirs. The water release is from the bottom of the dam, ensuring cool water temperatures for its tail waters and makes trout fishing last through the heat of the summer.
As it leaves the dam, the Farmington passes through the near-wilderness areas of Connecticut. One mile above where Route 318 crosses the river is the start of the “Trout Management Area”, which extends for 4 miles. This stretch is open year round, where all fish must be returned to the water unharmed.
The West Branch of the Farmington River in northcentral Connecticut is a tremendous tailwater fishery. Cold water from the Colebrook and West Branch reservoirs help make this river an excellent year-round trout fishery. It is well stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. And you’ll find good numbers of wild and holdover browns and rainbows to 18-plus inches thriving in the cool waters.
The upper portion of the West Branch of the Farmington, from the Hogback Dam to the Still River by Riverton, is a beautiful piece of gin-clear water with deep, flat pools broken up by classic riffles and runs. There are good numbers of large fish. The water depth is deceiving, due to its clarity, and fishing here could surprisingly produce a lunker. Trout as large as 20-plus inches have been caught here, and fish up to 15-plus inches are caught reegularly. On the east side of the river, Hogback and East River roads parallel the river, so there are plenty of areas to park and walk down to the water.
From the spot the Still River enters the West Branch to a mile above the crossing of Route 318, the West Branch develops more character. With the help of the Still River, this piece of water has a better population of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies.
Here the river widens and acquires more sediment from the Still River which, in turn, provides more nutrients for the invertabrates. Fishing on the West Branch, below the Still River, usually is a little more productive than the section above. It also has deep, mysterious pools followed by charming pockets, riffles and runs. Flowing through areas with overhanging hemlocks, this section of river has exceptional pools and runs that harbor impressive numbers of trout–many of which are large. Here the West Branch can be accessed by East River and West River roads, which parallel the river on both sides.
A mile above Route 318, at the crossing of a power wire, marks the beginning of a trout management area. The trout management area starts at the power wire in Pleasant Valley and extends downriver approximately four miles to the upriver side of the Route 219 bridge. This area is one of the more popular sections of river. Holdover, wild and annually-stocked trout abound. To entice anglers of all skill, this section offers many large fish, as well as newly stocked fish. This part of the river has very deep, slow pools, along with tumbling runs and pocket water. For the most part, the river is lined with trees that provide shade and, even at times when the sun is high, good dry-fly fishing. This area is accessible from Route 44 and Route 181, and other secondary roads.
From Route 219 south to Collinsville, the river is still a tremendous trout fishery. Here the river offers anglers many areas of exceptional pocket water, runs and pools. Large trout lurk in this section of river, always raising the hopes of anglers’ catching a real trophy. The water remains relatively cool from the cold water releases, although you should keep in mind that the farther downstream you venture, the warmer you’ll find the water temperatures. The East Branch of the Farmington enters the river here, just south of New Hartford. Rainbows and browns hide throughout this section, mostly in pockets created by rocks and boulders. You can gain access to this part of the river via Route 44 and the secondary roads that parallel or cross its course. Below Collinsville, the river begins to change to a warmwater fishery. The river begins to slow. It is so distant from the coldwater source that it cannot remain cool enough to support the numbers of trout found north of this section. You’ll find a few trout here, but most anglers fish for bass, panfish, and other warmwater species. The river turns north at Farmington and eventually flows into the Connecticut River.
Hatches on the West Branch of the Farmington are excellent. Cold flows year round support good numbers of mayflies, Ccaddisflies, and stoneflies. You’ll find fantastic early-season hatches from April to late May: Early black stones, hendricksons, bluewinged olives, and blue quills are a few of the earliest hatches. Sulphurs, March Browns, and green drakes represent some of the fantastic dry-fly action through May. Late summer dry-fly fishing is best accomplished using extremely light tippets and midges. You’ll also find an abundance of larger mayflies that also hatch on the river. A good population of terrestrials, such as flying ants and beetles, also can be found here during the summer months. For fall fishing, olives and Isonycias usually produce best. And fishing nymphs and streamers is always productive.
The West Branch of the Farmington is a great river that flows through beautiful Connecticut surroundings. It offers anglers diverse water and great fishing opportunities. Its flows are usually very consistent, so you can plan your trip to this river well in advance. Why not take a trip to northcentral Connecticut and give the West Branch of the Farmington a try? Most anglers who are new to this river are glad they did.
Access is limited in the upper parts of the river, but it is good on almost the rest of the river. The river is stocked annually with both Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout. Recently some Atlantic Salmon have been stocked as well. One of the most enjoyable things about this river is the wide open, completely wadable water you see when you get there. The water flow is controlled by the Scotland Dam a couple of miles upstream from Baltic. Some caution is advised while fishing/wading here.
- Nymphs – Woolybuggers, Hare’s ear, Pheasant Tail, Brassie, Hellgrammites, all work well here.
- Caddis – This is the best all around fly for this river. You will need all colors and all stages. Sizes range from a 20 to a 12. Emergers work especially well here.
- Mayflys – For you dry fly “specialists”, I suggest you come to the river and observe. The olives are very prominent and have their own tint to them. There are great spinner falls at dusk.
The Yantic River, from just above the Barstow Rd. access point to an area about a half mile downstream is Flyfishing only, stocked heavily and offers good fishing. Then from Gilman (across from mill) to just above Colonial Sports is fast moving and challenging. From Colonial to the next bridge is Flyfishing only and is quite good. A little further downstream it runs thru a residential area, flows into a pond and emerges around the Stockhouse Rd area. From here to the beginning of some large fields is good early season angling. Once you are past this area the river flows into the Norwich area, You must pick your spots to fish here. Some of the area here is slow deeper water, with a muddy bottom.
- Drys – I have found that Mosquitos, Knats and Adams work well here. Also a good choice is the ever present Caddis fly. Here though it seems the smaller the better.
- Nymphs – Little Black Stoneflies, Beadhead Hares Ears, Beadhead Isonychia, Zug Bug, and others.
- Streamers – Small size Woolybuggers, Downwing Hornbergs, and different colored Ghost patterns .
More like a brook than a river, this gem still has “native” trout production. Little River meanders through many eastern towns. It starts way up in Hampton and flows through the following towns; Scotland, Canterbury, and Hanover. Some of this river is not accessible at all. It is stocked by the state at a number of locations. This is a tough river to flyfish, because It runs mostly in deep woods. I have fished this river since I was very young. It is a good idea to ask local landowners for access.
- Streamers – Woolybuggers, Grey Ghost, Hornberg, and Sculpin Imitations work well.
- Nymphs – Stonefly (various types), Hare’s ear, Red Fox Squirrel Hair are enough to get you started.
- Drys – Caddis are sparce on this river but don’t rule them out. Mayflys are here but not in any force, I always carry some small ( size 18 ) Adams for this river.
This river is really like two rivers in one. From the area in the town of Moosup (the Old Brunswick Mill Site) to Rte. 14 in Central Village it is open fishing. There are many good spots to fish here on the upper Moosup. The next part from Rte 14 to the Quinnebaug river is a Trout Management Area. This area is catch and release only. It is also broken into two parts. One for any type of spinners and the lower section is Flyfishing only. It is clearly posted on the river banks. I fish this river quite often in the later part of the season because it is very shaded and cool late in the year. Some of the largest trout I have taken on a fly come from this river.
- Streamers – Woolybuggers, Sculpin Imitations and Red Nose Dace.
- Caddis – This seems to be the best choice, Dry or Emergers.
- Nymphs – Stone flys, Hares ear.
The Quinnebaug is the largest of these rivers. It is also the most difficult to wade in. The slippery rocky bottom can be quite difficult to navigate at times, so be careful. This is a large river with all kinds of water, parts of it are very deep and others are only knee deep. The state stocks the river at various locations. In the summer this river turns very green from the low water and growth of plant life.
- Nymphs/Streamers – Woolybuggers early in the season. Later switch to smaller larvae and pupae type patterns.
- Drys – This river like the Shetucket is a wide open fishery, many types of Mayflies hatch here. A good Cahill hatch here. Also the Olives are abundant. I will mention that this is a good river for terrestrials; meaning hoppers, ants, beetles..etc…
- Caddis – This is however the #1 source of food for trout on this river. From caddis pupae to emergers to hatching adults the river is full of Caddis. Not to mention the great Alder Fly hatch.
The Housatonic River flows through western Massachusetts and down into Connecticut where it spills through some of the Berkshire foothills
DEP Announces Atlantic Salmon Stocking
The Shetucket River in the eastern part and the Naugatuck River in the western part both receive stockings of excess Atlantic salmon brood stock fish. www.noreast.com/fly/tech/Salmon.cfm
Connecticut’s most reliable early season striper destination is the lower Connecticut River.
Where to fish the CT river for stripers
Year-round hatch information for the Farmington River
Year-round hatch information for the Housatonic River
13 Rt. 7, Cornwall Bridge, CT 06754, 860.672.6064
P.O. Box 91, Granby, CT 06035
13 Route 7, Cornwall Bridge, CT 06754 , (860) 672-6064
987 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut 06820; (203) 655-9400
440 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, CT 06475; 860-388-2283