I was asked recently when fishing season opens in Connecticut. The fellow was referring to trout — the quarry of choice for a large number of recreational anglers here and everywhere else.
To answer his question (I couldn’t at the time), trout are fair game starting at 6 a.m. April 20 in all the lakes and streams of the state. The daily creel limit is five.
It might come as a surprise to Yalies who hail from hometowns with big-name fishing venues that trout and other freshwater fish can live in the New Haven area. In fact, a recent state Department of Environmental Protection survey of dozens of streams and the anglers who use them found that more people than ever are wading into the current to cast for trout. Fishing pressure statewide is quite heavy.
Many of the state’s streams and rivers support a solid wild trout population, and the DEP’s two hatcheries are working at capacity to stock other waterways. In an attempt to meet the various wants of anglers without damaging fish populations, the DEP has regulated various spots for specific fishing methods. Even quite near New Haven, they run the gamut.
For a more accessible fishing experience, the Mill River inside the bounds of Sleeping Giant Park in Hamden is the way to go. It’s well stocked and easy to get to if you don’t have a ton of gear. There’s a limit of two.
The Farm River in East Haven and Branford might offer a bit more of a challenge. North of the bridge over I-95, the Farm is un-stocked wild trout territory with a nine-inch minimum. Downstream, the state’s “sea run” rules apply, with a creel limit of two but a 15-inch minimum length.
Remember, though, that a fishing license is required for all inland fishing. Generally, water is “inland” if it’s upstream of the first bridge. It’ll cost $25 for non-residents and $15 if you’re from Connecticut. Lighthouse Bait & Tackle (469-6701) on Lighthouse Rd. by the fishing peer at Lighthouse Point Park should have them. So will the city clerk’s office in downtown New Haven.
I must confess I don’t have a whole lot of experience with that sort of fishing, though. Growing up near Chesapeake Bay, it’s always been striped bass — or rockfish, as we call them down there — that really get an angler’s juices flowing. And here, like on the Chesapeake, the stripers should be beginning to bite. The herring and perch have begun to move up into the headwaters and shallows of rivers to spawn, and the stripers will follow.
The striper run is likely to start early this year, thanks to the mild weather and warm water.
After a brief bit of scouting this weekend, I found a promising little spot in Guilford. The ebbing tide was pouring out of marsh creeks through a culvert under the road. The hole on the other side looked just right for feeding stripers to catch the baitfish getting dumped there. It was just a few hundred yards from the shore of the Sound. Since the spot is tidal I will not need a license.
Some time in the next few days you could find me there. I think I will give it a shot with my fly rod and a saltwater deceiver fly. I’ve never fished for stripers with a fly, but there’s a first time for everything. The minimum length for a keeper is 24 inches, so if I hook one, no doubt it will be a battle.