100 Best: Housatonic River

Location: Western Connecticut

Type of stream: Tailwater

Angling methods Fly, spin, bait

Species: Rainbows, browns

Access Easy

Season: Year-round Supporting

Services: West Cromwell

Short take: Greatest catch and release river in New England

Handicapped access: None

Closest TU Chapter: Northwest Connecticut

The dam at the top of Great Falls on the Housatonic River is a relic of the Industrial Revolution. Its black rocky bottom soaks up solar radiation just as a dark shirt does on a sunny day. Thermal pollution was once the curse of this, one of the most scenic of New England rivers. However, persistent action by the Naugatuck Chapter of TU, members of the Housatonic Fly Fishers Association, and staff from Connecticut DEP saved the river. With thermometers taped to yardsticks, they gathered proof that hot peaking flows from the dam were cooking the Housy’s trout. Facts in hand, they argued for run-of-river flows and won.

While “run of river” management relieved the river, it still becomes dangerously warm for trout on sunny summer afternoons. From June 15 to August 31, angling within 100 feet cold water tributaries is forbidden where posted. Three miles of river, from the top of Housatonic Meadows at a pool called the “Meat Hole” downstream to Route 4 at Cornwall Bridge, is set aside for fly fishing. Pools in this stretch bear names famous in the annals of Connecticut trouting: Push ‘em Up Pool, the Doctor’s Hole, the Elms, Garbage, Horse, Carse Brook, Cellar, Rainbow Run… The Housy is best fished spring and fall.

 

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