Drought dampens Conn. fall fishing outlook

FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — When it comes to trout fishing, the Farmington River is one of the best.

“Clearly the best trout fishing in all of New England,” said Bill Hyatt, Bureau Chief of Natural Resources at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Upstream reservoirs pump the river full of water.

“The water is colder during the summer and typically warmer during the winter, ideal conditions for trout,” said Hyatt.

This year, problems began with a lack of snow in the winter and were compounded by drought during the spring and summer.

“Right off the bat, you can see that it’s pretty low. Absolutely, the river is flowing about half of what it would normally flow this time of year,” said Hyatt.

The low water levels allows the river to heat up faster on hot days, stressing the fish.

It’s been so bad this year for the first time in 30 years they had to shut down parts of the Farmington to fishermen.

One of the reasons why, predators like the blue heron.

Trout seek cooler waters by tributaries.

They gather there making them easy targets for predators.

“Mink, otter, a whole host of predators, just come upon this as a smorgasbord,” said Hyatt.

It’s a problem for conservationists.

“We’ve never had any problems with stress in this river from too low water or too much heat, until this year,” said Hyatt.

Now it’s also a problem for anglers.

Trout likely will not be stocked in normal spots.

“Our plans are a little bit up in the air, clearly as this drought persists, conditions in many streams throughout the state the water flow is insufficient to support trout and in those condition we are not going to stock hatchery trout in those waters,” said Hyatt.

The trout will be stocked somewhere, likely other lakes and ponds.

For fly fisherman this fall on Connecticut Rivers and streams, a little more patience may be required.

For fish stocking information, click here.