The ice is out and, if the weather stays warm, this should open up some fishing spots for those who like to get in some early licks.
The ice has gone out on Black Pond, but fishing there closed February 28 and won’t reopen until the second Saturday in April. This holds true for many of the trout-stocked waters in Connecticut.
In our area, we are fortunate to have some waters that are open to some early fishing. Believe it or not, Hanover Pond is one of them. It can be fished from above the Hanover Dam to below Red Bridge. Below the Hanover Dam to Route 150 in Wallingford is closed from the end of February to Opening Day in April.
BUT ... any and all trout caught in Hanover Pond have to be released back into the water unharmed. There is NO FISHING from trout-stocked waters above Red Bridge to Cheshire Street. Above Cheshire Street there is a Wild Trout Area and barbless single hooks may be used for catch-and-release year round.
I would expect that Silver Lake is open and there will be some bass boats out there, as there were on Feb. 25. North Farms Reservoir (Route 68, Wallingford) is also open.
The key to finding open waters for fishing this time of year until Opening Day is your Connecticut Angler’s Guide. There are waters that do allow trout fishing under special regulations located in the Guide. And waters that do not have trout stocking can be fished on a year-round basis.
One of the problems that pops up with the ice out early is many anglers want to get on the open water and try out some new or older tackle, and this sometimes leads to misreading the Connecticut Angler’s Guide.
Locally, one of the most misinterpreted fishing spots is the Quinnipiac River. This happens because the river flows through a number of towns with varying degrees of regulation, and some of these are misleading or misread. Also, some folks know the river has been stocked with trout and want to jump the gun catching them.
In Southington, the entire river is designated as Wild Trout Area down to Cheshire Street. This means you can fish this area year-round using a barbless hook on either a spinning lure or fly. There are some nice trout in that area and have been for a number of years.
Over 50 years ago, I had the pleasure of living right on the Quinnipiac River. My brother Pete, who was in the Navy at the time, came to visit me. I was living on a little farm in back of the cemetery on Cheshire Street and Pete was an avid fisherman, so it was a no-brainer for him to take his fishing rod and hit the river.
That section of the Quinnipiac River was not fished actively, so any fish coming out of that area were a surprise. Yep, Brother Pete got surprised.
He came up to the house in wide-eyed amazement and started to tell me what happened. He was fishing a nightcrawler (now illegal to do in that area) and got a huge hit. Pete swears it was one of the biggest brown trout he had ever seen. After an intense struggle, the huge trout broke Pete’s line and sank back down into the watery shadows of the Quinnipiac River.
Brother Pete, who as a Navy man had fished for huge brown trout in Ireland on an estate, claims that this was the biggest, baddest, brown trout he had ever seen. As in all such ventures, when the big boy escapes, who can refute how huge they really were?
One of the drawbacks about fishing some areas above Cheshire Street is access, unless you come down the river in a canoe or cartop boat. Years ag0, the area above Cheshire Street was basically farmland and was hunted by raccoon hunters with their hound dogs at night when the raccoons were out feeding.
I knew a couple of the hunters and one of them came to my house with something wrapped in a towel. He unwrapped it to show me one of the most beautiful marked trout I had ever seen. The problem was, I had never seen one like it before or since.
He left the fish with me and my only resource was our area Game Warden. He came to the house and also declared he had never seen such a trout before.
He took it to UConn and they told him it was a cross between a brook trout and a brown trout, but I don’t know which one was male or female. I had asked the gent who brought the trout to me how he had got it, since he was a raccoon hunter. He told me he “found” it in a brook that runs into the Quinnipiac River and I let it go at that.
The folks at UConn said the fish was a tiger trout, a species that the state had been trying to introduce statewide, yet this guy happened on one that was thought to be a wild species. The only difference was this trout was much prettier ((for want of a better word) than the tiger trout species that are stocked into our waters now.
I also know that the upper Quinnipiac River also harbors some native brook trout. I have caught some. Some of these trout called many of the brooks that are connected to the Quinnipiac River home. The most amazing thing is that many homeowners living near these brooks have no knowledge they hold these beautiful little trout that sometimes live a secretive life in suburban areas.
And, NO, I am not telling anyone where they might be.
The Salmon River offers up some interesting fishing prior to Opening Day. There are areas for fly fishing catch-and-release right up to Opening morning and then, when the official time for Opening Day arrives, you may catch and keep. The best way to fish the Salmon is to read the signs posted along the river explaining the different fishing venues.
The Connecticut River is offering up fishing in some of the coves for white perch, calico and pickerel, with an occasional Northern pike thrown in, but wear your Personal Flotation Device. The river is swollen from upriver snows and can be dangerous.
Bottom line? There is no fish worth dying for. Use your CT Angler’s Guide, pick a spot on a day and give it a try.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.