December 22, 2011
New Trout Regulations Set to Take Effect on the West Branch Farmington & Farmington Rivers
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is reminding anglers that there will be new trout fishing regulations on much of the West Branch Farmington River and the upper Farmington River beginning on January 1, 2012.
The Farmington River (upper portions of which are officially named the “West Branch Farmington”) is the state’s premier trout fishing stream. With classic trout habitat fed by cool water released from the Metropolitan District Commission’s Goodwin Dam in Hartland, the river offers year-round fishing opportunities and holdover trout are abundant. When the new regulations take effect in January, nearly 21 miles will be open to fishing year-round.
“The new regulations will provide additional trout fishing opportunities, especially during times when most trout areas are closed to fishing,” said Bill Hyatt, chief of DEEP’s Bureau of Natural Resources. “They also simplify what had become a complicated set of regulations on the West Branch Farmington and upper Farmington rivers. Instead of five river sections with three sets of regulations, there will be one designated Trout Management Area with two sets of regulations.”
Since 1988, two sections (totaling 8 miles) of the upper 20 miles of the Farmington River have been managed as designated “Trout Management Areas” (TMA) that are open to fishing year-round. One TMA is catch-and-release fishing only all year round and the other is catch-and-release only fishing during the fall and winter. Beginning in 2002, the remaining 12 miles (in three sections) of the upper river from the Goodwin Dam in Hartland to the Route 177 bridge in Unionville have been managed under “Trophy Trout Stream” regulations with a reduced creel limit of two trout per day and a minimum length for trout (currently 12 inches).
Under the new regulations, the area that is currently year-round “catch-and-release only” (the existing West Branch Farmington River TMA) is expanded approximately 1.5 miles upstream to the foot bridge abutments just below “Whittemore pool” and remains “catch-and-release only.” The rest of the West Branch Farmington River and the Farmington River down to the Route 177 bridge in Unionville will be managed as a “seasonal” TMA, open year-round with a 2 trout/day, 12 inch minimum length from 6 a.m. on Opening Day (third Saturday in April) through August 31st and “catch-and-release only” from September 1st to 6 a.m. on Opening Day.
The new regulations are a product of both public input and scientific assessment over a number of years. Following requests from several anglers’ organizations, a series of three informational meetings were held in early 2008. “Based on data collected on the trout populations and fishing activity over multiple years, we proposed several options to increase fishing opportunities on the river,” said Bill Hyatt. “Input from anglers during the public meetings enabled us to develop a preferred option to move through the formal regulations process. This included a public hearing and public comment period earlier this year where we received overwhelming support for this proposal.”
Anglers can find information on the designated Trout Management Areas, fishing regulations and all the many other fishing opportunities available in Connecticut in the 2012 Connecticut Angler’s Guide. An electronic version of the 2012 Guide will be available on the DEP website (www.ct.gov/dep/fishing
) in early January. Printed versions of the 2012 Angler’s Guide will become available in late March at more than 350 locations statewide, including town halls, bait & tackle shops and other vendors selling outdoor equipment, DEP facilities, and commercial marinas and campgrounds.