Environmental Accomplishments of the Past 40 Years
First Trout Management Area Established
The establishment of the first Trout Management Area (TMA) in Connecticut along the Willimantic River in 1976 set the stage for a variety of alternative management strategies, which greatly expanded the quality, diversity, and overall opportunities for anglers. Put simply, it allowed for year-round trout fishing for the first time, and helped to meet the public’s demand for more diversified trout fishing opportunities at a time when recreational angling was growing in popularity.
Additional TMA’s were added on the Housatonic River, 1981; on the Mianus River, 1987; and on the Farmington River, 1988. In each of these areas, catch-and-release regulations were applied to improve the quality of trout fishing. Studies demonstrated the popularity and success of TMA’s with increases in angler trips, total catch, catch rates, and numbers of large trout. Subsequently, six additional TMAs were created in the 1990s and five new areas were added in 2002.
The state now has sixteen TMAs, all of which are open year round. These areas include the Mill River (Fairfield), Saugatuck River, Pequabuck River (including Coppermine Brook), Hammonasset River, Hockanum River, Mill River (Hamden), Naugatuck River, Farmington River, Mianus River, Willimantic River, Moosup River, Yantic River, and Salmon River, West Branch Farmington River and two in the Housatonic River.
TMA’s are all managed with variations of catch-and-release regulations and typically attract more angler days, sustain higher catch rates throughout the year, and are more cost effective (more angler hours per trout stocked) than areas managed under statewide trout regulations.
All of Connecticut’s TMAs are located on streams having good trout habitat and catch-and-release regulations are in effect either seasonally or year-round. TMAs are highly cost effective, generating an average of more than 2 hours of fishing per stocked trout among all areas and > 10 hours per stocked trout in the larger TMAs. Percent return-to-the-angler (number caught divided by the number stocked) averages over 200% among all TMAs and exceeds 600% in the larger areas (by comparison, returns average 80% in put-and-take streams).
Catch & release angling regulations have also been applied to 11 of Connecticut’s Wild Trout Management Areas (WTMA) in an effort that successfully combines conservation of a fragile resource with enhancement of recreational fishing opportunities. The popularity of catch & release fishing is further evidenced by ever increasing levels of voluntary catch & release by CT anglers, particularly bass fishermen.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau