Trout Management Lakes
Connecticut's Trout Management Lakes (TMLs):
- Amos Lake, Preston
- Candlewood Lake, Danbury-New Fairfield-Sherman-New Milford-Brookfield
- Crystal Lake, Ellington
- East Twin Lake, Salisbury
- Highland Lake, Winchester
- Quonnipaug Lake, Guilford
- Rogers Lake, Lyme
- Squantz Pond, New Fairfield
- West Hill Pond, New Hartford-Barkhamsted
In addition to these Trout Management Lakes, there are two important trout lakes that are slated to become TMLs in 2021 - Mohawk Pond, Goshen and Black Pond, Woodstock – and have been stocked with only large brook trout in recent years. Both of these lakes are small, spring fed ponds in very secluded settings giving the sense of fishing a remote “brookie lake” in northern Maine.
One recent change in trout management is the return of the “Seeforellen” strain brown trout, much to the delight of serious trout anglers! This trout is a lake-based strain of brown trout, originally from Europe, that sexually matures later in life and as such, typically grows faster than other strains of brown trout. In fact, the majority of the biggest trout ever sampled by FD staff or caught by anglers in our TMLs and important coldwater lakes have been Seeforellens. The last two state record brown trout have been 20 plus pound Seeforellens! The current plan will be to stock and assess this strain of trout in select coldwater lakes (Lake Wononskopomuc, Lakeville and Saugatuck Reservoir, Redding) beginning in 2021. The hope is that these two lakes will, over time, only be stocked with fingerling size Seeforellens in addition to adult rainbows and/or brooks, which may reduce hatchery costs of raising these trout to adults. The Seeforellens will also be stocked as adult size fish in other TMLs and important coldwater lakes.
Regulations differ among TMLs and important coldwater lakes in CT, so consult the Fishing Guide prior to heading out to one of these locations to fish. A unique opportunity at the TMLs is that each lake is open for fishing during the month of March (all other stocked lakes close on the last day of February). During the month of March, each angler can take one trout that is 16 inches or larger per day.
Shore fishing opportunities vary among coldwater trout lakes from being very limited in some (e.g., West Hill Pond) to exclusively shore-based fishing (e.g., Saugatuck Reservoir). Even though Saugatuck Reservoir is shore-only fishing (western shoreline only), it offers excellent opportunities to connect with true holdover brown trout. Saugatuck Reservoir also has excellent fisheries for walleye and smallmouth bass. The reservoir is owned by the Aquarion Water Company and a permit (obtained for a fee) to fish this reservoir is required.
When fishing for holdover trout from the shore, timing can be critical. Night fishing (where legal to do so) is an excellent way to connect with large trout, as they often come in closer to shore to feed under the cover of darkness. In addition, brown trout are fall spawning fish, and will often be found October through December coming into shallow water. Catching them at this time can prove frustrating because their focus is more on spawning and less on feeding.
For boat fishermen, all of the state’s TMLs have well maintained boat launch facilities. Some lakes, however, do have either speed or horsepower restrictions, so again consult the Fishing Guide or the Boater's Guide before heading out to fish. Depending on season and time of day, trout will be found in specific locations within the lake and within the water column. Most avid trout fishermen that target holdover trout in Connecticut lakes concentrate their efforts during mid-May through June. Water temperatures in CT lakes during that time of year are ideal and large trout activity at this time is considered “peak.”
Methods of catching trout via boat generally fall into two categories 1) trolling, or 2) still fishing. Trolling is a great way to cover water and can be done in the early season by simply letting a lure/fly/bait out behind your boat, canoe, or kayak and “troll” between 1 -2 miles per hour. As water temperatures warm and trout move deeper in the water column to colder, more oxygen rich waters, using downriggers or lead core line is common practice. Each angler has their preferred method, but both are designed to get the bait/lure/fly to the appropriate depth where trout are feeding. Still fishing can be done by anchoring or if fairly calm, can be done by allowing the breeze to slowly move the boat through the desired fishing location. This is a bait fishing method and as with trolling, requires the fishermen find the right depth, which at times (especially early morning) can be at the surface. Still fishing live bait at night can and does produce some spectacular holdover trout fishing!
As with any fish, if you plan to keep them for the table, make sure to get them on ice as soon as possible to protect the delicate nature of the meat. If ice is not readily available, use a stringer to keep the fish in the water as this will help prevent deterioration of the flesh. Trout, especially holdover trout, can be prepared in endless different ways from smoked, baked, planked, steamed or fried. A simple Google search will provide more recipes than anyone can eat in a lifetime! But, for a simple and excellent trout preparation we suggest the following:
Simple Trout Recipe
Trout have been at the forefront of fisheries management in Connecticut for more than a century, and are one of the most sought after fish species by anglers, who spend approximately 2.1 million fishing trips a year seeking them. There are three main trout species (brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout) currently raised at Connecticut's fish hatcheries. While all three species are commonly stocked in CT lakes, it is the brown trout and rainbow trout that serve as the primary species stocked into special Trout Management Lakes (TMLs) and other important coldwater trout lakes.
Brown trout are fairly temperature tolerant and extremely piscivorous (fish eaters), making them an excellent choice for long-term management in Connecticut’s coldwater lakes, as they have the ability to “hold-over” and survive several years after being stocked. The addition of rainbow trout into Connecticut’s TMLs isn’t so much for the holdover potential, but rather to provide excellent fishing for large trout in the early spring season (i.e. March season in TMLs).
Connecticut has a total of 9 TMLs that were selected because of their coldwater habitat, forage base (primarily landlocked alewife), or in some cases both. It is the coldwater habitat and food availability that make certain lakes able to support and grow large holdover brown trout. Management efforts on these lakes have focused on size and timing of trout stocking, specific fishing regulations, and also forage fish monitoring and manipulation (e.g., efforts to restore rainbow smelt into West Hill Pond) as a means of producing sustainable and, in some cases, notable brown trout fisheries.
Conditions for growth and survival of brown trout in some of these management lakes have changed over recent decades and become less favorable for producing holdover trout due to decreased summertime coldwater habitat and fluctuations or losses of the forage base. East Twin Lake is one such water that has proven to be challenging for fisheries managers. In response to these changes, Fisheries Division biologists developed a lake classification system in 2013 based on each lake’s current biological conditions. By clearly defining what each TML can and cannot be expected to produce, biologists will be able to better utilize hatchery-reared trout and provide more opportunities for fishermen to catch large trout.
Please contact the Fisheries Division with any questions.
Content last updated September 2020