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Trout and Salmon Research and Management

Background | Research | Management 

Trout and salmon are one of Connecticut's most sought after gamefish, attracting more than 2.1 million fishing trips each year. The Fisheries Division has implemented several management programs which are designed to maintain and improve trout fishing opportunities for Connecticut anglers. Each of the links below go to a web with specific information about that management program.

Background

The management of trout and salmon fish by the state dates back to 1866 when the Connecticut Fisheries Commission was created to restore runs of Atlantic salmon, manage American shad, and to replenish fish within Connecticut's inland waters. These early efforts were almost exclusively based upon “planting” newly hatched fry. Since that time, the management of trout and salmon (salmonids) in Connecticut transitioned to stocking predominantly adult-sized fish though three state owned fish hatcheries, which supported a five trout per day statewide daily limit.

From 2000 to current, the Fisheries Division offers a diverse set of trout and salmon fishing opportunities by implementing different management strategies and regulations based upon the Trout Management Plan for Connecticut’s Streams and Rivers

Now, two decades after the 1999 trout management plan was published and implemented, the Fisheries Division has found that the desires and attitudes of Connecticut anglers are again shifting. The results of angler surveys, online surveys, webinars, and public meetings initiated in fall of 2019 has shown there is a need for changes to present-day salmonid management. A statewide salmonid action plan, to continue to improve trout and salmon fisheries in CT, is forthcoming.

For further reading, enjoy these links to published Connecticut Wildlife Articles:

CT DEEP's Origins Linked to Early Effort to Restore Salmon

150 Years of Fisheries

Research

The earliest known comprehensive survey of Connecticut’s rivers and streams was conducted by John W. Titcomb, a CT Fish Commissioner at the time, who developed and implemented a statewide survey of CT's waters (1925). The most recent statewide stream survey was conducted from 1988-1995 where physical, chemical, and biological data were collected from over 900 locations across the state. Most recently, just over 100 of these locations were selected at random and re-visited to determine if wild brook trout were still present, some 30 years later. Our summary report details the findings of this 2-year project.

Complementing the work on rivers and streams has been the numerous Fisheries Division studies on Connecticut’s lakes and ponds, especially to identify those lakes with coldwater habitat. Data collected over the decades on wild trout populations, survival of stocked trout, habitat, water quality and temperature, forage, and angler surveys are the driving force in current trout management decisions and hatchery trout distribution.

Long-term sampling also provides data to support understanding of changes in distribution across the state, trends in abundance over time, and answer specific questions as they arise. Connecticut DEEP and UConn CLEAR have collaborated on a project to make Connecticut's freshwater fish community data (historic and current) available to the public via the CT ECO webpage. This data viewer allows users to search DEEP fish or macroinvertebrate community data for inland waters (both streams and lakes) by town, waterbody, or fish species. Fish and macroinvertebrate counts are available for over 2,270 sample sites across Connecticut. This is a great tool to find new places to fish for wild trout or new types of flies to tie.

Fisheries Division staff continue to monitor both the fish communities, as well as angler preference and desires. Funding for much of the Fisheries Division work is supported by angler purchase of fishing equipment and tackle. An excise tax, applied to all imported fishing gear, is deposited into a national trust fund, administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program. Each state receives an annual allocation from this fund. Connecticut's annual allocation is just over 2 million dollars. Thank you anglers! 

Standard tagline for Sport Fish Restoration grant funded projects.

 

For further reading enjoy these links to published Connecticut Wildlife Articles

Some Like it Hot "Cold"

Monitoring the Pulse of River and Stream Fish Communities

Aphrodite of the Hemlocks

Farmington River Survivor Program

Management

Natural reproduction of trout, though common, is not adequate to support the traditional and current level of angler demand in Connecticut. Most of the trout fishing is supported via the annual stocking of over 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow, and tiger trout raised within the state hatcheries. Stocking numbers by waterbody are available in our annual fish stocking report. Days since your favorite trout fishing waterbody was last stocked can be found in our interactive trout stocking map.

For practical purposes, nearly every Atlantic salmon and all kokanee salmon found in Connecticut waters are stocked. A handful of anadromous Atlantic salmon do return to Connecticut waters each spring, but the chance of encounter with one of these fish is extremely remote. 

Trout Management Plan (1999)

In response to shifting angler preferences during the turn of the century, the Fisheries Division published A Trout Management Plan for Connecticut’s Rivers and Streams (Hyatt et al. 1999).This publication, based on desires of the angling public and a sound, scientific understanding of trout fisheries and trout populations has set a solid foundation for present-day trout management. Most notably, this trout management plan recognized a need for variety in trout fishing experiences:

Salmonid Action Plan (2020 and beyond)

The results of angler surveys, online surveys, webinars, and public meetings initiated in fall of 2019 has shown there is a necessity for changes to present-day salmonid management. Anglers in the past used to keep almost all of the fish they caught. Today, many prefer to release trout, even very large fish, in order to provide the opportunity for repeat catch events. While trout anglers continue to seek the challenge in fishing out-of-the-way trout streams and large lakes, a growing number have indicated that easy access and success are most important. 

Going forward, the Fisheries Division is in the process of finalizing a 5-year action plan for Connecticut’s salmonid fisheries, striving to provide a robust diversity of trout and salmon fisheries that will cater to CT’s wide-ranging angler preferences and skill levels.

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Please contact the Fisheries Division with any questions. 

Phone: 860-424-FISH (3474)
E-mail: deep.inland.fisheries@ct.gov

Content last updated June 2020