DEEP Announces Emergency Closure to Fishing Near Tributaries to the West Branch Farmington and Farmington Rivers
Warm Temperatures and Low Stream Flows Impacting Fish
(HARTFORD)—Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today that effective August 6, 2022, it is closing short sections of the West Branch Farmington River and the Farmington River to fishing because the hot weather is creating unhealthy water temperatures for trout. DEEP is also augmenting the low release levels on the Farmington with an additional 50 cubic feet per second (CFS) of flow from the DEEP fisheries reserves to improve water conditions for fish health.
As the river temperature increases, Fish congregate near tributaries that bring cooler water into the river. DEEP is closing fishing near these tributaries to protect fish populations that are gathered near these sources. Fishing is still open on most of the Farmington River. DEEP will be clearly marking the closed areas with signage.
“High temperatures combined with low stream flows – are causing fish in these rivers to suffer from heat stress,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “I'd like to thank the fishing community for helping to support the continued success of our world- class fishing destinations during these challenging conditions.”
“Fishing for trout in these thermal refuges would put additional stress on these fish, and could lead to increased mortalities,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble said. “To protect these fish, we are establishing refuges where fishing is prohibited near key tributaries on the West Branch Farmington River and Farmington River.”
The closed areas, listed from upstream to downstream tributaries, include:
- East Mountain Brook (Hallock Brook), New Hartford
- Cherry Brook, Canton
- Rattlesnake Hill Brook, Canton
- Burlington Brook, Burlington
- Hawley Brook, Avon
- Unionville Brook, Farmington
- Hyde Brook, Farmington
- Pequabuck River, Farmington
DEEP took similar action in August of 2016 when similar conditions led to trout dying due to the increased stress. “We are being proactive this summer to do what we can to protect the resource, and it is not a step we are taking lightly,” Dykes said. “The West Branch Farmington River and Farmington River are very popular and well known to anglers, who are attracted to the area from around the world to catch both wild brown trout that spawn in those waters, as well as fish stocked by DEEP.”
As with permanently established thermal refuge areas along the Housatonic, Salmon, Naugatuck, and Shetucket Rivers, DEEP is posting these refuge areas with closure signs. All water within 100 feet of these signsare now closed to all fishing. This closure is scheduled to continue throughSeptember 15, but may be shortened if water conditions improve. Violation of the closure is an infraction with a fine of $154.
High temperatures the past few weeks have had a significant impact on the waters of the two rivers. During the past week, daytime temperatures have reached into the 90s – and on some nights temperatures have remained above 70 degrees. The forecast is for similar conditions for the near future, which will only worsen conditions for the fish. The DEEP Fisheries Division is augmenting flow to the river by releasing water from the West Branch Reservoir (Hogsback Reservoir). DEEP is rationing the release to ensure it will have enough reserves to last through further weeks of hot weather. Despite the flow augmentation efforts, sections of the Farmington River below Collinsville may continue to warm.
To maximize the areas of some of the cold water refuges, DEEP Fisheries staff have constructed rock walls and small pools. These habitat improvements increase the effectiveness for some refuges to support trout through these challenging environmental conditions. These in-stream structures - primarily created using rocks, gravels, and sand – are designed to allow fish passage upstream and to concentrate the cool water inputs from tributaries into suitable locations where trout can seek refuge. DEEP asks the public not to modify these enhancements.
While some portions of the West Branch Farmington River and Farmington River remain open to fishing, DEEP asks anglers to consider avoiding being out during the hottest times of day and to consider fishing upstream of the Collinsville impoundment, where the water temperatures are cooler and the fish are less stressed. DEEP also asks the public to avoid swimming, wading, or boating in any of these refuge areas as this can cause the fish to move back out into the main part of the river where the temperatures may be lethal.
Download: Declaration of Closed Areas to Fishing and Map of Impacted Areas.