The Housatonic River is in Northwestern Connecticut and
flows out of the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. This
river is a tremendous trout fishery, and is considered
by many as one of the best in the eastern half of the
United States. A 10.4-mile stretch of Trout
Management, together with a stretch of Fly Fishing
Only water, offer a large number of holdover fish in
the 14- to 18-inch range. And many 18-plus-inch class
fish are caught here each year!
The northern reaches of the Housatonic in Massachusetts
are comprised of the East and Southwest branches. The
Southwest Branch begins at Richmond Pond near the town
of Pittsfield. This section of river runs through urban
surroundings, but has some beautiful, slow-moving water.
Consistent hatches of Mayflies and Caddis, accompanied
by good stocking, make this section very good for early-season
fishing. Access to this section of the river is limited
to bridges and areas close to US Route 20. Lebanon
Avenue and Chapel Street provide some access, since
they parallel the river for a few of the upper miles.
The East Branch of the Housatonic begins near the
town of Hinsdale as a small, swampy stream. This section
is difficult to fish because of its size and brushy
banks. The boggy bottom and abundance of overhanging
vegetation will test the casting and wading skills
of any fisherman. This challenging angling keeps pressure
to a minimum, enabling many trout to hold over.
Hinsdale Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) provides
fishermen with great access to the river. Below the WMA,
MA 8 parallels the river again, giving fishermen access.
Thanks to the easy access and variety of water, this
section attracts many anglers.
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At West Cornwall, the Trout Management Area (TMA)
begins near Route 112 and Route 7, and runs downstream
to Route 7 and Route 4.
This is the most popular 10.4-mile stretch of river,
and usually is the section people reference when they
speak of the "Housy." The beginning of the TMA, well
above the covered bridge in West Cornwall, is made up
of long, deep, slow pools followed by short riffles and
runs. Here, the bottom of the river consists of mostly
silt. Keeping that in mind, the Green Drake hatch (silt
dwelling bug) is one you should look for from mid- to
late-May. Approximately a mile above the covered bridge,
the river begins to run fast and swift. The best way
to access the TMA, above the covered bridge, is from
the eastern side of the river. There are several dirt
roads that will help you get to the river. Below the
covered bridge in West Cornwall, the river picks up speed,
and has large pools, beautiful pocket water, and runs.
This is a big river that is very capable of holding many
trout, and also can be dangerous to wade, at times. Fishing
the pockets with nymphs can be extremely productive,
especially in times of high water. Large trout up to
18-plus inches are frequently caught in this fashion.
Throughout the TMA, there are several named pools --
actually too many to list. You can pick up a good map
at one of the fly shops in the area; it will assist you
in your venture. Some of the noteworthy pools are The
Elms, Garbage Hole, Carse, Monument, One Car, Two Car,
and Church pools. All of these pools, plus many others
that we haven't listed here, are very dynamic and enticing.
The Trout Management Area ends at the Route 4 Bridge.
Below Route 4, the fishing becomes less accessible
and less productive due to the shallower pools and
a lack of cool water. At times, the river can run very
high because of a nearby hydroelectric dam. Water temperatures
also vary greatly, and you should monitor them before
you head out to this part of the Housatonic. During
periods of high release water, it's a good idea to
fish the pockets and eddies with nymphs. Usually the
water is shut down in the afternoon, so levels subside
for the evening hatch. If the water is high when you
arrive, don't be intimidated; just be patient and fish
the banks as noted earlier. You may find that it's
Hatches on the Housatonic are very diverse. A large
number of Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddis are available
in these waters. Check the Hatch Chart, and call a
fly shop located along the river for more specific
For some good fishing, try the Housatonic in Western