Connecticut River Coordinator's Office
Northeast Region
 
Photo of a volunteer stocking fry in the Sawmill River - Photo credit:  Draper White
Photo of a volunteer stocking fry in the Sawmill River. Credit: Draper White

The Connecticut River is the longest river in New England. It begins in the Fourth Connecticut Lake (2,625 feet above sea level), and collects water from several major tributaries as it flows South between the States of New Hampshire and Vermont, and through Massachusetts and Connecticut. After collecting water from the 11,250 square mile drainage basin, the river flows into Long Island Sound at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, over 400 miles from its origin.

The river basin environment varies from highly developed and urbanized stretches in the lower river valley to more rural and forested reaches in the tributary and headwater areas. Atlantic salmon habitat exists throughout the basin (Table 2). Major tributaries of significance to the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program are shown on the basin map in Figure 1.

The natural streambed gradient profiles are interrupted by artificially ponded stretches created by the numerous dams located on the river and its tributaries. Over 1,000 dams in the basin provide for highly regulated flows, particularly in the mainstem. Summer water temperatures in the mid-Connecticut River mainstem average between 70o and 80oF with temperature peaks sometimes reaching 90oF in July and August. Tributaries generally have cooler water temperatures and, as such, provide better habitat for juvenile salmon. Water quality throughout the basin supports all freshwater life stages of salmon. However, degraded reaches exist, particularly in the mainstem river in Connecticut and Massachusetts, where 84% of the basin's 2.3 million people reside.

The Connecticut River and its tributaries support a diverse group of fishes (Table 3) and invertebrates. Both intentional and accidental introductions have altered native fish communities within the basin. Currently, at least fourteen species of migratory fish inhabit the Connecticut River, including Atlantic salmon, American shad, alewife, blueback herring and shortnose sturgeon.

Tributary System Location of Mouth River Mile 1 Rearing Units (100 m2)2
Eightmile River Lyme, CT 8 600
Salmon River East Haddam, CT 18 4,200
Farmington River Windsor, CT 57 17,200
Westfield River West Springfield, MA 75 22,000
Manhan River Easthampton, MA 92 1,100
Mill River Northampton, MA 92 1,200
Fort River Hadley, MA 95 200
Mill River Hatfield, MA 100 300
Sawmill River Montague, MA 115 1,800
Deerfield River Greenfield / Deerfield, MA 119 16,600
Fall River Greenfield / Riverside, MA 122 1,100
Millers River Millers Falls, MA 126 4,400
Four Mile Brook Northfield, MA 133 200
Mill Brook Northfield, MA 140 300
Ashuelot River Hinsdale, NH 142 4,400
West River Brattleboro, VT 149 25,100
Cold River Cold River, NH 172 3,000
Saxtons River North Westminster, VT 173 4,300
Williams River Rockingham, VT 176 5,500
Black River Springfield / Gould Mill, VT 183 7,000
Little Sugar River North Charlestown, NH 187 700
Sugar River West Claremont, NH 195 4,100
Ottauquechee River North Hartland, VT 210 10,700
Bloods Brook Lebanon, NH 212 400
Mascoma River West Lebanon, NH 214 1,800
White River White River Junction, VT 215 32,000
Ompompanoosuc River Pompanoosuc, VT 225 1,800
Waits River Bradford, VT 247 5,900
Ammonoosuc River Woodsville, NH 266 18,900
Wells River Wells River, VT 266 2,300
Stevens River Barnet, VT 277 1,000
Passumpsic River East Barnet, VT 280 17,000
Johns River Dalton, NH 303 400
Israel River Lancaster, NH 312 2,500
Upper Ammonoosuc R. Groveton, NH 325 5,000
Paul Stream Brunswick, VT 340 1,500
Nulhegan River Bloomfield, VT 345 2,600
Mohawk River Colebrook, NH 359 800
Mainstem Connecticut River 3 Gilman, VT - W. Stewartstown, NH 301- 369 13,100
TOTAL: 243,000

1 From mouth of the Connecticut River, starting at Saybrook Breakwater Light, 0.5 mile below Lynde Point

2 Estimated and surveyed combined; rounded to nearest 100 m2

3 Stretch between Gilman Dam and Canaan Dam.

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Figure 1. Major Tributaries in the
Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program.
(Click the image to see a larger version in a separate window)
Map of Connecticut River Watershed


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Table 3. Fishes Within the Connecticut River Basin.
Key to Status and Codes:

# = Introduced Species

* = Marine Visitor

FE = Federal Endangered

FT = Federal Threatened

SE = State Endangered

ST = State Threatened

SSC = State Special Concern

Scientific Name Common Name Life History Status
Acipenseridae Sturgeons
Acipenser brevirostrum shortnose sturgeon anadromous FE
Acipenser oxyrhynchus Atlantic sturgeon anadromous ST (CT)
Amiidae Bowfins
# Amia calva # bowfin freshwater  
Ammodytidae Sand Lances
* Ammodytes americanus * American sand lance saltwater  
Anguillidae Eels
Anguilla rostrata American eel catadromous  
Atherinidae Silversides
Menidia beryllina inland silverside amphidromous  
* Menidia menidia * Atlantic silverside saltwater  
Carangidae Jacks
* Caranx hippos * crevalle jack saltwater  
Catostomidae Suckers
Catostomus catostomus longnose sucker freshwater SSC (MA)
Catostomus commersoni white sucker freshwater  
Erimyzon oblongus creek chubsucker freshwater  
Centrarchidae Sunfishes
# Ambloplites rupestris # rock bass freshwater  
Enneacanthus obesus banded sunfish freshwater  
Lepomis auritus redbreast sunfish freshwater  
Lepomis gibbosus pumpkinseed freshwater  
# Lepomis macrochirus # bluegill freshwater  
# Lepomis microlophus # redear sunfish freshwater  
# Micropterus dolomieui # smallmouth bass freshwater  
# Micropterus salmoides # largemouth bass freshwater  
# Pomoxis annularis # white crappie freshwater  
# Pomoxis nigromaculatus # black crappie freshwater  
Clupeidae Herrings
Alosa aestivalis blueback herring anadromous  
Alosa mediocris hickory shad amphidromous  
Alosa pseudoharengus alewife anadromous  
Alosa sapidissima American shad anadromous  
* Brevoortia tyrannus * Atlantic menhaden saltwater  
* Clupea harengus * Atlantic herring saltwater  
Dorosoma cepedianum gizzard shad anadromous  
Cottidae Sculpins
Cottus cognatus slimy sculpin freshwater  
Cyprinidae Minnows and Carps
# Carassius auratus # goldfish freshwater  
Couesius plumbeus lake chub freshwater SE (MA)
# Ctenopharyngodon idella # grass carp freshwater  
# Cyprinus carpio # carp freshwater  
Exoglossum maxillingua cutlips minnow freshwater  
# Hybognathus nuchalis # silvery minnow freshwater  
Hybognathus regius Eastern silvery minnow freshwater SSC (MA)
# Leuciscus idus # ide freshwater  
Margariscus margarita pearl dace freshwater  
Notemigonus crysoleucas golden shiner freshwater  
# Notropis anogenus # pugnose shiner freshwater  
# Notropis atherinoide # emerald shiner freshwater  
Notropis bifrenatus bridle shiner freshwater  
Luxilus cornutus common shiner freshwater  
# Notropis heterolepis # blacknose shiner freshwater  
Notropis hudsonius spottail shiner freshwater  
# Notropis lutrensis # red shiner freshwater  
# Notropis volucellus # mimic shiner freshwater  
Phoxinus eos northern redbelly dace freshwater SE (MA)
# Phoxinus neogaeus # finescale dace freshwater  
Pimephales notatus bluntnose minnow freshwater  
# Pimephales promelas # fathead minnow freshwater  
Rhinichthys atratulus blacknose dace freshwater  
Rhinichthys cataractae longnose dace freshwater  
Semotilus atromaculatus creek chub freshwater  
Semotilus corporalis fallfish freshwater  
# Tinca tinca # tench freshwater  
Cyprinodontidae Killifishes
Cyprinodon variegatus sheepshead minnow amphidromous  
# Fundulus diaphanus # banded killifish freshwater  
Fundulus heteroclitus mummichog amphidromous  
Fundulus luciae spotfin killifish amphidromous  
* Fundulus majalis * striped killifish saltwater  
Lucania parva rainwater killifish amphidromous  
Engraulidae Anchovies
* Anchoa mitchilli * bay anchovy saltwater  
Esocidae Pikes
Esox americanus redfin pickerel freshwater  
# Esox lucius # northern pike freshwater  
# E. lucius x E. masquinongy # tiger muskellunge freshwater  
Esox niger chain pickerel freshwater  
Gadidae Codfishes
Lota lota burbot freshwater SSC (MA,CT)
* Microgadus tomcod * Atlantic tomcod saltwater  
Gasterosteidae Sticklebacks
Apeltes quadracus fourspine stickleback amphidromous  
# Culaea inconstans # brook stickleback freshwater  
* Gasterosteus aculeatus * threespine stickleback saltwater ST (MA)
* Gasterosteus wheatlandi * blackspotted stickleback saltwater  
Pungitius pungitius ninespine stickleback amphidromous  
Gobiidae Gobies
Gobiosoma bosc naked goby amphidromous  
Gobiosoma robustum code goby amphidromous  
Ictaluridae Catfishes
# Ameiurus catus # white catfish freshwater  
# Ameiurus natalis # yellow bullhead freshwater  
Ameiurus nebulosus brown bullhead freshwater  
# Ameiurus melas # black bullhead freshwater  
# Ictalurus punctatus # channel catfish freshwater  
# Noturus gyrinus # tadpole madtom freshwater  
Mugilidae Mullets
Mugil cephalus striped mullet amphidromous  
Mugil curema white mullet amphidromous  
Osmeridae Smelts
Osmerus mordax rainbow smelt anadromous  
Percichthyidae Temperate Basses
Morone americana white perch amphidromous  
Morone saxatilis striped bass anadromous  
Percidae Perches
Etheostoma fusiforme swamp darter freshwater  
Etheostoma olmstedi tessellated darter freshwater  
Etheostoma nigrum Johnny darter freshwater  
Perca flavescens yellow perch freshwater  
# Stizostedion vitreum vitreum # walleye freshwater  
Petromyzontidae Lampreys
Lampetra appendix American brook lamprey freshwater ST (MA)
Petromyzon marinus sea lamprey anadromous SSC (CT,NH)
Pholidae Gunnels
Pholis fasciata banded gunnel amphidromous  
Pleuronectidae Righteye Flounders
* Pleuronectes americanus * winter flounder saltwater  
Pomatomidae Bluefishes
* Pomatomus saltatrix * bluefish saltwater  
Salmonidae Trouts
# Oncorhynchus mykiss # rainbow trout freshwater  
# Oncorhynchus nerka # kokanee freshwater  
Prosopium cylindraceum round whitefish freshwater  
Salmo salar Atlantic salmon anadromous  
# Salmo trutta # brown trout frhwtr/andrms  
Salvelinus fontinalis brook trout freshwater  
# S. fontinalis x S. namacush # splake freshwater  
Salvelinus namaycush lake trout freshwater  
Soleidae Soles
Trinectes maculatus hogchoker amphidromous  
Syngnathidae Pipefishes
* Syngnathus fuscus * northern pipefish saltwater  
Umbridae Mudminnows
# Umbra limi # central mudminnow freshwater  

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Last updated: September 13, 2010
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