Brook trout - Jaime Masterson.

The Connecticut River watershed supports a diversity of fishery resources. Cold-, cool- and warm-water species are in general abundance throughout the watershed.


There are 142 fish species found within the watershed. The northern reaches of the river provide habitat for lake and Eastern brook trout and land-locked Atlantic salmon. The mid-section of the river supports chain pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass, Northern and walleyed pike, and panfish such as bluegill, as well as, summer flounder, and striped bass are found at the mouth of the river. Common carp, suckers, American eel, channel catfish, and brown bullhead are present in many areas.

Brook Trout

Brook trout are native and a member of the salmon family, that inhabit clear, cold headwater streams and rivers, as well as lakes and ponds. This species is most common in the northern portion of the watershed where snowmelt, spring rains, and cold groundwater provide ideal conditions. Warm summer water temperatures (above 72 F) and low flow rates are stressful on brook trout populations. Brook trout spawn in the fall, which is triggered by decreasing day length and water temperature.

American Shad

American shad is one of the largest of the herring family, and currently the most numerous migratory fish in the Connecticut River. They are an anadromous species, migrating from the ocean to freshwater to reproduce. They spawn in the Connecticut River mainstem and larger tributaries in the spring, often corresponding with the blooming of the shadbush. Many migrate back to sea in the fall, and return up to three more times to spawn.

Blueback Herring

Blueback herring are an anadromous species, migrating from the ocean to freshwater to reproduce. They spawn in quick, shallow currents of the main stem river and its tributaries from mid-April through June, traveling as far upstream as Vermont’s Vernon dam. They feed in the Connecticut’s currents until fall, when they return to the sea. Blueback herring are often confused with Alewife, and these two species are often call “river herring.”

American Eel

The American eel is a smooth and snake-like fish that feeds on insects, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and dead animal matter. These eels are abundant throughout the Connecticut River and its tributaries, decreasing in numbers in the northern parts of the watershed.