A River Called Hammo
One of the most popular and highly regarded rivers emptying into Long Island Sound is the Hammonasset River, winding southward through a pristine estuary habitat for twenty-one miles. The Hammonasset was a tribe of Algonquian Native Americans who worked the shoreline between the Connecticut and Hammonasset rivers during the 1600s.
The Hammo is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers and streams flowing into it. Known for its most southerly tip, Meigs Point, it follows a path around Clinton Harbor through the wetlands and continues north, ultimately crossing Route 80 and terminating the public’s access at the waterfall of the Lake Hammonasset Dam.
Meig’s Point is quite well known for attracting baitfish like Atlantic menhaden, hickory shad, silversides, and a number of other species, which, in turn, set up a foraging opportunity for predator fish like striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore. In addition, our seal population can be seen basking on one of the shoreline’s rocks (including those around Faulkner’s Island) when not hunting for food or an easy meal that was once meant for successful fishers.
As the Hammo transitions from briny to brackish water, it brings with it sea-run trout and some returning Atlantic salmon during their spring and fall runs. One of its main attractions is trout — well-stocked rainbows, brookies, browns, and tigers. Now, year-round and especially during the spring and fall seasons, anglers descend on this river to harvest and/or catch and release these popular sportfish.
Sections of the Hammo that are generally populated with trout run from the broken dam at River Road to the dam at Route 80. Stretches of the river can be open with intermittent ponds and pools, while others can be either high and fast flowing or very shallow and barely moving, depending on rainfall and hot spells. As water levels rise and fall — sometimes influenced by the dam opening and closing — branches and other hazards can present fishing challenges.
Regardless of the conditions, trout anglers will find this river interesting to fish, as one will periodically hook into fish other than trout. It spans an area covering Clinton, Killingworth, and Madison, with intermittent sections from Route 80 to Route 1. The Trout Management Area (TMA) runs from Lake Hammonasset Dam to Chestnut Hill Road. In addition to an inland fishing license required, a trout and salmon stamp is required. The season on this TMA runs from 6 a.m. on the second Saturday in April to Aug. 31, with a daily creel limit of two trout at a nine-inch minimum length. From Sept. 1 at 6 a.m. to the second Saturday in April, this TMA becomes catch and release only.
Additionally, from Chestnut Hill Road to the breached dam, located 300 feet upstream of River Road (known as a sea-run trout stream), the daily trout creel limit is two with a nine-inch minimum length. Note that statewide trout limits apply. Within the tidal waters and tributaries downstream of the breached dam, located 300 feet upstream of River Road to Route 1, the daily trout creel limit is two with a 15-inch minimum length and year-round harvest.
Note that as of Dec. 27, 2022, and unless otherwise stated as in the regulations stipulated above, from March 1 until 6 a.m. on the second Saturday of April, trout fishing in rivers and streams, except for sections designated as tidal waters and tributaries, is catch and release only. For some of the best trout fishing near the shoreline, there are anglers that may not have to go much farther than their own backyards. For others, a trip to the Hammo is worth it! Give it a try.
On the Water
A weak high pressure built as a large frontal system approached from the west, impacting week’s end, while an associated low pressure lingered close by. High pressure briefly built across the area, making way for another low-pressure system that affected the region leading into the week. Mixed precipitation, but mostly rain, hit the area as air temperatures took a drop, yet weather remains unseasonably mild. Long Island Sound water temps remain in the low 40s; winds continue to gust while sea conditions vary.
Eagles are busy, seals are feeding, beachcombers are out walking the surf line interacting with seagulls, as the Sound remains generally quiet. The exception being striped bass foraging in the main tidal rivers and, deservedly, can use the rest. Herring is the food source prompting feeding sprees.
However, that is not stopping fishers from hitting the briny during breaks in the weather. Some are looking to hit the rails for offshore cod and pollack. Locally, we are seeing more fishers putting in more fishing time compared to last season when their time clocks appeared to be punched a good deal more of the week than preferred. Requests for servicing and repairing of gear are up — often more than time allows and parts available. Nevertheless, based on last season’s supply of forage and the realistic expectation that it will somewhat continue, it looks as though more fishers will either be out on the water or casting to it.
As far as ice fishing south of I-95 is concerned, it remains a non-sequitur. Mild weather continued to wreak havoc with any developing hard water, as either unseasonably warm air temperatures or gusty winds prevented any meaningful buildup. Even mid-state and farther north regions are feeling the pinch. In place of ice, open water and the new no closed waters mandate have opened the door to trout and salmon fishing opportunities.
Inland fishing has been good in the trout parks, trout management areas, the wild trout management areas, as well as many of the largemouth bass, toothy critter, and panfish popular waters. The Shetucket and Naugatuck rivers are experiencing accelerated fishing from both experienced and beginner Atlantic salmon anglers searching for one of those prized broodstock examples.
Outstanding Opportunity for the experienced or beginner! Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023 with World Fisher, certified Master Fly Fishing Casting Instructor, and Fishing Lodge Director. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit, and tarpon, etc., techniques learned and honed will improve your fishing.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and International fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy, including the latest gear, ice fishing, flies/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/crabbing supplies, fishing trips, licenses/permits, and much more, swing by the shop (203-245-8665), open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter and Authorized Penn Premium Dealer, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.