Access to the Connecticut Shore at Seaside Park

Even though 600 miles of sandy beaches, rocky jetties, and tidal flats stretch across the state of Connecticut, the biggest problem fishing in the Constitution State remains finding access to public land where fisherman can launch a boat or surfcast from shore. According to the 2001 Coastal Zone Management Assessment, sandy beaches, the most highly sought coastal access resource, comprise only 14% of the total shoreline in Connecticut. Little undeveloped large open space remains. Thus the Connecticut shoreline lacks an abundance of the most popular forms of recreation: swimming, boating, and fishing. Fortunately, there are still some places available to the public where one can land a striper or bluefish.

On the western part of Connecticut, Capt. Jeff Northrop of Westport Outfitters recommends launching a boat at Veterans Memorial Park in Norwalk for easy access to the Norwalk islands, and Sheffield Island. Also, transient dockage is available at Veterans Memorial Park for those desiring an extended fishing excursion. Another excellent free state boat ramp can be found at Compo Road South, where one access Cockenoe Island.

Other ramps include the Branford River State Boat Launch located at Goodsell Point Road in Branford, which affords easy access to Branford Harbor, the Thimble Islands, and the Long Island Sound. In addition, check out Guilford Town Marina for boat access to Guilford Harbor and the Long Island Sound with scenic views of Faulkners Island. Other boat launches along the Western Connecticut coastline providing access to the Long Island Sound include Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Pear Tree Point in Darien, Light Point City Park and Fort Hale Park in New Haven, and the Saugatuck River State Boat Launch in Westport.

For shore access, Capt. Northrop suggests that anglers cast their line for flounders, stripers, and bluefish at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport or Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk. Also, he notes that they can go to Riverside Avenue (across from the Sunoco Station) in Westport for the opportunity to land a sea run brown trout as well. Also, anglers can walk along Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut’s longest shoreline park located in Madison with its two miles of beach access. In addition, saltwater anglers looking for inexpensive or free shore access can cast their lines into the Long Island Sound at St. Mary’s by the Sea and Seaside Park in Bridgeport; Ash Creek Open Space and Penfield Reef in Fairfield; Greater Harbor Wildlife Management area and Chaffinch Island Park in Guilford; Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center, Gulf Beach and Silver Sands State Park in Milford; Long Beach, Point-No-Point and Russian Beach in Stratford; Altschuler Beach, Dawson Beach, Seabluff Beach and South Street Beach in West Haven; and the Canal Road Water Access Area in Westport.

According to Capt. Northrop, there is consistent fishing along the Eastern shore of Connecticut from April through December. He notes that fisherman have the most luck landing flounder on worms, and recommends targeting bass and bluefish using light tackle and YoZuris Swimmers. Flyfishers can use chartreuse clouser minnows in the spring, switching to olive clousers by June. Polar fiber flies can prove to be killers in August when the peanut bunker arrive.

For those who fish the Eastern side of Connecticut, Capt. Bob Turley of North Coast Charters suggested launching your boat from the Niantic River State Boat Launch in Waterford or the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook. Additional boat launches in Eastern Connecticut include Clinton Town Marina in Clinton; Barn Island State Boat Launch in Stonington; Bayberry Lane and Thames River in Groton; Four Mile River in South Lyme, and Great Island in Old Lyme.

Capt. Turley recommends that surfcasters check out Bluff Point State Park in Groton or Napatree Point in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Other saltwater fishing spots include the jetties on Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme; UCONN-Avery Point in Groton; Fort Trumbull State Park in New London; Ferry Landing State Park in Old Lyme; Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington; and Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford. Targeted species include Bluefish and stripers with Bonita arriving towards the end of summer and false albacore in the fall.

Capt. Turley recommends using 9-inch Slugos with a worm hook and no weight and Zoom super flukes in the spring. Also, zoom super flukes work well for the fall false albacore run. Flyfishers can try large herring and squid patterns in the spring, switching to butterfish and bigger bunker patterns in July and then going with anchovy patterns come fall.

Anglers can fish for striped bass, summer flounder (fluke), bluefish and sea run trout year round. For those that wish to take their catches home the following limits apply: striped bass, minimum size of 28 inches with a daily limit of two fish per angler, summer flounder (fluke), minimum size 17 inches with a daily limit of five fish per angler, and sea run trout, minimum size of 15 inches with a daily limit of two fish per angler. There is no minimum size for bluefish and anglers can take 10 bluefish per angler each day.

Fishing licenses are not required for recreational fisherman, who are using bait rods, light tackle or fly-fishing gear, though one does need a vehicle license to enter a Connecticut State park for night fishing.

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