Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Housatonic River In
The Housatonic River is called the Housy by local
anglers. The river actually starts in the Green Mountains
of Vermont and New York. It flows through the states of
Massachusetts and Connecticut. The most popular
section and the part that anglers mostly refer to when
speaking of the trout fishing starts near West Cornwall.
Fly fishing the Housatonic River in that area is a good as
it gets anywhere in Connecticut for certain.
There is a trout management area located at West
Cornwall that extends downstream for over ten miles
from the Route 112 and Route 7 bridge and extends
downstream to Routes 7 and Route 4. Keep in mind that
this trout stream is located in the middle of a very
populated area of the country. If you could just magically
be placed there to fish, you would never realize that you
were near much of anything.
The Housatonic River is a very good trout fishery. Some
consider it one of the best streams in the East. It has a
large number of holdover trout that range from 12 to
over 18 inches.
The northern part of the Housatonic River in
Massachusetts consist of the East and Southwest
branches. The Southwest Branch starts from Richmond
Pond close to the town of Pittsfield. It's mostly slow
moving, smooth water that's well stocked by the state.
Access is limited. U.S. Route #20 is nearby. There's also
access points along Lebanon Avenue and Chapel Street.
The East Branch of the Housatonic River begins near
the town of Hinsdale. It is a very small, slow moving
stream. It can be accessed from the Hinsdale Flats
Wildlife Management Area. You can also access the
stream from State Highway 8.
The beginning of the Trout Magement Area above the
famous covered bridge in West Cornwall consist mostly
of large pools. There are some runs and riffles
connecting them but most of the water is deeper pools
with fairly slow moving flows. Most of the pools are too
deep to wade.
Nearer the Covered Bridge, the Housatonic River
changes character and the flows become much faster.
From there downstream, the river is more of a classic
pool, run and riffle configuration. Most of the pools are
named. The Trout Management Area ends at the Route
4 bridge. Below the TMA, the water get shallower and in
the warm month of the year can get too warm for trout.
Determine the flows before you fish the Housatonic
River. Make sure you call the number given on the main
page and check on them. The CFS numbers are best
for wading anglers when they range from 400 to 800.
That means that many cubic feet of water is flowing by
each second. This also affect the water clarity.
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
You can fish the river from a drift boat when it
is higher but if it suddenly rises and is not
stable, the fishing could be off. If you fish it
when it is high, make certain it has been stable
for a while. Fishing the pockets with large
nymphs can be productive in times of higher
water. Also streamers work well during this
time or if the water is slightly stained or off
The season is open year-round but there
are closed areas near the mouths of
tributary streams. The water can get warm
in areas during the summer.
Spring is the best season for fly fishing the
Housatonic River because of the hatches.
The river can get crowded in the special
regulations areas during May and June.
Fly Fishing Guide to the Housatonic
It is a good idea to check on the water
releases before fishing the Housy. You can
do that by calling 203-248-8616. Most
anglers prefer rates of flow below 400 cfs.
The upper end of the ten and one-half mile
long Trout Management Area has long, slow
moving pools with soft bottoms. That means
the aquatic insect population is very different
from the lower sections of the Housy. In the
lower section, the water runs over a
limestone rock bottom. This is an entirely
different stream composition and type of
The best part of the season starts about the
first part of May and runs through October.
We think the best fly fishing occurs when
there are some larger hatches going on.
Keep in mind that this is a big river that can
run very swift and be dangerous to wade at
times. Water can suddenly rise. The
discharges are controlled by the
hydroelectric dam. Caution should be used
anytime you are wading the Housatonic
The water temperature, discharges from
the dam and other things affect this. It can
be difficult to pinpoint the best times.
Checking on the current conditions is
always the best approach, especially on
this river that changes can occur on fast.
The trout will average from about ten to
twenty inches and dry fly fishing can be
great if you catch one of the better hatches.
The entire TMA has a long list of named
pools. It would be pointless to name them
here. Local fly shop maps will show them
and help you identify where you are if you
receive local fishing information. It is a way
of communicating locally so it may help.
Housatonic River Hatches and Trout
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and nymphs,
not guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all
the insects in the Housatonic River and in
all stages of life that are applicable to fishing.
If you want to fish better, more realistic trout
flies, have a much higher degree of success,
give us a call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
Please be sure to consult our "Perfect Fly"
Hatch Chart. It will show you the estimated
hatch times and flies to use for each insect
for the entire season. As with most any trout
stream, one of the most important and
abundant aquatic insects are the Blue-winged
Olives. They hatch during a long period in the
early season and again later in the year.
Brown and Green Drakes hatch the last
couple weeks of May in the upper section of
the river where the bottom is soft. They can
provide some good action if you catch the
hatch at the right time.
Caddisflies start with the Little Black Caddis
(Grannoms) in April and the first of May.
Green Sedges, and Short-horned Sedges
will hatch starting near the first of May. The
Cinnamon Caddis species are the most
important caddisflies. They together with
their Little Sisters will hatch for a very long
period of time.
Starting in the middle of June and lasting
until after the first frost, terrestrial insects
become important. The beetles, ants, and
hoppers are the most imitated insects. As
with any tailwater, midges are always very
important, especially when there are no
other hatches taking place. You can always
count of them. Don't forget to have a good
selection of streamers for the larger brown
As with many Eastern trout streams, the
Hendrickson and Red Quills are a very
important hatch. It takes place the last part
of April and last into mid May. There are
March Browns, Light and Cream Cahills in
the fast water sections of the stream.
Sulphurs can be important from mid May
and most of the month of June. Tricos and
the White Drakes hatch in July and August.
Slate Drakes hatch in August and
During the hottest part of the summer it
can be tough to catch trout although it is
very possible to do so.
The fishing picks up again in the fall when
the water temperatures drop and the trout
become more active. Fly fishing the Housy
is good during the Fall..
Thumbnail Images: Click to enlarge
Fishing Report Updated
May 17, 2017
(Full report at Bottom Of Page)
Housatonic River Fishing Report - 05/17/17
The discharges and stream levels are very high and wading conditions not safe most of
the time. There are lots of new hatches taking place.
7 Day Weather Forecast: There is a chance of rain on Friday and again next Monday,
otherwise clear. The highs will range from 68 to 89 degrees and lows from 43 to 65
Recommended Trout Flies: (FS indicates Freestone stream section)
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin, size 6
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6/8
Blue-winged Olives: size 20 and 18 nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
Blue Quills, size 16, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Quill Gordons, size 12/14, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Little Brown Stoneflies, size 14, nymphs and adults
Little Black Caddis, size 18, pupa and adults
Blue-winged Olives: size 18 and 20, nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
The Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin are great flies to use for the larger size
trout. The Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin streamers are great flies to use for
the next several weeks.
Various species of Blue-winged Olives are hatching and available food at this time.
Quill Gordons are hatching.
Blue Quills are hatching.
Little Brown Stoneflies are hatching.
Little Black Caddis are hatching.
|1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Map of Housatonic River
The discharges and stream levels
are running to high to wade much of
the time. There is little rain in the
forecast for this coming week, and
we think the levels will be coming
down soon. Fishing should be good
when it does.