Connecticut Fishing Season Starts Early

Fishing Season Opened Early in Public Waters to Encourage Social Distancing

On March 24, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order opening lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to fishing statewide.  Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19, by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as a solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. 

DEEP is encouraging all anglers to follow social distancing practices.  Anglers should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home and away from others if you feel sick.  If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time.  Anglers are encouraged to purchase 2020 fishing licenses, Trout & Salmon Stamp, and Youth Fishing Passport online, through our mobile friendly site or access via our main fishing web page.  Over the coming days, DEEP will be promoting these social distancing practices through social media and other outreach efforts.

  • DEEP’s Fisheries Division began its 2020 spring stocking of all traditional trout fishing areas in early February. There are also plenty of opportunities to fish for bass, pike, walleye, catfish and carp in areas that are usually closed at this time of year.
  • All of DEEP’s 117 boat launches located throughout the state remain open, although docks will not be in place yet. DEEP reminds boaters that social distancing rules still apply and all boaters are encouraged to consider the size of the vessel, the number of people on board, and the ability of people to keep six or more feet apart. And as always when on the water, personal floatation devices should always be worn.Whether fishing from a kayak, canoe, rowboat, or outboard a PFD can save your life should you capsize.
  • Please respect social distancing for your safety and that of our staff if you encounter DEEP’s hard-working staff out stocking trout or performing other activities.

All other fishing laws and regulations, including requirements for a fishing license and trout and salmon stamp when needed, and all methods, creel limits and length limits remain in effect.  The Executive Order does not change the regulations for Trout Management Areas that are currently open for catch and release fishing only.

Anglers should explore the many sources of important information made available by DEEP through social media, email, and our improved website at, the 2020 CT Fishing Guide (, and answers to frequently asked questions below.

DEEP Fisheries and Wildlife information can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at  Both pages feature a variety of information on fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching in Connecticut. Questions about fish or fishing can be emailed directly to mike.beauchene@ct.govwho will assist you in as timely a manner as possible during normal working hours.

Connecticut Inland Fishing COVID-19 Update

Anglers are encouraged to follow these guidelines to enhance social distancing:

  • If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Rather than traveling to some of the most popular spots like Trout Parks and Community Fishing Waters, or the Salmon, upper Farmington River or Housatonic Rivers,try a small stream or pond you may not have visited before or one close to your home. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time.
  • Observe the CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like – basically a fishing rod distance apart.
  • Follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as streamside trees, boulders along streamside trails, handrails on fishing piers and docks.
  • Bring water or drinks and a trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers.

FAQ for Opening Fishing as of 3/23/2020

Why is fishing being opened early? Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19, by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. 

Can I fish for trout as of 3/24/2020?  Yes, Governor Lamont’s Executive Order opens inland waters that were either 1) closed to all fishing, or 2) closed specifically to trout fishing.

Are you still stocking trout?  Yes. We began stocking trout in early February and have continued to do so.  With the Governor opening fishing, including trout fishing, we will continue to stock the trout we have produced at our three state hatcheries for the spring of 2020.

Can I keep the trout that I catch?  Yes, as long as you are following all other regulations for the place you are fishing (the daily limit and any size limit).

Can I keep trout at a Trout Park now? Yes – Trout Parks are open with a 2 fish per person limit.

Can I keep a trout from a Trout Management Area (Rivers)?  No – not until April 11, 2020, when the regulations, already in place, allow harvest.

The Governor’s Executive Order opens inland waters to fishing, but does not modify or change any other existing regulations about daily limits, size, gear, method, etc. Note that several of our TMA’s remain open to catch and release only fishing year-round.

Can I keep a trout from a Trout Management Lake?  Yes – Trout Management Lakes were open to fishing until March 31 (even before the Governor’s Executive Order), with anglers able to keep one trout per day provided it is 16 inches or larger.  These lakes will not close to fishing on the last day of March and will remain open with all existing regulations for that lake.

Will you be stocking tiger trout this year? Yes.  We will stock about 2,500 tiger trout this spring. However, we will be suspending the roll out of our “Tame a Tiger” campaign until this fall.

Has [insert favorite fishing hole] been stocked with trout yet this year? We are changing the way we share stocking information to reduce crowding. Instead of daily stocking updates, our Interactive Trout Stocking Map will be updated every Wednesday and Friday. Our Trout Stocking Report will also be published each Wednesday and Friday with a new format. Instead of showing the date of stocking and the number of each species stocked, the report displays columns for waterbodies that have been stocked, will be stocked soon, and for which stocking is postponed. Please check there to see if your favorite fishing spot has been stocked yet.

Can I fish in a lake/pond that crosses state lines? That depends.  There are several boundary waters, waters that cross state lines that have fishing regulations determined by the neighboring state.

Rhode Island Regulations:

  • Beach Pond and Keach Pond (Peck Pond) are closed to fishing until the second Saturday of April.
  • Hazard Pond and Killingly Pond are open to fishing as there is no closed season.

Massachusetts Regulations:

  • All boundary waters with Massaschusetts are open, as Massachusetts does not have a closed season.

New York Regulations:

  • Closed to fishing until the second Saturday of April.

Where can I get a copy of the 2020 Fishing Guide?  The 2020 Fishing Guide is available online at

Where can I get my fishing license and trout/salmon stamp?  We encourage you to get your fishing license online 24/7 through our online licensing system:

Does the Governor’s Executive Order impact saltwater fishing?  No – the Executive Order is specific to inland waters only.  While there is no closed season on fishing in marine waters, several species have unique seasons specifying when harvest is allowed. Please consult with the 2020 Fishing Guide or our webpagefor the Marine Fishing Regulations in effect in 2020.

Does the Governor’s Executive Order open up fishing at Aquarion Water Company, Regional Water Authority (RWA), and The Metropolitan District Hartford, Connecticut (MDC) reservoirs? Aquarion and RWA reservoirs are now open for fishing, but the permit requirements still apply. To learn more about permit requirements for Aquarion, please visit their website here:, and for RWA, please visit here: MDC’s Lake McDonough is open for shore fishing only. The boat launch will remain closed until further notice. You can learn more about MDC and Lake McDonough here:

Where can I find bait and tackle? Aren’t all stores closed? Many bait and tackle shops, as well as big-box stores that carry bait and tackle, remain open for online sales, curbside pickup, or limited indoor sales. Please call ahead for more information.

Are State Parks open for fishing? As of now State Parks remain open to fishing, but several measures have been taken to reduce crowding and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. See here for more information: COVID-19 Updates CT State Parks and Forests

Are CARE fishing classes cancelled? To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all CARE classes are cancelled through the end of April. For more information see here: COVID-19 Updates CARE Program

Are fishing tournaments/derbies cancelled? The Fisheries Division has cancelled or postponed all fishing tournament/derby permits through April 30, 2020, and will not issue more during that period.

Is commercial fishing affected? The Commissioner ordered a temporary waiver of the requirement to submit the application and payment for commercial fishing licenses by the March 31, 2020 application deadline. The waiver is extended, without additional approvals, until May 31, 2020, to avoid permanent forfeiture of those licenses due to the disruption of the commercial fishing license renewal process. See full order here: Order of the Commissioner Concerning Licensure of Commercial Fishermen

What else is DEEP doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19? Please see here for more information on DEEP’s COVID-19 response: DEEP COVID-19 Response

Content last updated April 2, 2020


Source: Connecticut Fishing Season Starts Early

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