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#33: Connecticut and the Founding Fish

After waiting a couple weeks at home to recover from a tough trip, give the snow out West some time to melt, and convince another parent to donate yet another mini-van to the cause, we set off on the final big Continental section of the trip starting with Connecticut. We were unable to complete Connecticut when we did the rest of the East Coast because its state fish is the American Shad, and those fish run up the rivers in the springtime. The Shad is an historic fish, often called the Founding Fish, one that early American settlers used to rely on as important source food as they ran up the rivers in huge numbers. Unfortunately, numbers have decreased over the years, but the spring run of shad is still a big event for many fishermen in the North East.


We set out early the morning of May 1st, and managed to get to our first spot in Connecticut by the early afternoon. We did not know this yet, but as unproductive a month as April had been, May would be a blockbuster fishing month for us. We had found a spot on Fishbrain where some Shad had recently been caught, the signs looked good as we pulled into the riverside park. The bank was packed with fishermen, and we got set up with the lures we had picked up from the tackle shop across the river. However, as we talked to some of the locals we discovered that the run was coming in later than usual this year, and the fish were coming through but it was not yet consistent If we gave it a little more time we would have better luck. We didn’t have time to wait around, so we got a variety of spots from the locals and decided to go out and try them all.

We met a group of kids along the way who fished with us for a while, and we helped one of them land his first ever fish - a good sized striped bass. It was awesome to see how excited he got.


The last spot we fished that first day was a pier near the mouth of the Connecticut river, and we heard about a tributary with a dam in it that the Shad sometimes stack up below. We knew that the best time to get on the shad would be right around dawn, so the next morning we set out early and got to the spot right as the sun was rising. There were a few other people there with us, and after a couple hours it became clear we weren’t going to have much luck there that day.

The night before I had asked for some advice in a Facebook group, and several people had pointed towards a spot on the Farmington river near the town of Windsor, so we decided to go check it out. There were quite a few people fishing at the beginning, and it was difficult to get good access, but a storm blew in and everybody else cleared out and so we were able to fish a good section of the river under a bridge. Daniel and I were on opposite sides of the river, just covering as much water as we could, and I hooked into one and yelled at Dan to come over to my side of the river, as they tend to run in schools, meaning if there’s one, it's likely there are more. That turned out to be the case, as the next cast I threw in I caught another one, and then Dan came over and caught one as well. They were small compared to some of the pictures we had seen, but it was all we needed, and so we hopped in the car around 7PM and prepared for the 35 hour trip to Taos, New Mexico.

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