GREENWICH, Conn. – Connecticut's fishing season opens next week, and anglers will be heading out to try their luck. Local author, fly-fishing guide and conservationist Jeff Yates says rivers like the Byram and Mianus in Greenwich need to be fished.
“People don’t realize how much fishing opportunity is available right here in their part of the state,” says Yates. “If people aren’t using the rivers, they have no inherent value to the community that they flow through, so it’s far harder to protect them.”
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Inland Fisheries Division expects to have 376,000 trout stocked throughout the state by opening day, April 21. Yates says the most popular destinations for fly fishermen are north of Fairfield County, but that there are plenty of areas on rivers and streams to fish in the county, too, if you know how to find them.
“It can be incredibly daunting to find places to fish locally. Twenty of the 23 towns in Fairfield County have trout streams, but people tend to be very parochial – when you go from one town to another you don’t know where to park, what’s public or private property, so you won’t go and try those rivers out,” says Yates.
Yates’ book, “Fly Fishing Fairfield County: Secrets of Suburban Streams,” details all the rivers where residents of Greenwich and beyond can fish. He tapped into his journalism background and the talents of former colleagues to self-publish the book last fall. It is sold in local shops and online.
For an angler, Yates says one of the biggest challenges is access to rivers. “The Byram River is only stocked with fish near the Merritt Parkway because it runs through backcountry Greenwich and estates and eventually empties into the Long Island Sound,” he says. “In the Mianus River, there are only three main locations where you can fish, but the great thing about Fairfield County is it’s so small, so people can go to nearby rivers and have 13 miles of fishable water.”
Yates, a Wilton resident, has been fishing the rivers of Fairfield County his entire life. He caught his first trout – with the help of his mom – on the Norwalk River in Wilton when he was 3 years old. A dedicated conservationist, he serves as president of the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited, represents Connecticut on Trout Unlimited’s National Leadership Council and is a founding board member of the Friends of Mianus River Park.
“If you can get people out using the resources and enjoying them and seeing there is incredible fishing locally, then those are people who will become advocates for that river and raise the red flag when they see something going on,” says Yates. “Getting more people out on the water is the best way to protect the rivers."
Anglers can purchase their 2012 fishing licenses online or at one of the many participating town halls, tackle retailers and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection offices. Call DEEP Licensing and Revenue (860-424-3105) for more information.
Copies of Yates’ book are available for sale online and at local shops, including The Sportsman’s Den in Cos Cob.