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Best Connecticut Boat Launches: Long Island Sound

July 16, 2011 8:00 AM

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River Dogs Snack bar at Birdseye Ramp

Photo Credit: The River Dog Facebook

By Leon A. Sylvester

Connecticut’s coastline and the bordering waters of Long Island Sound have much to offer the marine enthusiast.  Whether you’re a pleasure boater looking to explore the many islands inlets and harbors scattered along our state’s shoreline, or an avid angler looking to land that trophy Striped Bass, Bluefish or Fluke, Connecticut’s coast line offers a diverse variety of scenic terrain to explore and experience.  Check out our picks for the best places to launch your vessel and get started on your next adventure at sea.
Barn Island Ramp way and Bay

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Barn Island Boat Launch

End of Palmer Neck Road,

Stonington, CT

Hours: 24/7 year round

(860) 434-3000

Price: Free

www.ct.gov/dep

This picturesque state boat launch is located within the 1013-acre Barn Island Wildlife  Management Area and is truly a hidden gem.  Located less than 3 miles from I-95 making Barn Island launch easily accessible to all. That being said, some of the roads are very narrow on the way in so go slow and use caution if towing a boat.  The launch is well maintained and offers boaters two lanes to launch and floating wooden docks (seasonal) for easy loading and unloading.  The launch is steep and deep and provides plenty of water for both high and low tide launches.  The facility offers 60 paved parking spaces for trailers and has a separate parking area for kayak access.  There are also seasonal chemical  toilets at this location and this ramp is free and open to anyone.  Once you shove enjoy the breathtaking views of Little Narragansett Bay and Watch Hill Rhode Island.  Anglers will find excellent Fluke fishing within the bay and a chance for big Stripers and Bluefish near by  on Sugar Reef or at the mouth of the Pawcatuck River.

Baldwin Bridge ramp and fishing pier

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Baldwin Bridge Boat Launch

End of Ferry Road, under bridge

Old Saybrook, CT

Hours: 24/7 year round

(860) 434-3000

Price: Free

www.ct.gov/dep

Possibly the best of the best when it comes to free, public boat launches in the state of Connecticut.  The Baldwin Bridge Boat Launch is a massive complex located on the shores of the Connecticut River, which includes; 75 parking spaces for trailers, chemical toilets and a wide concrete ramp with year round floating wooden docks for easy in and out service.  The launch grounds also include; two fishing piers, a seperate dedicated small boat and kayak launch and pump out disposal services.  Once you shove off explore the largest river in the state or head just a few miles down river to access Long Island Sound.  Anglers will find plenty of Bass, Blues, Fluke and Blackfish throughout the mouth of the Connecticut River and The Baldwin Bridge Ramp is also a great place to catch your limit of Blue Crabs during the late summer and  early fall months.

 

Branford River launch Entrance

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Branford River Boat Launch

End of Goodsell Point Road

Branford, CT

Hours: 24/7 year round

(860) 434-3000

Price: Free

www.ct.gov/dep

The Branford River Launch is a free, public state boat launch and is an excellent choice for small boaters and kayakers looking to explore the scenic river and near by Thimble Islands. Boats over 20 feet should use extreme caution launching here at low tide as there is very little water at the ramp.  The facility offers 50 gravel parking spaces for trailers and has chemical toilets and a fixed wooden dock which can only be used during the higher tides.  Anglers can use this ramp to access the famed  Summer Fluking grounds off New Haven Harbor or to chase Striped Bass and Blues along Branford Reef.

River Dogs Snack bar at Birdseye Ramp

Photo Credit: The River Dog Facebook

Birdseye Boat Launch

End of Birdseye Road

Stratford , CT

Hours: 24/7 year round

203 381-2049

Price; $30 day permit

http://www.townofstratford.com

Unlike the other launches on my list, Birdeye Ramp is not a free state ramp.  The Ramp is run by the town of Stratford and non residents will have to shell out $30.00 for a day permit or $125.00 for a  season pass.  The facility offers 50 trailer parking spaces, 5 launch lanes with floating wood docks and is the home of  the local Coast Guard Auxilery.  River Dogs, a snack bar offering burgers, dogs and seafood is located in the parking lot (seasonal)  and there is a gas dock located less than a half mile down river at Knapps Landing. Birdeye Launch is located on the shores of the Housatonic River less than a mile from the mouth and offers boaters a great starting port for day trips to places such as;  Captains Cove in Bridgeport, Milford Landing in Milford and Port Jefferson Long Island.  Anglers will find easy access to the world class Striper fishing in the Housatonic River and at near by Middleground Lighthouse. Fluke, Blackfish and Porgy can also be caught near by from Charles Island to Penfield Reef.

Leon A. Sylvester lives in the Housatonic Valley and has been an avid boater and angler for over 25 years.  He is a featured weekly outdoor columnist in Hersam Acorn Newspapers throughout southwestern CT.. and is a founding director of FOTHR (Friends of the Housatonic River) which is a non-profit enviromental watchdog organization protecting the shores of the lower Housatonic River.  You can follow him on twitter @ Fishingreporter.

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