By Leon A. Sylvester

The tidal section of the Housatonic River is a 7-mile stretch of brackish water, which feeds into Long Island Sound along the shores of the towns of Stratford and Milford. This section of the river offers anglers a wide variety of target species to chase and has recently gained recognition as a world class, year round Striped Bass Fishery.  In addition to bass, anglers will have a chance to land Fluke, Blackfish, Bluefish, Carp, Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Catfish, Perch and Shad.  Here are some of my favorite spots to access the river legally and some tips to improve your chances at landing a river monster!

Shelton/Derby Dam, Derby Side

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Shelton/Derby Dam Access Points

In Shelton entrance is located at the end of Canal Street.  In Derby Access is located off Route 34.
Shelton/Derby, CT
Hours: 24/7 year round
(203) 386-1745

With access on both the Shelton and Derby sides of the river, there is ample room along the shorelines for those looking to wet a line. Anglers can park legally along Canal Street in Shelton and in the designated lot which is located off of Route 34 in Derby. This location  is an excellent choice for pursuing Trout, Atlantic Salmon and Striped Bass while catches of Perch, Catfish, Walleye, Pike, American Shad and Bluefish are not uncommon as well.

Fishing Tips:  Fishing here is best on the top of the incoming and beginning of the falling tide and anglers will do well casting a variety of swimming and surface lures or fishing live bait including; sandworms and chunked Bunker, Shad or Herring.

The Peninsula at O'Sullivan's Island

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

O’Sullivan’s Island  Recreational Park

Located at the end of Caroline Street off Main Street.
Derby, CT
Hours: 24/7 year round
(203) 735-4222

This recently renovated site located along the 1.7 mile Derby Greenway Walk provides anglers excellent shore access to both the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers.  There is plenty of free parking in the large dirt lot located at the end of Caroline Street.  (Under the Route 8 Bridge) Those fishing the Naugatuck River will find plenty of action with Smallmouth, Trout and Atlantic Salmon while the Housatonic River side is a great spot for big Striped Bass, Catfish and Carp.

Fishing Tips:   Try fishing The Peninsula at the mouth of the Naugatuck River where it feeds into the Housatonic during the falling tide.  This is a popular location for both surfcasting and fly-fishing. Surface plugs and plastic baits work well here and bait fishing here  with sandworms, Bunker or herring will produce it’s fair share of fish.

Fishing Pier at the Dock Marina and Shopping Center

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Dock Shopping Center Fishing Pier

Located in the river section of the Dock Shopping Center, next to The Dock Marina.
Stratford, CT
Hours: 24/7 year round
(203) 385-4053

The Dock Shopping Center Fishing Pier is located in the Dock Shopping Center parking lot in between the I-95 and Route 1 bridges.  This spot is an excellent choice for those looking to target Big Stripers and Blues during the summer months.  The pier is good size but very popular and with only limited spill over shore access make sure you get their early to get a good spot.

Fishing Tips:   This location is difficult for those looking to cast lures.  Try fishing chunked Bunker, Mackerel or Shad on the outgoing tide here.  Sandworms, whole Squid  and Sea Clams also work well here.    Cast your bait out into the river close to the bridge and make sure you use enough weight to keep you bait on the bottom.

Walkway to Short Beach and Sand Bar

Photo Credit: Leon A. Sylvester

Short Beach Sand Bar

Located on Dorne Drive off of Short Beach Road in the Edward Yeoman’s Complex.
Stratford, CT
Hours: 24/7 year round
(203) 385-4053

The Short Beach sandbar is a popular and well know destination for New England anglers but don’t worry as there is plenty of free parking  This long shallow sand bar reaches far out into the mouth of the Housatonic River and gives anglers an excellent opportunity to cast their offering into a variety of terrain and water depths.  The bar is easily visible at low tide but can be tricky during the higher tides and anglers who are not familiar should use extreme caution when venturing out on it as the water comes in very quickly and you can easily get trapped.

Fishing Tips:  Excellent location for Fly-fishing, Surfcasting and Wade fishing.  Bass and Blues love this spot on the moving tides and keep an eye out for bird activity to signal a possible feeding blitz.  Swimming Plugs, soft plastics fished on jigs and small bait imitating flies all will produce quality fish here, while Sandworms, Clams and Squid fished on the bottom will keep anglers busy with Fluke and Porgies.

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.

  1. Friends of the Housatonic River says:

    Great write up on all the hot spot fishing locations on the lower Housatonic river.

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