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When I moved to New Hampshire over 6 years ago I was excited about the fact that I was less than an hour away from the longest river in New England. At 410 miles long the Connecticut River winds its way from its headwaters near the Canadian border creating the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, and slicing through Massachusetts and Connecticut before providing 70% of the fresh water that enters Long Island Sound. However, shortly after bringing my kayak to New England I was bitten by the striper bug and over the years have only made a few trips to explore this great fishery. Well I’m vowing to change that and over the next 2 years I want to become familiar with the waters close to me and eventually try to kayak and fish the entire river, and some of its tributaries.

For this trip I loaded up my Kilroy and met 2 friends to float a section of the river close to where we live, launching at Pauchaug Brook (mile 132) and taking out at Riverview Picnic and Recreation Area (mile 124). We met before 6:00AM at our planned takeout and the gates were still locked, so we parked a couple of vehicles their loaded up all the kayaks onto my HHR and made the 20 minute drive to the launch. We quickly rigged our kayaks and launched into the mist and started our adventure.

We weren’t on the water more than about 5 minutes when the first smallmouth of the day slammed my top water Badonk-A-Donk. We continued fishing the banks and I picked up another 5 smallmouth before the mist cleared all top water or soft plastic fluke style baits like Hogy’s near the surface. When the sun broke through the bite slowed down but there were still fish to be caught. Since we had to cover 8 miles when we started covering water faster, stopping to put time in at spots that looked especially good. When we took a break for a shore launch CrazyCrawler decided to soak a worm from the bank and picked up a 30” eel. Over the day the variety of fish included smallmouth and largemouth bass, red-eye rockbass, perch, carp, suckers, and an eel. I also my lures followed by a few pike but none of them took the bait.

Some interesting artwork on the bridge pilings

After lunch we realized we were way behind on covering the miles we had planned. So we picked up the pace even more and even did some trolling. About ¾ of a mile from the takeout I hooked up on my biggest fish of the day. The 20” river grown smallmouth made several acrobatic leaps 3 feet into the air. After the landing on the 3rd one my line went slack as the bass swam off to fight another day. But as expected this section of the river holds the potential for 4 lb plus smallmouth.

The Action slowed down after the mist cleared but there were still fish to be found

There was lots of life in this section of the river including this newly hatched snapping turtle

When we arrived at the planned take out we discovered, to our dismay, that the Riverview Picnic and Recreation Area has no actual launch ramp. We were able to push and drag our kayaks up the embankment and haul them to our vehicles, but this is not a location that I would recommend on planning an exit or entry. The river in the section we floated consisted of muddy bottoms and banks, there were areas of rip-rap around bridges and where former bridges were. These spots seemed to hold fish as well as some grassy flats we found along the banks. The water level we faced on this trip would be considered to be on the lower end of normal conditions. The water clarity was pretty good with visibility of 2-3 feet.