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Whether you want to paddle a gentle canoe, dare the rapids, or cast a line for trout, the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut is a prime destination.  The beautiful tree-lined Housatonic River, which roughly parallels the western border of Litchfield County, is rated one of the top trout fishing areas in the Northeast, and is a top lure for paddlers and rafters, as well.  More paddling adventures await further north on the Farmington River.

The Cornwall area on the Housatonic River is nirvana for fishermen.  The season begins in mid-April and is at its peak by early May.  Brown, brook, and rainbow trout are found in abundance, drawn by the river's generous hatches of insects in spring.  Old timers have their favorite spots, affectionately know by such names as Sand Hole, Spring Hole, or The Can.

Several outfitters can help to insure success for anglers, whether beginners or old pros.  Housatonic Anglers Guide Service (860-672-4457) specializes in guiding and instruction.  Housatonic River Outfitters  (860-672-1010) and Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop & Lodge (860-672-6064) both in Cornwall Bridge, offer equipment, as well as classes and experienced guides.

Breadloaf Moutain Lodge and Cottages, adjacent to Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop, offers a Classic New England Orvis Fly Fishing Experience package that includes luxury accommodations for one night in a newly built cottage across from the Housatonic River, continental breakfast, a half-day wade trip and a country box lunch. The package is $199 per person based on double occupancy and is available mid-week May 1-Oct. 31.  A float trip on the river can be added for an additional $30.  For details see

The Housatonic is also a very popular river for paddling, offering placid easy stretches of flat water much of the way--until the churning Class III and IV rapids at the Cornwall Bridge, which are especially challenging in early spring.  Those who prefer their rivers gentle can choose a take out point before the rapids begin and watch as more daring paddlers defy the swirling water.  Clarke Outdoors on Route 7 in West Cornwall (860-672-6365) rents canoes, kayaks, or rafts for a journey down a prime 10-mile section of the river beginning at Falls Village, and arrange pick-ups at specified take-out points.

The West Branch of the Farmington River in the American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted, designated a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service, is the center point of more river-based recreation including canoeing, kayaking and tubing.  Main Stream Canoes and Kayaks in New Hartford (860-693-6791), located on the Farmington, offers canoe and kayak guided trips and rentals.  Mountains Unlimited Adventures in Waterbury (888-240-6976) has rentals and trips on both the Housatonic and Farmington Rivers.  Connecticut Outdoors in Oakville (860) 274-6213 located near White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield rents kayaks and canoes for on the water adventures.

For more information about fishing and paddling and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the Litchfield Hills, write to the Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their website at

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