Click on one of the links below to jump to the related section of this webpage.
Connecticut River Links
Canoe Portage Service
Connecticut River Links
(all links open in a new window, and are independent of this site)
CT River Watershed Council
Silvio Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge
USGS River Gauge Station - Montague
USGS River Gauge Station - Holyoke
Anadromous Fish Counts - Holyoke Dam
This boater information brochure produced by HG&E highlights many of the public use areas and public access areas located on the Connecticut River.
Places to Visit on the Connecticut River - Boating Brochure (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
This poster produced by HG&E highlights many of the recreational areas along the Connecticut River basin.
Public Use Areas Along the Connecticut River Poster (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
Canoe Portage Service
The Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HG&E) provides a canoe portage service around the Holyoke Dam. In order to utilize this service, prior arrangements are required and can be made by calling HG&E offices at (413) 536-9472 during our normal business hours. (Monday-Friday from 8:30AM to 4:30PM weekdays excluding Massachusetts State holidays)
A downriver canoe journey is a great experience and we hope our efforts will add to your enjoyment of the Connecticut River.
You may also wish to download a copy of our map outlining the many river access points throughout the Connecticut River Greenway State Park. Just click on the link below:
Connecticut River Access Point Map (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
Rare species are a warning sign that something is wrong with our environment. We can preserve the special nature of the Connecticut River by thoughtfully sharing it with the plants and animals that call it home. Click here to download a descriptive sign about the rare species of the Connecticut River. (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
The Puritan Tiger Beetle
Did you know that, pound for pound, the adult Puritan tiger beetle is the fastest land animal on earth? Puritan tiger beetles are found in only two places in the world - the Chesapeake Bay and the Connecticut River. The Puritan tiger beetle is so rare that it is legally protected by state and federal endangered species laws.
Click here to download a descriptive sign about protecting the habitat of the Puritan tiger beetle. (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
Click here to download a brochure about the Puritan tiger beetle. (opens in a new window, requires Adobe Acrobat to view)
Every spring, usually in late April, anadromous (ah-‘nad-rah-mus) fish, including the American Shad, Sea Lamprey and Atlantic Salmon, migrate upstream in the Connecticut River from their ocean homes to spawn. Information follows on three of these anadromous fish.
Fish Passage Count Hotline
The US Fish & Wildlife Service Connecticut River Coordinator’s Office operates a fish passage hotline that provides counts of the anadromous fish that pass over the Holyoke Dam during the Spring season. The number for the recorded hotline is:
Information about additional fish species are available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site. (opens in a new window)
In addition, we post a weekly count on out Hadley Falls Fish Lift page.
The Lifecycle of the American Shad
Around mid-April, adult shad begin their spawning migration in the Connecticut River. After four to six years at sea, these mature fish journey upstream to their native spawning areas. They usually choose shallow water in the main stem of the river.
After spawning, the adults return to the ocean where they migrate northward to spend the summer and fall in the Gulf of Maine. The fertilized eggs that they have left behind hatch in about six days, obtaining nourishment from a yolk sac.
In summer, once able to feed itself, the immature shad is called a “fry”. Fry spend four to six months in the river. The cooling waters of autumn signal the fry to swim to the ocean. By the time they reach the ocean they are three to six inches long.
Young shad join adult shad in the ocean and migrate southward. They feed mainly on plankton until they mature and are ready to continue the cycle.
The Story of the Atlantic Salmon
Most Atlantic salmon begin their spawning migration in the spring, although some migrate in the fall. Spawning itself takes place in October or November, with the female seeking out a gravel stream bottom to build her “redd” (nest). Eggs fertilized by the male’s milt develop over the winter and hatch in early spring. After spawning, the “kelts” (adults) either swim back to the ocean or remain in the river until spring.
Newly hatched “alevins” remain in the gravel redd until May or June. As they feed and grow they develop from “fry” to “fingerlings” (3-4 inches) to “parr” (4-5 inches). The parr soon loose their vertical bars and turn to silver. At this stage, they are called “smolts” and are ready to migrate downstream to the ocean.
Once there, they swim to feeding areas off the coasts of Canada and Greenland. After 1-2 years in the ocean, the salmon return to the rivers of their birth to spawn.
The Sea Lamprey
Sea Lampreys, fish that resemble eels, travel as many as 200 miles upriver to spawning areas. Considering they only travel two to three miles per day, this takes them a long time.
Lampreys live in the ocean during the winter and can be found from Greenland to Florida. They undergo great physiological changes when they enter fresh water, including going blind. They orient to the current as they move upstream and attach themselves to rocks and dams to rest.
Lampreys, which weigh from two to three pounds and can be up to three feet long, spend their first four to six years in fresh water, burrowed into the mud. After migrating downstream, they spend two to four years in the ocean before returning to fresh water to breed.
The female lamprey creates a gravel nest for the 200,000 eggs it lays when spawning. Lampreys use their disk-shaped mouths to carry stones up to four inches in diameter to form a semicircle to catch the floating eggs below the spawning site. Mating occurs during a 48-hour period; and both adults die shortly after spawning is completed.