September 29, 2010
Try these top-rated New England vacation destinations for some relaxing (and productive) family-oriented angling outings this summer. (June 2007)
Photo by Bill Banaszewski.
When it comes to the annual family vacation, compromise usually means conflict. But that's not so for anglers heading to New England this year. Premier trout, salmon and bass waters are just a cast away from other family-friendly outdoor recreation, educational sites and amusements that will please everyone in the clan.
New England's fisheries are thriving, and it's hard not to find great fishing opportunities in every direction. Historical sites, unique museums and shops, wildlife parks and water parks are just a few of the family fun offerings to be found throughout the region. So pack your fishing tackle and load up the boat -- but don't forget the bathing suits, binoculars and cameras.
Here's a sampling of New England family fishing vacations you'll remember for years to come:
The Litchfield Hills region in the northwestern corner of the Nutmeg State is packed with great places for families to fish and explore.
Waters well worth fishing include Wononscopomuc Lake (Lakeville Lake) in Salisbury, Colebrook River Reservoir and Mount Tom Pond in Litchfield.
Bantam Lake in Morris and Litchfield is the largest natural lake in Connecticut. Its 947 acres are considered the state's best bet for really big northern pike. Bantam also has bass, brown trout and panfish.
The White Memorial Foundation owns much of the shoreline, with two rustic campgrounds including the 47-site Point Folly and 18-site Windmill Hill. Telephone reservations are not accepted. Interested vacationers may print an application off the Internet at WhitemorialCC.com or write to the White Memorial Foundation, Box 368, Litchfield, CT 06759.
Lake Waramaug, in Kent, Warren and Washington, offers 656 acres of family fishing fun. The Lake Waramaug State Park campground and beach are on the northwestern shore. Rental canoes are available.
Waramaug is stocked with brown trout and also has largemouth bass, big chain pickerel and plenty of panfish to keep the kids happy. There are concessions, hiking trails, nature programs and 78 campsites. For more information, call 1-860-868-2592.
For a taste of local cultural heritage, visit the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington. On display are art and artifacts dating back 10,000 years.
For details, call 1-860-868-0518, or visit BirdStone.com.
In Danbury, the Military Museum of Southern New England has life-sized interior exhibits, World War II models, outdoor tank displays and heavy machinery. For more information, call (203) 790-9277.
Or in Brookfield, visit the Mother Earth Gallery and Mining Company where children can dig for gemstones and fossils. For additional details, visit MotherEarthCrystals.com, or call (203) 775-6272.
In Woodbury, learn more about Mother Nature at the Flanders Nature Center-Land Trust. The Van Vleck Farm, Hetzel and Whittemore sanctuaries have hiking trails, a nature center, seasonal farm and garden programs, as well as art and educational programs.
For details, call (203) 263-3711.
Or, check out the Action Wildlife Foundation in Goshen. More than 350 exotic animals live in this 100-acre park, which also has a petting zoo, museum, picnic area and hay rides on the weekends. Call 1-860-482-4465 for more information.
For a different sort of sightseeing adventure, call Mooney Time Hot Air Balloons in Woodbury at (203) 263-0167. Or visit the Danbury Railway Museum to see vintage locomotives and catch a train at the restored 1903 station. Call them at (203) 778-8337, or log onto Danbury.com.
At North American Outdoor Adventures, families can go rafting over rapids or they may opt for the more scenic route. Call 1-800-727-4379, or NaWhiteWater.com.
In Cornwall Bridge, take a guided fly-fishing trip with Housatonic River Outfitters at 1-860-672-1010. Or in Cornwall, try the Housatonic Anglers at 1-860-672-4457.
In Middlebury, kids will love the Quassy Amusement Park. This 20-acre family playground on Lake Quassapaug offers over 30 rides and games.
Also check out Saturation Station, an interactive water attraction. The park has a petting zoo, carousel, swimming, boat rides and food concessions. For details, call (203) 758-2913, or visit Quassy.com.
For more Connecticut fishing information, call 1-860-424-3474, or visit Dep.state.ct.us. For travel information, call 1-888-288-4748, or visit www.ctvisit.com.
For information on camping throughout the state of Connecticut, visit Dep.state.ct.us/stateparks/.
It's hard to come much closer to the ideal family fishing destination than Maine's Sebago Lake in Casco. The big lake is legendary for its excellent fishing for togue, landlocked salmon and bass.
Covering 28,771 acres, Sebago is the second-largest lake in Maine as well as the deepest, with a maximum depth of 305 feet. The Muddy, Sticky and Songo rivers, along with the 11-mile Long Lake, can all be accessed from Sebago by way of the Songo Locks.
Boaters must be mindful of the weather on Sebago. When the winds come from the south, there can be up to four feet of chop between you and the shore!
Stop by Naples Bait and Tackle and ask Dave Garcia where the fish are biting. He's been in business here for 25 years.
Point Sebago Resort covers 800 acres on Sebago Lake. There are tent sites, RV sites and trailer rentals, plus a wide variety of vacation rental homes. A typical home has plenty of room to spread out -- a master bedroom on one end, a bedroom with two twin beds on the other end, a bathroom, kitchen and living area (with futon).
Protected coves provide anxiety-free wading and swimming for children at five beaches, with space to paddle around in kayaks. A well-equipped marina provides rental boats and slips of various sizes. Because the big lake's coves are sheltered from the wind, the water is warmer, too!
The resort features mini-golf, supervised children's activities, tennis and volleyball courts, horseshoes, shuffleboard, a camp store, an 18-hole golf course and plentiful buffet meals. Fishing, golfing and other family packages are available. For more information, call (207) 655-7948, or visit Pointsebago.com.
Sebago Lake State Park offers sand beaches, extensive wooded areas, 250 campsites, hiking and biking trails and boat access. For more details, visit Maine.gov/doc/parks/, or call (207) 693-6613.
Wildlife lovers should check out the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. The park features more than 25 species of native Maine wildlife, interpretive hiking trails, an interactive visitor's center and a snack shack. Anglers will definitely want a peek at the fish pool! To learn more details, call (207) 657-4977, Extension 1, or you can visit MaineWildlifePark.com.
Nearby Freeport offers world-class outlet shopping. Visit the Desert of Maine, which includes the 1797 William Tuttle Farm and museum, sand-art displays and opportunities for children to hunt for gemstones.
For details, call (207) 865-6962 or visit DesertOfMaine.com.
Sign up for Atlantic Seal Cruises from the Freeport Town Wharf by calling (207) 865-6112. Or visit that sportsman's mecca, L.L. Bean, Inc., where outdoor sports enthusiasts can find gear for every adventure imaginable, and can also sign up for mini-sessions in kayaking, fly-casting, archery or clay shooting.
For more information, call 1-888-552-3261, or visit LLBean.com.
York Harbor offers miles of surf fishing for striped bass and excellent offshore action for stripers and bluefish. Stripers migrate along Maine's rocky shoreline in May and October. In July and August, the fishing remains good offshore and off rocky outcroppings at dusk.
Anglers with boat access will want to head for Boon Island Ledge, one mile beyond Boon Island Light, which is six miles offshore. Fishing is also good in the nearby York and Piscataqua rivers.
For charter trips, try Ugly Anne out of Ogunquit at (207) 646-7202, Bigger 'N Better at (207) 363-7406, or the Nor'Easter out of Wells Harbor at (207) 646-3758.
For family-friendly lodging, try Camp Eaton on Route 1A, where vacationers will find RV and tent sites. Visit CampEaton.com, or call (207) 363-3424.
Just down the road is York Harbor Motel and Cottages at (207) 363-4037, or YorkHarborMotel.com. Both accommodations are within walking distance of the beach, which offers some excellent surf-fishing opportunities.
Take a ride with the York Trolley Company. The York Beach Shuttle route costs two bucks for a round trip. (Children under three ride free.) Their York Sightseeing Tour is a great way to become familiar with the roads and sights without battling summer traffic.
The York Trolley Company also offers a number of excursions including a naval history tour, a lobster cruise, whale watching, a transportation museum tour and a visit to Water Country Water Park.
For details, call (207) 748-3030 or visit YorkTrolley.com.
Be sure to visit Nubble Light or Boon Island Light. Nubble is said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the world, while the Boon Island light is Maine's tallest.
While at Nubble, sample Brown's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream. Take Norton Farm's horse and buggy ride along the scenic shores of Short Sands Beach. For more information, call (207) 451-0240, or log on to NortonFarmCarriageRides.com.
Guided sea kayak tours are available through Harbor Adventures at HarborAdventures.com, or (207) 363-8466. Or try Coastal Maine Outfitting Company at (207) 363-0181.
For unique antiques and souvenirs, visit the York Village Marketplace, with 125 dealer spaces on three floors. Call (207) 363-4830, or go to YorkVillageMarketplace.com for details.
The Museums of Old York include America's oldest jail (Old Goal, 1719), Jefferds' Tavern (1754), the Old Schoolhouse (1745) and several other historical buildings. For more information, call (207) 363-4794 or visit OldYork.com.
Or take a candlelit walking tour of Historic York Village with Ghostly Tours at www.ghostlytours.com, or (207) 363-0000. Call (207) 363-4911, or visit YorkZoo.com for more details.
For more information on southern Maine vacation opportunities, call the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce at (207) 363-5131, or visit GatewayToMaine.com.
For fishing information, call the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at (207) 287-8000, or visit Maine.gov/ifw/.
For travel information, you can go to VisitMaine.com, or call the Maine Office of Tourism at 1-888- 624-6345.
The northeast corner of the Granite State abuts the nearby White Mountains. This tiny region, bordered by Maine, Vermont and Quebec, is replete with streams and rivers, including the mighty Connecticut River. First and Second Connecticut lakes are here, along with Lake Francis, Back Lake, Nash Bog Pond and many more. Find quality trout in the Androscoggin River or fish for lunkers in the Connecticut River from the dam at Second Connecticut Lake to the upstream side of the logging bridge on Magalloway Road, and then from the bridge on that road all the way to the inlet at Green Point on First Connecticut Lake.
Paradise Point Cottages are eight miles from Errol on the shores of Lake Umbagog, close to the public boat landing. Each cottage features a picnic table and fireplace. Free docking is available, along with swings, horseshoe pits and san
Lake Umbagog is known as a fine smallmouth bass fishery. The area is great for wildlife watching, too. Because the Lake Umbagog Wildlife Refuge includes lands surrounding the lake and the Magalloway River, the best access to the refuge is by boat.
Shoreline campsites, operated by state and private landowners, offer numerous camping options. Visit NhParks.state.nh.us/parkops/parks/umbagog.html, or you can phone (603) 271-3628.
For other lodging options, contact the Errol Chamber of Commerce by calling (603) 482-3906 or visiting UmbagogChamberCommerce.com.
Colebrook, known as "A Village with a View," is a great central location for family fun at the junction of the Connecticut and Mohawk rivers. The wilderness around the town is open for hiking, fishing and watching wildlife.
The Mohawk Valley Camping Area sits on 14 acres along the Mohawk River. Electric and water hookups are available, as are shelters and tent sites. Swimming, on-site fishing and private moose-watching tours are available by calling (603) 237-5756.
If a softer bed appeals, the Notch View Country Inn and RV resort has rooms as well as RV rentals. Notch View has a heated in-ground pool, a fishing pond, two playgrounds and a basketball court. Call (603) 237-4237.
Mohawk Cottages are adjacent to the river where there is some great fishing. Cabins have two bedrooms plus a sleeper sofa in the living room, kitchenettes and cable TV. Call (603) 237-4310.
New England's fisheries are thriving, and it's hard not to find great fishing opportunities in every direction.
Take a 40-minute hike to climb the Magalloway Fire Tower off Route 3 in Pittsburg. The view covers four counties and takes away whatever breath you may have left after the hike!
Visit Garfield Falls off the Magalloway Lookout Tower Road. Many of the region's lakes and ponds offer swimming and boating access, and the Connecticut River offers many places to paddle, with a few rapids and a dam in West Stewartstown.
Visit the Poore Homestead, a historical farm turned museum. Or go to Haynes Homestead in East Colebrook to pick fresh berries and vegetables.
For information on places to stay and things to do, contact the North Country Chamber of Commerce at (603) 237-8939. For fishing information, visit Wildlife.State.Nh.us, or call the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at (603) 271-2501.
For travel information, visit VisitNh.gov, or call the Office of Travel and Tourism at (603) 271-2665.
The Green Mountain State has a wide variety of fishing and camping opportunities statewide. Southern Vermont has several excellent family-friendly campgrounds nestled right up to the shores of prime fishing waters.
Jamaica State Park's 772 acres sit on a bend in the West River, about half a mile from Jamaica's town center. There are 43 tent-trailer sites and 18 lean-tos, a nature center, a swimming area and a hiking trail that follows the river and branches off toward Hamilton Falls, which is one mile up on Cobb Brook.
Cobb Brook enters the West River upstream from the park. Between the brook and the river's combination of deep slow running water and shallow fast ripples, anglers will find plenty of places to wet a line!
The river provides great paddling and tubing. Or hike the old railroad bed leading along the river to Ball Mountain Dam.
One of the state's best mountain biking trails runs parallel to the river north of the dam, too.
Area attractions include the Robert Todd Lincoln home in Manchester, a theater in Weston, the Alpine Slide in Bromley and the Townshend Dam Recreation Area.
Emerald Lake State Park sits on 430 acres. There are 105 campsites on a heavily wooded ridge just above Emerald Lake, the headwaters of Otter Creek. The park has a small beach with a snack bar, miles of hiking trails and boat rentals (non-motorized only) so that families can access offshore fishing holes.
More great hiking is nearby in the Green Mountain National Forest.
If your family has had enough of outdoor recreation or needs a rainy-day plan, Manchester's many shops, museums, golf courses and other attractions are just a few miles away.
For more information on activities in the Manchester region, call the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce, log on to ManchesterVermont.net, or call (802) 362-6313, Extension 15.
For fishing information, call the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department at (802) 241-3700, or visit VtFishAndWildlife.com.
For travel information, visit the Vermont Department of Tourism at Travel-Vermont.com, or phone (802) 828-3237.
Find more about New England fishing and hunting at: NewEnglandGameandFish.com