FISHES OF THE CONNECTICUT RIVER
The fishes of the Connecticut River include members of three evolutionary lines
The jawless fish (Cyclostomata); the sea lamprey eel belongs to this ancient group.
The cartilage fish (Chondrichthyes); the dogfish shark occasionally visits the mouth of the
The bony or ray-finned fish (Osteichthyes); most of the fish fauna of the river belong to this
At the close of the last ice age and the draining of Lake Hitchcock about l2,000 ybp, the
Connecticut River came into being. This essentially fishless waterway was populated by species
from southern and coastal freshwater encironments. According to Whitworth (1996), perhaps 22
freshwater species immigrated into the Connecticut River basin. Interestingly, some of the
freshwater fish species that dominate the river did not get here "naturally" but were introduced by
humans. These fishes include: carp, northern pike, bowfin, rainbow trout, brown trout, channel
catfish, rock bass, bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white crappie, black crappie and
Some fishes must spend part of their lives in both fresh and salt water (diadromous species);
these species had less of a problem colonizing the Connecticut River after the last Ice Age.
Examples of diadromous fishes include shad, American eels, sea lampreys and salmon.
Hartel, K.E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional
Reports of the MCZ Fish Department (Harvard University), Number 2.
Whitworth, W.R. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural
History Survey of Connecticut. Second edition, Bulletin 114.
Conte Website for more information on fish and
in the Connecticut River.