The MDC owns over 6,000 acres of watershed forest land along the West Branch of the Farmington River surrounding the West Branch Reservoir and the Colebrook River Lake Reservoir. Both reservoirs serve as a future water supply for the MDC.
The West Branch Reservoir (or Hogback) is owned by the MDC and used for river flow augmentation, recreational boating and fishing, hydroelectric power generation and is held in reserve for future drinking water supply. Colebrook River Lake is a multipurpose water resource impoundment built for flood control, water supply, low flow augmentation and fishery enhancement. MDC operates a hydroelectric power facility at the Colebrook River Dam.
Releases from the MDC's West Branch
The watershed forest lands are open to hunting subject to applicable Connecticut and Massachusetts laws and regulations. State wildlife officials should be consulted regarding hunting season schedules and other applicable regulations. Much of the property is accessible by foot for hiking, bird watching and nature study. Motorized recreational vehicles (ATVs, dirt bikes) are not allowed on these protected watershed lands.
Fishing, ice-fishing and boating are allowed on both the West Branch Reservoir and Colebrook River Lake. The West Branch of the Farmington River is an important Trout Management Area.
The West Branch Farmington River Trout Management Area (TMA) was established by the CT DEP Inland Fisheries Division in 1988 in cooperation with the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and a number of other land owners along the river corridor. This 3.6 mile section of river, that includes an approximate 1 mile long reach on the MDC "Greenwoods Property," is located between the Route 219 Bridge in New Hartford and the power lines 1 mile upstream of the Route 318 Bridge in Pleasant Valley.
Since its inception, the TMA has developed into a blue ribbon destination fishery that supports outstanding fishing opportunities for large stocked brown trout and rainbow trout (12-18 inches). Based on annual fall electrofishing surveys conducted by the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division, there are also moderate numbers of wild brown trout that can reach lengths in excess of 24 inches long. The TMA is a year-round catch and release area with a barbless hook requirement for all tackle. In a typical year anglers spend 40,000-45,000 hours fishing the TMA and catch an average of 1 fish per hour.
Boating access to the West Branch Reservoir is at the west side of the Goodwin Dam. A car-top boat launch and gravel ramp is available, along with parking for 30 cars, and chemical toilet. Boat trailers are not allowed in the water. No water contact sports are allowed. Swimming is prohibited. Anglers can fish from MDC property at the car-top access area and along the entire western shore. The area is closed at night. The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and MDC stock about 5,000 catchable brown trout annually in the spring. Smallmouth bass, rock bass and yellow perch are present. State regulations apply for all species. The West Branch (Goodwin) Reservoir is located two miles north of Riverton.
Boating access to the Colebrook River Lake is at the public boat launch owned by the Army Corps located on the western shore, near the intersection of Beech Hill Road in Colebrook. Facilities at the launch include a ramp with concrete slabs, parking for 50 cars and chemical toilets. Boating speed limit is 20 mph and no water contact sports are allowed. Much of the shoreline is open to public fishing, except for a 100 foot area immediately adjacent to the Colebrook Dam. The State and MDC also stock trout in Colebrook River Lake. Popular species include rock bass, smallmouth bass and stocked trout. Colebrook is a flood control reservoir that experiences extreme water fluctuations, which can affect the fisheries. Colebrook River Lake is located on Route 8 approximately five miles north of Winsted.
The MDC owns another parcel of land farther south along the West Branch of the Farmington River known as the Greenwoods property, which a very popular recreational area. This roughly 400 acre parcel is located in New Hartford and Barkhamsted and straddles the River. It is maintained as a wildlife habitat area in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division. Vehicle access and parking areas are available on both east and west sides of the River.
This is also a very popular Trout Management Area.
A wheelchair-accessible fishing pier is conveniently located on the east side of the River in the Pleasant Valley section of Barkhamsted, one-half mile south of the iron bridge on Route 318/181.
The area is also open to hiking, bird watching and nature study. Dogs on leash are welcome. Bicycling and motorized recreational vehicles are strictly prohibited.
The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection stocks pheasant and limited hunting is allowed according to applicable Connecticut laws and regulations. State wildlife officials should be consulted regarding hunting season schedules and other applicable regulations.