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The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England, flowing south from the Connecticut Lakes in northern New Hampshire, along the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, through western Massachusetts and central Connecticut discharging into Long Island Sound at Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Connecticut. It has a total length of 407 miles (655 km), and a drainage basin extending over 11,250 square miles (29,100 km2). The mean freshwater discharge into Long Island Sound is 19,600 cubic feet (560 m3) per second.
The river is tidal up to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, approximately 60 miles (97 km) from the mouth. The source of the river is the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. Some tributaries include the Ashuelot, West, Miller's, Deerfield, White, and Chicopee rivers. The Swift River, a tributary of the Chicopee, has been dammed and largely replaced by the Quabbin Reservoir which provides water to Boston.
The Connecticut River is a habitat to several species of anadromous fish, including the American shad, American eel, striped bass and the sea lamprey. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is undertaking an effort to repopulate the river with another species of migratory fish, the Atlantic salmon. For more than 200 years, Atlantic salmon have been extinct from the river due to damming. Several fish ladders and fish elevators have been built to allow fish to resume their natural migration upriver each spring.
The headwaters of the Connecticut River are at the northern tip of New Hampshire, near the Canadian border. Much of the beginning of the river's course in the town of Pittsburg is occupied by the Connecticut Lakes, a chain of deep, cold water lakes that are home to lake trout and landlocked salmon.
The river itself holds native brook trout, rainbow trout, large brown trout, shad, smallmouth bass, striped bass, carp, catfish, American eel, and several other species of game fish. Landlocked salmon make their way into the river during spring spawning runs of bait fish and during their fall spawn. The river has fly-fishing-only regulations on 5 miles (8.0 km) of river. Most of the river from Lake Francis south is open to lure and bait as well. Two tail-water dams provide cold river water for miles downstream making summer fishing on the Connecticut River excellent.