Group of Fishermen Nailed for Unlicensed Saltwater Fishing in Westport

Many sport fishermen are unaware that a license is required to fish in Connecticut saltwater, according Eric Johnson, owner of Westport Outfitters.


Three Norwalk residents were cited for fishing without a license Tuesday after police found them fishing at the mouth of the Saugatuck River without the proper permits, according to Marine Division Officer Bob Myer.

Connecticut instituted a law in 2009 that requires sport fishermen who fish in saltwater purchase a $10 Marine Waters Fishing License, according to Town Clerk Patricia Strauss, who issues all licenses in Westport, including marriage/civil union licenses, dog licenses, and fish and game licenses.

“It used to be you needed a license to fish in fresh water only. Just recently the law changed,” Straus said, adding that some fishermen are still unaware of the new law.

Eric Johnson, owner of , a one-stop shop for all marine and fishing needs, said he had three customers from Michigan come into his store for fishing equipment Wednesday.

“I asked them, ‘You guys have licenses, right?’” Johnson said.

The fishermen were completely unaware they needed licenses, but purchased three after Johnson informed them of the law.

“I think part of the issue stems from how the licensing program was instituted. The marketing of it has been very lax in my opinion,” Johnson said. “People just are not aware.”

After the law was enacted in 2009 it was eliminated prior to the end of that fishing season and many fisherman, according to Johnson, thought that they were entitled to a refund. The price for the license was about $40 at the time. In 2010 the law was reinstated at $10, which is where it stands today. Johnson said many fishermen have some resentment about how Connecticut fisherman licensing laws have been carried out recently.

“Unless you were proactively looking to see if you needed a license or not, it (licensing information) was hard to come by,” Johnson said, adding that the information is on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website.

The demarcation line in Westport is at the Route 1 overpass, meaning that any part of the Saugatuck River south of Route 1 is considered saltwater. As a rule of thumb for most towns in Connecticut, the demarcation line for saltwater fishing is any portion of a river that is south of I-95, according to Johnson.

Westport police ticketed Alberto Dias, 39, Mario Gonzales, 38, and Eutiquio Pacheco-Flores, according to a police report. They were found at the mouth of the Saugatuck River, police said. That location is well below the demarcation line, according to Johnson.

Johnson said Westport Outfitters does its part to make sure fisherman are properly licensed, although they benefit nothing from the transaction. The town of Westport receives one dollar for every license that they sell at town hall, according to Strauss. 

Concerned Parent September 04, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I'm not going to get bent over this...The only reason why I would choose to fish in the LI Sound would be for my kids, which are exempt because they are all under 16. If I want to do some recreational fishing and pay for a license, I'll go to RI or MA and fish from the ocean
RONALD M GOLDWYN September 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
There is an exception in the law for residents of CT OVER 65 for a free lifetime Hunting, or Fishing or Camping permit. These are obtained at your local City Clerks office. For fishing there is no distinction between fresh or saltwater. As for the fees collected, they normally are used for the cost of enforcement and for the restocking of CT waters with fish so that the sport may continue. My oldest grandson never had to buy a rad and reel because each year at annual fishing contests run for kids here in Milford in won a new rod and reel as well as a trophy. Since becoming 16, four years ago, he has had to obtain his own fishing license. At the City Clerk offices and most bait and tackle shops have available for free, an annual state publication listing all applicable laws and the fish found in CT waters.
John Pasnau September 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Um, so 3 Hispanic guys get busted for fishing without a license in Westport. I wonder how many people were fishing in that part of Westport that day. I wonder how many licensees Westport Police Marine Division Officer Bob Myer checked that day. Does something smell fishy to you?
Starla September 05, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Regarding license fees and where the money usually ends up, in the general treasury? I am so not surprised. The same thing goes for the various lotteries. Originally designed to help education, it probably still does. But over the decades, our local and state lawmakers have been steadily chipping away at how much funding public education actually gets.
Cliff Cuming September 05, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Tax the weight of the fish actually caught and not released.
Sue September 05, 2012 at 01:17 PM
My family vacations in MA and does alot of saltwater fishing. In MA, one also needs a fishing license for saltwater. My husband got a warning last summer for not having one. I don't know about RI
Concerned Parent September 05, 2012 at 01:41 PM
@Sue, I know in RI that if you are under age that no license is requried...Only adults are required to have a license, even for recreational fishing. For me, it's about my kids and I'm ony there to help guide them and maybe at times take the pole to show them something.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something