There's a six-mile stretch of freestone river in northwestern Connecticut that, come October, rivals any trout stream in Montana. The cool weather brings a frenzied blue-winged olive hatch to the river, and thousands of brown and rainbow trout rise to the surface to sip flies from morning till night. Because the six-mile stretch of the Housatonic River above Cornwall Bridge is entirely catch and release, the biggest fish have been lurking, and growing, for years. The state Department of Environmental Protection a few years ago banned trout-killing controlled releases from an upstream dam, restoring the river to a natural-flowing state. Most anglers park at Housatonic Meadows State Park and fish the deep holes above Cornwall Bridge. The current is slow, wading is easy, and the fish are swimming, but you'll be shoulder to shoulder with the next guy. Head upstream to Turnip Island, where the river forks, and wade through fast, hip-high water to the far bank. It's there, in the slow eddies under overhanging trees, that you'll find the trout fins swirling.

More Information: Float the river with the Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop ($350; flyfishct.com). Stay in a private cabin at the Breadloaf Mountain Lodge out back ($295).