Seaside Park, Waterford, CT - The Fisherman

Seaside Park, Waterford, CT

2018 11 Seaside Park
Chart courtesy of Navionics.

An excellent location with a variety of angling opportunities for both shore and boat anglers alike.

Residing on 36 acres of prime Connecticut shoreline in Waterford, CT, Seaside Park has a dark-but-fascinating history. Originally constructed in the 1930s to treat children with tuberculosis, it was the country’s first heliotropic (gaining wellbeing from sunlight) healing center and called the Seaside Sanatorium. At the time, the medical community believed abundant sunshine and salt air had a recovery benefit for the deadly lung disease.

In 1958, Seaside had a three-year-stint as a nursing home for the elderly, when it was named the Seaside Geriatric Hospital, after which it was used to treat the mentally challenged until 1996 and called the Seaside Regional Center for the Mentally Retarded. Sadly, reports of physical abuse of its patients and an unusually high death rate brought light to the abhorrent living conditions, and the facility was closed and abandoned. The good news, however, is that the state has obtained the property and is planning to create a new coastal state park, the first in over 50 years.

The park rests between Harkness Memorial State Park and Goshen Point to the east and Pleasure Beach and Jordon Cove to the west. Public access is granted here, so you may fish off the beach or rocky structures but are prohibited from approaching within 30 feet of the buildings because they are in disrepair. All but one of the stone piers are below water at high tide and extremely slippery to walk on. Surfcasters have success plugging for blues and bass, and bait fishing on the bottom for porgies, blackfish and winter flounder. This area is not an Enhanced Opportunity Shore Fishing Program site yet, so reduced-length fish are a violation. Parking is permitted in the lot on the left side of Seaside Drive.

Fishing from a boat offers excellent opportunities off Seaside. The shoreline includes stretches of crescent sand and gravel beaches punctuated with multiple jetties of varying length. Currents sweep over the structures, so approach with caution, but they make excellent targets for early morning or evening plugging for blues and bass. Start casting above the mini rips and work your way down tide, pulling your lure across the current like an escaping baitfish.

The “bowls” off the beaches and between the jetties are great spots to drift or anchor for porgies and winter flounder. Although flounder numbers are down, this area is still one of the go-to places for hopes of a flattie fish fry. Anchoring in 15 to 30 feet of water around any of the numerous rocky structures produces tog, porgies and even an occasional triggerfish.

In the deeper water southwest of Seaside you’ll find stretches of good flukin’ water. Two-Tree Channel is an unusually deep passage for being near shore. Located between Two-Tree Island and Seaside, the depths of over 80 feet provide ideal fluke drifts, where you should work the edges of the drop-offs. Challenging conditions occur during the strength of the tide, so time your trips around slower-current periods.

The waters stretching from Millstone Point to Seaside and continuing over to Goshen Point are nicknamed “albacore alley.” This swath, slightly warmed by the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant’s warm-water outflow, funnels forage like peanut bunker, bay anchovies, silversides and small squid through the corridor, making it a false albacore draw each year. It’s well worth a look here on autumn mornings for working terns and those tell-tale, slashing, mini blitzes of albies. The run-and-gun approach casting tins like Deadly Dicks or soft plastics like the Zoom Super Fluke produce in these waters, which are conveniently sheltered from fall’s brisk northwest breezes. Hopefully, sometime soon we’ll have a new family state park so we can all enjoy this coastal gem.

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