Howdie old neighbor... I cut my ff teeth on Bigelow Brook, Fenton River, Mount Hope River and the Willimantic River back in the early 70's. I now visit the Willi TMA (Trout Management Area) a few times each year. It's only 15 miles from my house....
You also mentioned the Farmington, I have fished it a little.
Hous in July:
What do you mean by park your family for a couple days?
In May/June the Hous IMHO is the best trout fishing river in New England... As you get into June, smallies and trout active. July and August the water is so warm, the trout stack up in the thermal refuses provided by feeder streams and fishing within a 100 feet of the stream mouths is prohibited. But the smallie get realll active and will chase surface offerings all over the place...
There is another boat ramp just south of the I91 bridge in Windsor Locks. I was thinking of that one first as a take out spot. If that works, we could always do another section from there to Bissell Bridge.
The possibility is there for a Shad/Striper/Smallie trip, but its a timing thing. The stripers follow the herring up the river in May and are available during the shad run. There is supposedly some good striper fishing in the Enfield - Hartford areas at this time. I did talk with someone at a show who said he preferred looking for stripers in June in the Windsor Locks/Windsor areas of the river. This would be a real timing thing, when the shad and stripers first start running, the river is high and muddy. I will not take a canoe out there then, it wouldn't be any fun to have the canoe run over by a tree floating down the river... But, rainfall dependant, once in June the river typically gets to a flow that I would canoe in. I was also told by someone (fish story) that he witnessed a guy with a flyrod take 35 smallie's on 35 casts in Windsor Locks during July I believe. The CT river can be a productive shad, striper, and smallie river.
Sounds like there maybe a plan coming together here. Hold that thought..