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2007 Fish Rescue Operation

by Craig Lemon
Hackettstown Hatchery Superintendent, with
Ed Washuta
Former NJ DFW Freshwater Fisheries Pathologist
May, 2007

For the second time in the past three years, heavy spring rains caused a problem with fish escapement from Greenwood Lake. During the first week of May, the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries received several reports from Muskies Inc. Chapter 22 members concerning large numbers of muskies and walleyes stranded in the upper pools of the Wanaque River just below the Greenwood Lake Dam.

On May 10th, in a cooperative effort between the Bureau's Lebanon Fisheries Lab, Hackettstown Hatchery and members of the MI 22 chapter, 21 muskellunge and 60 walleyes were collected by electrofishing and transported back into Greenwood Lake. This same situation that occurred in April of 2005 below the Greenwood Lake, Lake Hopatcong and Swartswood Lake dams. At that time, over 500 walleye and 8 muskies were electrofished and seined and transported back into their respective lakes. (See Operation Fish Rescue for details.)

Crew below Greenwood Lake spillway
Crew shocking pool below Greenwood Lake dam.
Click to enlarge

The muskies collected in 2007 ranged in size from 10 inches to about 48 inches, but the majority of them were between 35 and 40 inches long. Many of the walleyes were in the 3-5 pound range. Muskellunge and walleyes annually move into the shallow southern end of Greenwood Lake to spawn during the months of March and April when water temperatures are warming. The Greenwood Lake Dam is located near the southern end of the lake and figures into the mix as to why so many fish are being washed over the dam.

Many of the fish that were electrofished and returned to Greenwood Lake would have fallen victim to infection in the next couple of weeks due to lack of food supply and stress from warm water temperatures. This is another great example of what teamwork between the Division and Muskies Inc.Chapter 22 has been doing for years to make New Jersey's fishing better than it has ever been. Special thanks goes out to the dozen MI 22 guys that took off the day from work and helped carry the hundreds of pounds of fish up the steep banks of the Wanaque River to the hatchery tank truck.

Photos from the operations are linked from the thumbnail photos below - click to enlarge. Photos are courtesy of MI22 members Jon Russo and Tom Amels.
Crew shocking Wanaque River
Crew shocking Wanaque River.
Volunteers get fish up the bank
Volunteers get fish up the bank.
Carrying a net full of fish
Volunteer Stever Jefferies with net of walleye and muskies.
MI22 member Steve Scornavacca cradles a big muskie
MI22 member Steve Scornavacca cradles a muskie.
A muskie is released into Greenwood Lake
A muskie is released back into Greenwood Lake.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: May 14, 2007