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2005 Trout Outlook

By Patricia L. Hamilton
Principal Biologist
April, 2005

For many sportsmen and women the opening day of the trout season on April 9th heralds the unofficial start of spring. Nearly 200 ponds, streams, and lakes throughout New Jersey have been replenished with more than 170,000 trout during the three-week period leading up to this eventful day. While some trout anglers will have their equipment ready to go weeks in advance of this date, others will be scrambling with just hours to go before the 8 a.m. opener.

Angler with nice trout Anglers will ponder where to wet their lines on opening day, perhaps more so this year, as the spring rains have arrived with a vengeance. Last minute adjustments to the trout stocking schedule were made during the week before April 9 to ensure that trout were stocked at traditional locations in time for opening day. Stream anglers may find the trout have spread out, more so than usual, due to the high water conditions. On the plus side, the rains helped to break-up the late-winter ice cover on north Jersey lakes and ponds

WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR?

  • A new trout-stocked water!

    Green Turtle Pond, located in the Wanaque Wildlife Management Area in Passaic County, has been added to our trout stocking program. This attractive 40-acre lake has plenty of parking, a gravel boat launch (electric-only motors allowed) and is surrounded by woodlands. Not only will the pond be stocked with 1,520 trout this spring, it was also stocked with 800 rainbow trout this past winter. These rainbows were tagged with jaw tags so that we could evaluate the success of this new fishery, and anglers are asked to report the capture of these tagged trout at the reporting station near the boat ramp. The pond can be reached by taking Awosting Road, off Rt. 511, near Hewitt. (Anglers can report on any catches in any waters by completing the online Angler Survey.)

  • Two waters dropped from the spring trout stocking program

    Two waters, Monksville Reservoir (Passaic County) and Mill Brook (Morris County), were dropped from the spring stocking program, effective this year. At Monksville Reservoir, poor angler returns of tagged trout and a decline in the holdover trout fishery factored into the decision to terminate the stocking of rainbow and brown trout.

    However, all may not be lost, as lake trout fingerlings were experimentally stocked in the reservoir last fall. It is hoped that over time this deep-dwelling trout species will fare than browns or rainbows by having less contact with walleyes and other predatory warmwater fishes (bass, pickerel, and muskies) that inhabit the reservoir. Anglers are reminded that Green Turtle Pond is nearby offers a new opportunity to fish for stocked trout. Mill Brook, a tributary to the Rockaway River, has developed access problems over time and was dropped from the stocking program. This small stream is host to a reproducing population of brown trout and anglers able to find access to the stream can still fish for these trout.

  • A major change in the spring stocking schedule - 40,000 trout will be stocked during the 1st week after opening day in 70 ponds and lakes statewide.

    For the first time in decades, 70 lakes and ponds will receive trout during the week immediately following opening day. Traditionally this week was reserved for stocking the 16 northern and coastal streams having closed in-season stocking dates. This change will give anglers more opportunities to fish for freshly stocked trout early on, particularly in the central and southern regions of the state, as each weekly stocking has been moved up one week earlier.

    Trout will now be available to anglers over a longer period of time before the onset of summer and warm water temperatures. This change will also reduce crowding and improve fish health at the hatchery by shipping trout earlier, and thereby free up valuable growing space in the hatchery raceways. Anglers that intend to fish a trout-stocked pond or lake should check the weekly stocking schedule (www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/trtstk05.htm) when planning their outings.

  • Where are the big ones? Check out this year's Bonus Broodstock ponds and lakes.

    The excited cry of "Big Fish On!" will be heard more frequently by anglers fishing one of the trout-stocked waters slated to receive bonus broodstock trout. Broodstock trout, or "breeders", as anglers like to say, weigh 3 to 5 pounds each, and range from 14 to 19 inches. Each spring 4,000 to 6,000 broodstock trout mixed in with the standard production trout (that average 10.5 inches) as the hatchery trucks are loaded with trout. Stocked throughout the state, primarily before the opening day of the spring trout season, these big trout create quite a stir when hooked, and as an angler battles to land the "big one". Approximately two percent of the trout stocked in each waterbody in the preseason and early season are the larger broodstock. This may not sound like a tremendous amount, but when you consider a river such as the Musconetcong gets about 25,000 trout during pre-season and early in-season stocking, that amounts to 500 big fish out there for anglers to catch.

    The Bonus Broodstock Program, initiated last year, targets a handful of waters that receive five to six times more broodstock trout than usual. A different set of nine ponds and small lakes will receive 30 to 50 of these huge trout (rather than the usual 5 to 10), increasing the odds that anglers fishing one of these waters will have the thrill of a lifetime. Find out where these water are by viewing www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bonus_brdstk05.htm.

  • More brown trout stocked later in the spring

    Late season trout anglers can look forward to catching more brown trout this year, now that a greater proportion of trout reared by the Pequest Trout hatchery are brown trout. Last year the hatchery upped the production of brown trout (and compensated by rearing fewer rainbows), and the distribution of these additional browns kicks in this spring. Many anglers prefer the challenge of fishing for brown trout because they tend to be more wary, yet aggressive, than brookies and rainbows.

    Brown trout also tolerate slightly warmer water and seem to holdover better in streams that support trout year round. Streams that are stocked in late May will receive more brown trout than in the past, and should provide great fishing through the summer months and beyond.

    ADDITIONAL LINKS

    arrow Spring 2005 Trout Fishing Information
    arrow Spring 2005 Trout Allocations with Day Stocked
    arrow Places to Fish - Ponds
    arrow Places to Fish - Streams
    arrow "Hook-a-Winner" Program
    arrow Sea Run Brown Trout
    arrow License Information
    arrow General Fishing Regulations
     
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    Department of Environmental Protection
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    Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

    Last Updated: April 7, 2005