2008 Trout Fishing Outlook
By Pat Hamilton
Principal Fisheries Biologist
March 14, 2008
As spring approaches, so too, does the opening day of New Jersey's
trout season. Many anglers have already marked their calendars for
the big day, Saturday, April 5 at 8 a.m. This day is the single, most
eagerly anticipated, day of the year for anglers who like to wet their
lines for trout. Fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and
spend time with family and friends. Fishing is easy! All the information
you need to get started trout fishing in New Jersey is right here.
This spring over 570,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout reared
at the Pequest Trout
Hatchery will be stocked into 89 streams and 90 ponds and
lakes throughout New Jersey. Nearly 1/3 of these trout (181,800)
will be stocked prior to opening day. Most of the spring-stocked
trout will average 10½ inches, but there's always a chance
of hooking one of the big broodstock trout that are also stocked
each spring. I'm betting that more than just a few of the 14
-16" long trout stocked last fall or winter are alive and
well, just waiting to be caught this spring. Since every county
has waters that are stocked with trout, trout fishing opportunities
are never too far away.
Here are a few highlights that will be of particular interest
to trout anglers this year. The statewide minimum size on
trout has been increased from 7 to 9 inches. The lake trout
regulation at Round Valley Reservoir has also changed significantly
- see page 20 of the Freshwater
Two new waters have been added to the stocking program
this year (Manny's Pond and Mountain Farm Pond in Hunterdon
County). and stocking has been expanded on two streams
(Rahway River, Essex County and Hohokus Brook,
Bergen County). Trout stocking resumes at Dahnert's Lake
in Garfield, Bergen County, and has been temporarily suspended
in two waters (Mill Pond, Bergen County and Harrisonville Lake,
Salem County). Two waters have been permanently dropped from
the stocking program (Barkers Mill Brook, Warren County, and
Bostwick Lake, Cumberland County) The spring trout allocations
for most waters have changed little from last year, with several
exceptions (Hohokus Brook, Rahway River, Wanaque River, and
Swartswood Lake), Nine waters will be stocked with bonus broodstock
Creek Lake was one location for bonus broodstock in 2007.
Photo courtesy Jim Velcheck - WCC volunteer
As of mid-March stream flows look good and everything is a "go"
in terms of trout stocking. The stocking trucks start rolling on Monday,
March 17 and most waters will be amply stocked with trout by opening
day. The in-season stocking schedule does change from year to year,
so you may want to double-check this year's schedule to learn when
your favorite water will be stocked after opening day. Any deviations
from the stocking schedule will be noted on the linked page and on
the 24/7 Trout Hotline (609-633-6765).
springtime is generally considered to be the best time of the year
to fish for trout, it certainly isn't the only time. Anglers can enjoy
great trout fishing year round in the Garden State. Fish and Wildlife
also stocks trout in the fall and winter, and these 2-year old trout
are much bigger than the yearling trout stocked in the spring. You
can also try your luck fishing for wild, naturally reproduced trout
that were born in the stream and not in the hatchery. Landlocked salmon,
lake trout, and sea-run brown trout round out New Jersey's repertoire
of coldwater sportfish.
outlook for trout fishing in New Jersey is GREAT! Provided below
is a rundown, complete with details, on what's new and in store for
trout anglers in 2008, as well as other helpful information.
Minimum Size Increased to 9 Inches
Anglers are advised that the size limit for brook, brown and
rainbow trout has increased from seven to nine inches. This change
is not anticipated to impact anglers fishing for stocked trout, which
typically exceed nine inches. However, anglers fishing waters with
reproducing trout populations may encounter wild trout that are smaller
than the new minimum size. The 9-inch size limit will protect these
smaller, naturally reproduced trout from over-harvest. This new size
limit is in effect statewide and also applies to designated wild trout
streams and holdover trout lakes.
New Lake Trout Regulation for Round Valley
In recent years the growth of lake trout in Round Valley has slowed
down because of declining numbers of alewife (herring), their preferred
food. As a result, small lakers (less than 20 inches) far outnumber
the larger ones. The new regulation is designed to restore a more
balanced and desirable population size structure by reducing the number
of small lake trout.
Anglers will play a key role in improving the quality of the reservoir's
trout fishery by harvesting 3 lakers between 15 and 20 inches. Lakers
in this size range are excellent table fare and a delicious recipe
for smoked trout can be found on page 30 of the Freshwater
Digest. Anglers may also keep 1 large laker (over 24 inches).
All lake trout caught that measure 20 - 24 inches must be immediately
released. For more information concerning recent management activities,
read the article Spotlight
on Round Valley Reservoir.
Tempting Places to Trout Fish Before
Opening Day (March 19 - April 4)
Most trout-stocked waters are closed to fishing during the 3 weeks
leading up to opening day March 17 - April 5 at 8 a.m.). But during
this time there are waters that remain open for trout fishing. Here
are some great options to consider.
holdover brown trout caught from shore at Round Valley Reservoir
in February, 2008
Trout Conservation Areas (TCA's)
On March 17, all the Seasonal and Year Round TCA's are stocked
with trout (except the Claremont stretch on the S/Br. Raritan
River, where trout reproduce and stocking is not warranted).
It's catch & release fishing at its best, but only artificial
lures & flies may be used during this period. See page 19 of
the Freshwater Digest
for regulation details and driving directions.
and Trophy Trout Lakes
These special regulation lakes are open for fishing year round.
During the three week period before opening day, trout can
be harvested from the Trophy Trout Lakes (Merrill Creek &
Round Valley Reservoirs), at the Holdover Trout Lakes while
at the Holdover Trout Lakes it's catch and release for trout.
Shoreline fishing at Round Valley really heats up during this
period, so even if you don't have a boat, you can do quite
well fishing from shore. As noted above, the lake trout regulation
has changed at Round Valley Reservoir.
Anglers should take note that Swartswood Lake is no longer be regulated
as a Holdover Trout Lake. Now the lake is more appropriately being
managed as a seasonal, rather than year round trout fishery. As in
the past, Swartswood Lake will remain open to fishing during the three
week pre-season stocking closure, however, all trout caught must be
Page 20 of the Freshwater
Digest lists all the Holdover and Trophy Trout Lakes and applicable
Wild Trout Streams
You have your pick of 36 designated WTS scattered across northern
tier of the state, where your biggest prize of the day might be
a 8 or 9-inch wild and wily trout. The minimum size on trout has
been increased from 7 to 9 inches on the Wild Trout Streams this
year (note that several streams have a higher size limit on brown
Also new to the program is a four-mile stretch of the Wanaque River,
from the Wanaque Reservoir dam downstream to the Wanaque Avenue
Bridge. This section of the Wanaque has a proven ability to produce
brown trout in excess of 12 inches, with some fish exceeding 20
inches. A 12-inch minimum size is in effect for brown trout, and
for brook and rainbow trout the new 9-inch size limit applies. As
a result of the Wild Trout designation, this section (which includes
Back Beach Park) will no longer be stocked with trout.
A Wild Trout Stream can be fished all year long, and artificial
lure and flies must be used at all times. Two trout (species combined)
may be kept starting April 5 at 8 a.m. through September 15. At
other times of the year all trout caught must be promptly returned
to the water (catch & release only)
See page 20 of the Freshwater
Digest for a list of all Wild Trout Streams and applicable regulations.
New Waters Stocked with Trout
Manny's Pond and Mountain Farm Pond, located in two
County Parks, are new additions to the spring stocking program
this year. Manny's Pond is in Hoffmans Park and Mountain Farm Pond
is in the Teetertown Preserve. Most of the trout-stocked waters in
Hunterdon County are streams, which can be challenging for young anglers
to fish. These small ponds are great places to take the family fishing
Spring Trout Allocations & Changes
to Individual Waters
The spring allocations have been generated using our computerized
database which takes into account a variety of characteristics, including
waterbody size, access, seasonal or year round trout fishery, etc.
The weekly allocations (and the day of the week stocked) for each
trout-stocked water can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/trt_allocation08_dates.htm.
Significant changes from last year's allocations are as follows:
Trout stocking opportunities have been expanded in two waters -
Hohokus Brook (Bergen County) and the Rahway River
(Essex County). The trout stocked section of Hohokus Brook has been
extended from Whites Pond to the confluence of the Saddle River.
The trout stocked section of the Rahway River is extended from Union
up into the West Branch of the Rahway River in Essex County, from
Campbell's Pond to Glen Avenue. These new stetches will increase
trout fishing opportunities on these streams by 1½ miles,
and the number of trout stocked in these waters will be increased
Trout stocking resumes at Dahnert's Lake in Garfield, Bergen
County. The restoration project on this 3-acre lake has been completed
and the lake is now suitable for trout stocking. The lake will receive
a total of 790 trout this spring. Dahnert's is also a Bonus
Broodstock Water, and so it will also receive an extra allotment
of large broodstock in time for opening day.
Stocking has been temporarily suspended in two waters that are
not suitable for stocking this spring because of ongoing dam repairs
(Mill Pond, Bergen County, and Harrisonvile Lake, Cumberland County).
Stocking has been permanently discontinued in Barker's Mill Brook
(Warren County) due to concerns with the impact of cultured trout
on the wild brook trout population in this small stream. The dam
at Bostwick Lake (a municipally owned lake in Gloucester County)
which suddenly failed in 2000, has not been repaired so trout stocking
has been discontinued at this lake as well.
Fewer trout will be stocked in the lower Wanaque River (since the
section now regulated as a Wild Trout Stream will no longer be stocked)
and in Swartswood Lake. This Sussex County lake is now being managed
for a seasonal put-and-take trout fishery rather than a year round
trout fishery. With this change the lake will receive fewer trout
than in the past, and will be stocked earlier during the seven-week
in-season period (during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Weeks following Opening
Day). This scheduling change will give anglers a longer opportunity
to catch the stocked trout before the onset of summer and warmer
water temperatures. Brook and rainbow trout will be stocked in addition
to brown trout, and the lake will also begin receiving a helping
of larger broodstock trout. As in the past, Swartswood Lake
will remain open to fishing during the three weeks prior to opening
day to give anglers a chance to fish for other popular fish species,
especially walleyes. During this period all trout caught must be
Trout Plentiful for Opening Day -
181,000 Freshly Stocked Trout Await Anglers
Over 181,000 trout will be stocked during the 3 weeks leading
up to opening day. Last year water conditions were great on
opening day, especially on the streams, and angler turn out
The action was generally spotty on large streams, while some
ponds were real hotspots according to our opening day angler
counts and surveys. Fish and Wildlife staff and Wildlife
Conservation Corps volunteers conduct these informal surveys,
so don't be surprised if someone approaches you the morning
to record your fishing success.
Where Are the Trout-stocked Waters?
Trout-stocked waters are listed by county in the Freshwater
Digest on pages 16-17 (those with no in-season stocking
closures) closed and page 18 (those having in-season stocking
closures). Finding these waters, including specific access locations
along streams, has never been easier. Check the access
enjoy opening day 2007.
When are Waters Stocked with Trout, and How
Many Will Be Stocked?
The weekly spring allocations and the day of stocking for each trout-stocked
water are conveniently summarized in a 6-page handout. Or you may
call the Trout Hotline 609-633-6878 to learn the stocking schedule
for the week of your choosing. The schedule does change from year
to year, so it is a good idea to check this year's schedule before
heading out to fish to avoid disappointment.
The week by week in-season stocking schedule can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/trtstk08.htm.
The BIG Ones - Where Are They?
Nine ponds and lakes will receive Bonus Broodstock this
year. Each year a different set of waters is selected statewide,
and there's bound to be an opportunity near to you. These 9
waterbodies generally receive 30 - 50 of these big trout that
are 14 - 19" and weigh upwards of 5 pounds. The odds of
catching a big one are in your favor if you try one of these
waters. Anglers had a blast last year catching these lunkers
at Hook's Creek Lake (photo at top).
Don't worry if you can't get to one of these nine waters, Broodstock
troutare also sprinkled in with the loads of 10-11 inch trout
that go out before opening day to all waters (except the smallest
of streams that can't accommodate these big fish, and the Holdover/Trophy
Trout Lakes, where the regular- sized stocked trout can grow
big on their own).
In the fall and winter, Fish and Wildlife stocks big, 14 -16"
trout. Some of them, maybe a lot of them, are still waiting
to be caught.
Broodstock Ponds and Lakes
"Hook-a-Winner" With a New Twist
For the 10th year in a row, Fish and Wildlife will place "Hook-a-Winner"
jaw-tags on trout that are stocked in the spring. As in the past,
1,000 brook trout will be tagged and stocked before opening day. Anglers
who catch a Hook-a-Winner trout can claim their prize (a certificate
and pin) by contacting the Pequest Trout Hatchery and they will be
automatically entered into a special contest sponsored by the State
Council of Trout Unlimited.The tradition of awarding rod and reel
combos to 12 lucky anglers will continue this year.
Landlocked Salmon - This Could Be the Year
Since 2006, yearling (7") salmon have been annually stocked
each May in Lake Aeroflex and Lake Wawayanda. Some of these salmon
should be legal size (12 inches) this year. More salmon will be stocked
this spring and Fish and Wildlife will continue to monitor this unique,
developing fishery and keep anglers apprised.
Landlocked Salmon in New
Fall & Winter-stocked Trout - the Big
Ones Are Here to Stay!
Fish and Wildlife will continue to stock 14-16" trout under the
fall and winter trout stocking programs. The responses we received
from anglers who went fishing for the trout stocked last fall and
winter were overwhelming positive. More of the same is in store for
anglers later this year. The trout allocations and stocking schedule
will be announced later on in the year.
Getting Started Fishing for Trout - Techniques
Helpful tips for beginners and seasoned anglers can be found in the
Trout Fishing Facts & Information document linked below. Many
tips are found in the 2007
Freshwater Digest on pages 42-43. Don't forget to purchase a fishing
license and trout stamp if you are 16 years or older. Children
under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older can fish for
free. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through one of the many
license agents statewide,
Fishing Facts & Information (When, Where, How) (pdf, 18kb)