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Sea Run Brown Trout Program 2003 Update

By Mark Boriek
Principal Fisheries Biologist

Since beginning the experimental Sea Run Brown Trout Program in 1997, division biologists have anxiously awaited reports of angler success. Paul Ripperger with 2 sea run brownsIt now appears the sea run brown trout fishery is very secretive in nature - reports have been far fewer than anticipated, yet we're sure the fish are there and are being caught. Staff in the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries believes there is a core group of successful anglers who do not report their catches, fearing an influx of other anglers. And we can understand their reluctance. However, continuation of the program relies on anglers submitting reports of their catches.

Sea run browns that have been reported are often of trophy size, ranging up to 32 inches in length. Sea runs are not easy to catch, but once an angler has a taste of the excitement these fish can generate at the end of their line they're not likely to give up their pursuit.

Most of the catches have occurred in the fall through the winter. However, these brown trout will return to the freshwater section of the Manasquan River at all times of year when the water is high from heavy rainfall. These brown trout don't migrate out to the ocean but seek out freshwater seeps in the lower river that provide brackish water of proper temperature and wait for such a pulse of freshwater to draw them to the upper river.

As fall and winter approach you can increase your chances of catching a sea-run brown trout by checking the Manasquan River gauge at Squankum Dam http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nj/nwis/dv/?site_no=01408000&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065 for a sharp increase in river discharge. Fish the river as it is dropping, becoming less muddy and approaching near normal levels.

Below is a table of reported catches, and below that are some tips for success.

Catch Report

Date

Length

Weight

Released

Tackle

Location

10/19/02

16"

4 lb.

yes

chartreuse twister tail jig

Parkway Bridge

10/20/02

12", 16," 16"

?

yes

chartreuse twister tail jig

Squankum Dam

11/?/02

?

6 lb.

yes

chartreuse spawn sac

Parkway Bridge

11/?/02

?

7 lb.

yes

chartreuse spawn sac

Hospital Rd.

11/16/02

14", 16", 17", 25"

?

no

chartreuse spawn sac

Parkway Bridge

11/16/02

14", 17"

?

yes

caddis emerger

Brice Park

12/01/02

32"

13 lb.

yes

5" weighted olive zuddler

Manasquan WMA

12/09/02

19" rainbow

?

yes

chartreuse spawn sac

Above Squankum Dam

12/09/02

22"

3 lb.

yes

chartreuse spawn sac

Hospital Rd.

12/10/02

24"

?

yes

streamer

Allaire St. Park

01/13/03

19"

3 lb.

?

?

Below Squankum Dam

01/13/03

18" rainbow

2 lb.

?

?

mile above Hospital Rd.

01/13/03

18" rainbow

2.5 lb.

?

?

mile above Hospital Rd.

03/08/03

17"

4.0 lb.

?

chartreuse Yozuri Pin Minnow

Manasquan WMA

03/09/03

23"

6.25 lb.

?

chartruese Yozuri Pin Minnow

Manasquan WMA

03/16/03

11.75"

1.5 lb.

yes

chartreuse salmon egg

Between Parkway Bridge & Hospital Rd.

10/02/03

16"

2.0 lb.

yes

gardenworm

Below Austin Property

10/25/03
14.75"
2.0 lb.
no
white Power Bait

West Farms Rd.

11/01/03
17.0"
?
yes
single salmon egg
Allaire St. Park Village
11/02/03
17", 21"
?
yes
rooster tail spinner
Lightning Jack's Marina
11/10/03 .
20.0"
3.5 lb
yes
artificial worm
Brice Park
11/12/03
14"
?
yes
worm
Parkway Bridge
11/12/03
14"
?
yes
spinner
Allaire St. Park Village
11/15/03
18"
?
no
worm
Parkway Bridge
11/16/03
15"
1 lb.
yes
worm
¼ mile upstream Hospital Rd.
11/16/03
12", 16"
?
yes
worm
Upstream of Hospital Rd.
11/18/03
16"
?
no
spawn sac, worm
West Farms Rd.
11/30/03
15"
2 lb.
yes
Rapala
Manasquan WMA
12/ ? /03
22"
4-5 lb.
yes
live meal worm/nymph combo
Parkway Bridge
1/02/04
24"- 25"
5-6 lb.
no
caught by harbor seal
Lightning Jack's Marina
1/06/04
24"- 25"
5-6 lb.
no
caught by harbor seal
Lightning Jack's Marina
1/22/04
14"
1.5 lb.
yes
night crawler
Upstream of Hospital Rd.
1/22/04
16"
3 lb.
yes
night crawler
Upstream of Hospital Rd.
1/22/04
22" rainbow
3 lb.
no
chartreuse spawn sac
Upstream of Hospital Rd.

Tips for Sea Run Brown Trout Fishing:

1. Fish the Manasquan River one to two days after a rain as it is becoming less muddy but not too clear.

2. The best time to fish is in the evening into the night, as this is when these trout migrate and feed.

3. Mid-October to January 1: Bait is the most productive - pink and white spawn sacs, night crawlers, worms, killies. The sea runs move into freshwater and are actively feeding.

4. January 1 to February 1: The sea runs are spawning and not actively feeding but will strike at 2" long lures such as Rapalas, C.P. Swings, and Rooster Tails. The most productive lure colors are silver, chartreuse and hot pink. Use a slow retrieve.

5. February through May: Use bait as described in 3. above.

6. The Manasquan River is very difficult to fish - it has brushy, overgrown banks. Anglers should use caution -the mud is very slippery, there are many deep holes and many underwater snags.

7. You have to put in a lot of time. If you get a bite that's a good day, if you hook one that's a great day, if you land one that's an unbelievable day.

The continuation of this program is dependant upon such reports as it is our only way of documenting its success. More catch reports are needed.

We encourage any anglers having success or questions to contact us at 908-236-2118, or email me at mark.boriek@earthlink.net. You can reveal as much or as little detail as you wish.

For more information on sea run browns, including access areas see the Sea Run Brown Trout Program Information page.


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