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The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) raises trout at two facilities, the Pequest Trout Hatchery and the Charles O. Hayford Fish Hatchery at Hackettstown. Cultured (hatchery-reared) brook, brown, rainbow, and lake trout are stocked in a variety of settings and seasons. Angler licenses and stamps fund the hatcheries. On an annual basis, more than 750,000 trout are reared and stocked during the spring, fall, and winter.

Brook TroutNJ State Fish
Although the NJDFW stocks four types of trout, brook trout are the only New Jersey natives. The brook trout was designated the New Jersey State fish in 1991. Rainbow trout are native to the western U.S. and brown trout are from Europe.

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis are found in the northeastern United States and Canada and require clean, clear, cold streams with temperatures ranging from 53° F. to 60° F. They generally live in spring-fed streams with many pools and riffles where they hide in undercut banks,under large rocks, in deep pools and near banks with overhanging trees and plants. The carnivorous brook trout feed on water and land insects such as mayflies, caddis flies, midges and beetles. Larger brook trout eat leeches, small fish, mollusks, frogs, and salamanders. Brook trout spawn in late fall in shallow, gravelly areas of streams with clean bottoms and good water flows.

Fisheries biologists stock trout based on the biological characteristics of the water bodies – water quality and quantity and existing trout and other fish populations. Only public owned open space is stocked — no private waters receive fish. The NJDFW stock in the spring, fall and winter. The spring stocking program is by far the largest and most popular of the three.

Although NJDFW may stock brook, brown, and rainbow in any combination for most waters, NJDFW typically stocks brook trout first because they bite more quickly which usually results in high angler catch rates and satisfaction on opening day. When the hatchery exhausts the supply of brook trout, usually by the 1st or 2nd week after opening day, the NJDFW then stocks rainbow trout. In the fourth or fifth week of spring stocking season, brown trout are stocked. Most waters stocked late in the season can support trout year round and brown trout survival rates in these waters are generally better than the other two species.