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Sea Run Brown Trout Program Information


1957 - The Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries began looking into the possibility of setting up a sea run program based on occasional reports of "big trout" being taken in the Manasquan River, Oyster Creek, and Cedar Creek. Other locations mentioned on a less frequent basis were: Shark River, Toms River and the Metedeconk River.

April '57 to May '58 - 3645 "production" trout were tagged and stocked. Some were part of the normally allotted quota, some were "bonus". 2100 tagged fish were released below the Allenwood lagoon (tidal).

October 31, '58 - A 9.5' diameter x 20' long wire cage was placed in the Manasquan on two different occasions between October '58 and February '59 in an attempt to recapture fish migrating upstream. No fish were recovered using this apparatus.
A study followed to determine up or down stream movement of pre-season stocked trout.

In 1958 eggs were obtained from a "sea trout" strain from Denmark and Scotland.

1961 and '62 - 3,355 "sea trout" ranging from fry to about 13 inches were stocked in the freshwater portion of the Manasquan and several of its tributaries.
Some of these "sea trout" were stocked as fry in '61 - some as fry in '62. 696 were stocked as tagged "catchables" later in '62.
No fish were ever reported or collected from these stockings. A successful fishery was not established, probably due to too few fish and not enough years of stocking

The Sea Run Brown Trout Program Today

The program is presently divided into two phases:

Phase I

Hatchery Operations:

Fish are raised at the Pequest Trout Hatchery as part of the regular production stock. Surplus brown trout from the May sorting operation are used - no extra fish are produced for this program. These fish are raised in the last raceways in the system so no extra water is required.
A different fin is clipped each year for identification purposes. A portion of the clipping has been done by volunteers from the Ernest Schwiebert and Jersey Shore chapters of Trout Unlimited.
Stocking is in late October after the fish reach 8 inches in length.


By spring of 2001 approximately 100,000 fish had been stocked over four years (fall '97 - '00).

There have been over 30 reported catches of these fish and many unconfirmed anecdotal reports. Reports indicate that large fish (17"-23") are being caught (from November through February) on a regular basis by individuals that have specifically targeted these fish. Smaller fish (11"-13") have been reported in May and June in brackish water.

The growth rate of these fish seems to be superior to normal freshwater rates.

Evidence seems to support historical reports of large brown trout catches in the lower Manasquan and that hatchery brown trout will survive in brackish water, utilize the available forage, grow and return to the freshwater portion of the Manasquan and be caught by freshwater anglers.

Phase II

Phase II will start in the fall of 2002 and will be designed to answer two questions.
1) How many and where are these fish being caught.
2) How are these fish utilizing the estuary during the late spring through early fall.
This is a cooperative program involving the Division and interested anglers who would like to see a trophy sea run brown trout program develop in the Manasquan River area and other appropriate coastal estuaries. Please report all catches of tagged or fin-clipped brown trout in the Manasquan River to Mark Boriek at (908) 236-2118 or the Pequest Hatchery at (908) 637-4173.
The success of the program depends on our ability to show that a successful fishery is developing.

For still more, see May, 1998 article, "New Jersey's Most Wanted Fish".

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