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In past years most of the catches have occurred in the fall through the 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.
Just such a heavy rainfall event occurred on 8/28/02 when the gauge at the Squankum Dam on the Manasquan River went from 13 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 304cfs after a very prolonged period of below normal flows. 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.
One angler in particular took advantage of this 4" rainfall and fished the river the following days as the river was dropping to a near normal level and becoming less muddy. These are the ideal fishing conditions. He reported that he hooked and released two small brown trout and momentarily hooked a larger unidentified fish which he lost. He also observed two or three larger, silvery fish moving upstream from pool to pool which he pursued but could not get to strike.
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.
These sea-run brown trout mostly feed and migrate in the evening into the night. The majority of the reported catches, including the largest (9lbs.), have been on bait (the angler mentioned above is a dedicated flyfisherman), with nightcrawlers winning out.
Other who fished the Manasquan River last winter recorded impressive catches of sea run brown trout.The telephone reports were a result of an article published in Field & Stream. One angler reported catching 30+ fish!
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.
Please report any such catches to Mark Boriek at the Lebanon Fisheries Lab at 908-236-2118. You can also contact Mark via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on sea run browns, see the May, 1998 article, New Jersey's Most Wanted Fish which Mark co-authored, as well as the Sea Run Brown Trout Program Information page.