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2006 Trout Outlook

By Patricia L. Hamilton
Principal Biologist
March, 2006

The first few warm days in March have arrived, seemingly overnight, and this spring-like weather beckons young and old to venture outside. At first it is enough to simply inhale the fresh air and bask in the sunlight. And then, as spring progresses and one begins to spend more time outdoors, the telltale nature signs that herald the arrival of spring are detected. The snow-white blossoms of the shad bush that dot the countryside in mid-April, the sound of spring peepers calling as the cool, moist evening air descends upon a swamp, and carpets of flowering spring beauties and trout lilies are among my personal favorites.

It's a marvelous time to be outdoors and experience the sights, sounds, and odors of our natural world. For many outdoor enthusiasts, the opening day of the trout season in April marks the unofficial start of spring. From the mountains and hills of north Jersey, to the shores of Cape May, our state offers a remarkable assortment of seasonal and year round trout fishing opportunities. This year New Jersey's trout season opens on Saturday, April 8 at 8 a.m. Over half a million brook, brown, and rainbow trout (570,000) will be stocked during the spring in nearly 200 waterbodies statewide.

Most of the spring-stocked trout will average 10 inches and weigh pound. But as always 4,000 - 6,000 broodstock trout weighing 3 to 5 pounds each and ranging from 14 to 19 inches, will be mixed in with the standard production trout. In addition, each year nine different lakes and ponds are targeted to receive large numbers of broodstock trout. This mini-program, dubbed "Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes", increases the odds that anglers fishing these waters will have a thrilling experience. Whether you are a seasoned trout angler, or new to the sport, starting this year you will be able to find places to fish for trout by referring to our newly prepared directory of access points to trout-stocked waters. (See the 2006 Bonus Trout Broodstock Ponds and Lakes page for details.)

Every spring most of our trout-stocked waters are closed to fishing during the three-week period prior to opening day. This is done to "level the playing field", thereby giving all anglers an equal opportunity to catch stocked trout on opening day, when trout are most abundant. A total of 181,000 trout will be stocked prior to opening day this year, with more going directly into 16 major streams than in the past, which is expected to appreciably boost angler success and increase satisfaction. Six ponds and lakes have been added to the stocking program to expand trout fishing opportunities to new areas and stocking has been discontinued on ten other lakes and streams. Following opening day, trout stocking continues over a seven-week period and anglers can determine when their favorite waters will be stocked either online or by calling the Trout Hotline at 609-633-6765.
NOTE: New information on fishing access locations, both by an alphabetical listing and by county listing, is now available.

Savvy anglers know that they do not have to abstain from trout fishing during the three weeks leading up to opening day. A handful of streams and lakes have special regulations and are open to trout fishing during this period. For example, stream sections that are regulated as Trout Conservation Areas are open to fishing (catch & release fishing) prior to opening day. To entice anglers to ply these waters, they are stocked on the first day of the three-week pre-season period.

This year they were stocked on March 20, a chilly day, ironically the first day of spring complete with wind-blown snowflakes. Volunteers helped spread trout along several popular special regulation stream sections, including the Point Mountain stretch of the Musconetcong River, the Ken Lockwood Gorge portion of the S/Br. Raritan River, and the Tom's River. Anglers can also find great shoreline fishing at Round Valley Reservoir, a Trophy Trout Lake where big trout move into the shallows and anglers are allowed to creel two 15-inch trout (brown or rainbow) per day. Wild Trout Streams, which are not stocked, can also be fished and provide an alternative to anglers who are wild trout aficionados.

While most streams and lakes are in pretty good shape thus far this spring, more rain would be helpful to bring stream flows and water levels in some lakes up a bit. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative this year than last, when severe flooding in early April, and the summer drought that extended into the fall, impacted our stocking schedule. Should adjustments to our stocking schedule become necessary, any changes will be posted on the Trout Stocking Schedule page and on the Trout Hotline.

Even though the spring trout-stocking program ends just before Memorial Day, your trout fishing fun for the year doesn't have to end. A number of streams and lakes in north Jersey hold trout right through the warm summer months. And trout anglers are in for a big treat later this year. Bigger trout, 14 - 16 inches long and upwards of two pounds, will be stocked this fall and winter rather than the 9 - 10 inch trout, as in the past. And last but not least, a new trout species, the landlocked salmon, will be introduced into one of our north Jersey trout lakes giving New Jersey trout anglers yet another trout fishing opportunity!

One of the goals specified in the New Jersey's Coldwater Fisheries Management Plan, finalized and adopted earlier this year, is to provide and promote a diversity of recreational angling opportunities for trout statewide. To accomplish that goal, a number of significant trout program enhancements await anglers this year. Many of these are result of angler feedback and brainstorming sessions between anglers and fisheries biologists during public Angler Forums held annually in north and south Jersey. Some have already been mentioned above, and all are highlighted and explained in detail below.

What's new for trout anglers in New Jersey this year?

  • Spring baseline now 570,000 trout

  • More trout for opening day weekend

  • Six new trout-stocked waters

  • Stocking discontinued in certain waters

  • Stocking suspended in certain waters

  • Where are the big ones? This year's Bonus Broodstock waters

  • Directions to access points on trout-stocked waters

  • The buzz about landlocked salmon

  • Bigger trout this fall and winter

  • Spring baseline now 570,000 trout
    The spring baseline was decreased from 575,000 to 570,000 trout this year. This reduction is one component of the broad program changes that were approved by the Fish and Game Council last year. The spring baseline reduction gives Pequest Trout Hatchery the ability to rear larger, but fewer trout for the fall/winter trout stocking programs (commencing in 2006).

  • More trout for opening day weekend
    If you opt to fish in one of our popular 16 major trout-stocked streams, the odds that you'll catch trout on opening day this spring just went up. That's because the number of trout stocked in these waters prior to opening day has been increased by 15-20%. For example, the Musconetcong River will be stocked with 2,500 more trout, bring the pre-season total to nearly 16,000. Of course, those stocked trout not harvested on the opening day weekend will continue to provide angling enjoyment in the weeks that follow. Anglers should note that certain stream sections that have reproducing trout populations,will not receive additional trout (upper S/Br. Raritan River, Lower Wanaque River, upper Big Flatbrook).

    The following streams will receive additional fish during the pre-season period:

    Big Flatbrook
    Black River
    Manasquan River
    Metedeconk River, N/Br.
    Metedeconk River, S/Br.
    Musconetcong River
    Paulinskill River (incl. E/Br. & W/Br.)
    Pequest River
    Pohatcong Creek
    Ramapo River
    Raritan River, N/Br.
    Raritan River, S/Br.
    Rockaway River
    Tom's River
    Wallkill River
    Wanaque River

  • Six new trout-stocked waters
    A component of the broad program changes that were approved by the Fish and Game Council last year (and subsequently incorporated into the 2006 Fish Code) was the addition of seven ponds and lakes to the spring trout stocking program (boldfaced in list above). These waters are: Echo Lake (Monmouth Co.), Gloucester City Pond (Gloucester Co.), Hamilton Fire Pond (Monmouth Co.), Heritage Park Pond (Atlantic Co.), Pemberton Lake (Burlington Co.), and Potash Lake (Bergen Co.). One of these, Dahnert's Lake (Bergen Co.), has been temporarily suspended from the stocking program this year due to an ongoing dredging project. Descriptions of the six waters that will be stocked with trout this spring and directions to them are as follows:

    Atlantic County - Heritage Park Pond
    Heritage Park Pond is a relatively shallow 5-acre municipal lake located in Absecon. This former gravel pit is situated next to the Absecon Municipal Complex. Though boats are not permitted there is 100% shoreline access for anglers. The shoreline is gently sloping and just a short walk from street parking on Ambassador Ave.
    Directions:
    From Route 30 East (White Horse Pike): Take Haddon Avenue jug-handle. Make right onto New Jersey Avenue. Go 4/10 mile and make left on Ambassador Ave. before light at Mill Rd. (pond will be on right). Or make left at light onto Mill Rd. (WaWa on right). Pond will be on left.
    From Rt. 9 (From the North): Follow Rt. 9 South. Bear right at light onto Mill Rd. Pond will be on right. (From the South) - Follow Rt. 9 North. Make left on New Jersey Avenue. Go through next light at Mill Rd. and make first right onto Ambassador Ave. Pond will be on the right.

    Bergen County - Potash Lake
    Potash Lake is a relatively deep 21-acre municipal lake located on a former gravel mining site in Oakland. The entire western shore is accessible to shoreline anglers from a dirt lane that follows the shoreline. There is a boat ramp and parking for 10 - 15 vehicles. Use of outboard motors is restricted to 3 hp maximum. This site also provides boat access to Pompton Lake as the lower end of the lake is totally open to the Ramapo River leading to Pompton Lake.
    Directions:
    From Route 287: Take exit 57 to West Oakland Avenue, go south for mile to entrance on the left.
    From Route 202 South: Take West Oakland Avenue south for mile to entrance on the left.
    From Route 202 North: Take Doty Road to West Oakland Avenue, go north mile, and entrance is on right.

    Burlington County - Pemberton Lake
    Pemberton Lake is located on the Pemberton Lake Wildlife Management Area off Magnolia Rd. This 45-acre gravel pit has good shoreline access as well as a gravel boat ramp. Ample parking can be found in the lot off of Magnolia Rd. or off of Coleman's Bridge Rd. The lake has a sandy bottom and portions of the shoreline are wooded. Pemberton Lake would is good location for those looking to put on the waders.
    Directions:
    From North: Take 206 South to S. Pemberton Rd. (Rt 38). Make a left onto S. Pemberton Road. Travel 2.6 miles to the light at Vincentown Rd. Go through light and make right onto Magnolia Rd. Lake is 1 mile down on left. Additional parking is available by making a left onto Coleman's Bridge Rd.
    From South: Take 206 North to S. Pemberton Rd. Make right onto S. Pemberton Rd. Travel 2.6 miles to the light at Vincentown Rd. Go through light and make right onto Magnolia Rd. Lake is 1 mile down on left. Additional parking is available by making a left onto Coleman's Bridge Rd.

    Camden County - Gloucester City Pond (a.k.a. Martins Lake)
    Gloucester City Pond is a small park pond (about 1 acre) with excellent shoreline access. Street Parking can be found on Baynes Avenue, Highland Blvd., Frances Ave. and E. Brown Street.
    Directions:
    From the North: Take 295 South. Take I-76 Exit 26. Merge onto I-76 W. Take Exit #1C to Rt. 130 South/ Mt. Ephraim (I-295)/Gloucester (Rt. 42). Turn left on Market Street. Turn right on Baynes Ave. Pond is on left.
    From the South via Rt. 55 North: Take Rt. 55 North to Rt. 42 ramp. Follow I-76W. Follow directions from above.
    From the South via Rt. 295: Take 295 North. Take Rt. 130 North Exit #23 (to Westville/Gloucester). Bear right at New Broadway N. Turn right at Koeler Street. Turn right on Market Street. Turn left on St. Mary St. and pond is directly ahead on right.

    Monmouth County - Echo Lake
    Echo Lake is a recently dredged and restored 6-acre municipal lake located in Southard, Howell Township. There is good shoreline fishing access from which to pursue stocked largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, trout and channel catfish. Echo Lake Park features a pavilion complete with a fireplace, restrooms, portable ice rink, picnic tables, grills, volleyball court, horseshoe pits and a nature trail.
    Directions:
    From Route 195: Take the exit for Route 9 South and continue for approximately 3 miles. Take the jug handle for Lanes Mills Road and head east. Make the first left onto Maxim-Southard Road to Echo Lake on the left.

    Monmouth County - Hamilton Fire Company Pond
    This 2-acre municipal pond, located in Hamilton, Neptune Township, is stocked with channel catfish and trout, and recently had an aerator installed. The entire shoreline is accessible and there is a large parking lot.
    Directions:
    From NJ Parkway exit 100: Head east on Route 33. Make a left onto Jumping Brook Road. The pond is on the right behind the Hamilton Fire Company.

  • Stocking discontinued in certain waters
    Another component of the broad program changes that were approved by the Fish and Game Council last year, and subsequently incorporated into the 2006 Fish Code, was the removal of six large lakes/reservoirs and four small streams (having reproducing brook trout populations) from the spring trout stocking program. These waters are: Canistear Reservoir, Cranberry Lake, Manasquan Reservoir, Mountain Lake, Pompton Lake, Spruce Run Reservoir, Biers Kill, Roy Spring Brook, Shimers Brook, and Tuttles Corner Brook. These lakes will continue to provide good fishing for a variety of warmwater/coolwater fish species and anglers may fish for wild trout in these streams.

  • Stocking suspended in certain waters
    Three lakes that will not be stocked with trout this spring due to dredging/dam repair activity are Dahnert's Lake (Bergen Co.), Clarks Pond (Essex Co.), and Bostwick Lake (Cumberland Co.).

  • Where are the big ones? This year's Bonus Broodstock waters
    The excited cry of "Big Fish On!" will be heard more frequently by anglers that fish one of the trout-stocked waters slated to receive bonus broodstock trout. Broodstock trout, or "breeders", as anglers like to say, weigh 3 to 5 pounds each, and range from 14 to 19 inches. Each spring 4,000 to 6,000 broodstock trout mixed in with the standard production trout (that average 10.5 inches) as the hatchery trucks are loaded with trout. Stocked throughout the state, primarily before the opening day of the spring trout season, these big trout create quite a stir when hooked, and as an angler battles to land the "big one".

    The Bonus Broodstock Program, initiated in 2004, targets a handful of waters that receive five to six times more broodstock trout than usual. A different set of nine ponds and small lakes will receive 30 to 50 of these huge trout (rather than the usual 5 to 10), increasing the odds that anglers fishing one of these waters will have the thrill of a lifetime. Find out where these water are on the 2006 Bonus Trout Broodstock Ponds and Lakes page

  • Directions to access points on trout-stocked waters
    Do you want to try fishing a trout-stocked water that you've never been to before, but don't know where to go? Now you will be able to refer to our "hot off the press" directory of access points to trout-stocked waters. A list of fishing access locations for many trout-stocked waters will soon be available to guide you to new fishing spots.

  • The buzz about landlocked salmon
    This year a fifth species will be added to New Jersey's repertoire of coldwater fishing opportunities. The landlocked version of the Atlantic salmon (free surplus from a Massachusetts fish hatchery) will be stocked in a north Jersey trout lake in May of this year. These salmon will be stocked at a size of 8 inches and should achieve the minimum harvestable size of 12 inches late in 2007. More information about this exciting new species, including the lake selected for stocking, will be announced in the beginning of May.

  • Bigger trout this fall and winter
    Anglers longing to catch a big trout will be pleased to learn that bigger trout are being produced for the fall and winter stocking programs. Several adjustments were made to the production cycle at the Pequest that enable the hatchery to produce bigger trout for these two programs. Previously the hatchery produced about 60,000 9-inch yearling rainbow trout for these two stocking programs. Now the hatchery is rearing two-year-old brook, brown, and rainbow trout that will average 14 - 16 inches and weigh 2 - 4 pounds when stocked in the fall and winter. Because the same amount of raceway space will be used, and bigger trout require more growing space, fewer but bigger trout will be reared for these two programs. The number of trout available for these programs will be roughly half the amount stocked in previous years and more details will be forthcoming as the stocking dates approach.

    ADDITIONAL LINKS

    arrow Spring 2006 Trout Fishing Information
    arrow Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Alphabetical Listing
    arrow Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Listed by County
    arrow Spring 2006 Trout Allocations with Day Stocked
    arrow Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes
    arrow Places to Fish - Streams
    arrow Places to Fish - Ponds
    arrow "Hook-a-Winner" Program
    arrow Sea Run Brown Trout
    arrow 2006 Trout Regulations (pdf, 85kb)
    arrow License Information
    arrow General Fishing Regulations
     
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    Last Updated: March 31, 2006