|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
August 2, 2001
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife stocked more than 400,000 warmwater fish in selected ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs throughout the state during June and July. Another 100,000 fish will be stocked in late summer and fall. The stockings are part of the Division's new and improved warmwater fisheries program, which is starting to pay dividends from several years of extensive renovations to the Hackettstown Hatchery.
"The Hackettstown Hatchery is now a state-of-the-art facility comparable to the Pequest Trout Hatchery," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Warmwater fish that were previously raised in small indoor tanks are now raised in large modern tanks inside a newly constructed aquaculture building that includes a complex system of pumps, filters, heat exchangers and water temperature control systems. The renovations were the result of Green Acres Bond funding and we are pleased to offer the fruits of these labors to anglers all summer long."
The Division annually hatches more than 1.6 million warmwater and coolwater fish at the Hackettstown Hatchery of which over 600,000 are released as fingerlings and advanced fingerlings in New Jersey's lakes, ponds and reservoirs throughout the year. Last year alone the facility reared and released record numbers of game fish fingerlings and advanced fingerlings including 165,000 walleye, 30,000 muskies, 37,000 pike and 75,000 smallmouth, largemouth and hybrid striped bass.
The new aquaculture building at Hackettstown allows the Division to raise fish that are healthier and larger in the same amount of time it took using the old facilities. For example, tiger muskies raised at Hackettstown in 1999 were eight inches when stocked. The tigers raised in the new building in 2000 were 37% percent larger (11 inches) when they were stocked. Stocking larger fish means more fish in the future for Garden State anglers because the size at stocking is a key factor in how many fish will survive and mature into adults.
Although the renovation of the warmwater and coolwater rearing facilities at the Hackettstown Hatchery are recent, the Division's expansion of its warmwater and coolwater fish program has taken place over the last 20 years. This has resulted in the establishment of five new game fish populations that include tiger muskies, pure strain muskies, northern pike, walleye and hybrid striped bass. The improvements at Hackettstown promise to make the excellent warmwater and coolwater fishing opportunities the Division has already established statewide even better in the near future.
Tiger muskie, a hybrid resulting from the cross of a pure-strain muskellunge and a northern pike, were experimentally reared and stocked by the Division in 1978 to learn the hatchery-rearing techniques for large esocids like the tiger's parents and to gauge how pike and muskies would fare in New Jersey waters. The introduction was successful and over the years tiger muskies have been stocked in 11 water bodies in New Jersey and annual stockings continue to maintain this fishery. Best chances for tangling with a trophy tiger are in the northern half of the Delaware River, at Furnace Lake in Warren County, Lake Hopatcong in Morris County, Rancocas Creek (North and South Branches) in Burlington County and Greenwood Lake in Passaic County. Tigers were stocked in the Manasquan Reservoir in Monmouth County in 1996 and a quality fishery for this species is expected to develop there also.
The northern pike program was initiated in 1981 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife with the stocking of Spruce Run Reservoir and Budd Lake after hatchery rearing techniques for the "northern" were developed from 1978 to 1980 using tiger muskellunge. A total of 15 waters have been stocked between 1981 and 1996. A number of these waters were stocked only once as "surplus production releases". Currently nine waters (six lakes and three rivers) are stocked on a regular basis. Waters that are currently stocked with northerns are Spruce Run Reservoir, Budd Lake, Farrington Lake, Deal Lake, Pompton Lake, Cranberry Lake, Pompton River, Millstone River and the Passaic River. Fisheries have developed in all these waters with Spruce Run Reservoir, Farrington and Budd Lakes being the most consistent for numbers caught and chances for a large pike over 15 pounds. A 22-pound pike was captured by fisheries personnel in a trapnet at Budd Lake in the spring of 2000. Cranberry Lake, Pompton Lake, Pompton River and the Passaic River between Two Bridges and Dundee Dam are gaining popularity as northern hot spots.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife's pure strain muskellunge rearing and stocking program began in 1993 following the successful introduction of tiger muskies and northern pike. There are currently four major muskellunge fisheries in the state; Greenwood Lake, Monksville Reservoir, Echo Lake Reservoir and the Delaware River. Additional waters that have recently been stocked and have developing fisheries are Mercer Lake, Mountain Lake and Lake Hopatcong.
The construction of Monksville Reservoir in Passaic County in the late 1980's was the catalyst for developing New Jersey's walleye rearing and stocking program. It was determined early in the developmental stage that the reservoir would provide excellent habitat and water quality for developing a walleye fishery. Walleye fingerlings stocked in 1988 survived and grew at an excellent rate. Over 360,00 fingerlings have been stocked there to date resulting in a good population of walleyes in the reservoir. Population estimates conducted by a mark-recapture study in 1995 and 1996 gave a population estimate of 3,000 adult walleyes averaging 2.5 pounds in weight. A hatchery crew at Monksville Reservoir trapped a walleye weighing over 10 pounds and walleyes up to eight pounds have been reported caught by anglers.
Through an aggressive stocking program the Division has expanded the number of walleye lakes from one in 1990 at Monksville to four others today, including Swartswood Lake, Greenwood Lake, Canistear Reservoir and Lake Hopatcong. Interest in walleye fishing has greatly increased in the last several years especially at Lake Hopatcong and Swartswood Lake where reports of angler success are routine and fish weighing up to five pounds are common. Division hatchery staff also caught a 10+ pound lunker in trap nets at Swartswood this spring while collecting females that provide the eggs for the stocking program.
The hybrid striped bass, the cross of striped bass and white bass, was introduced by the Division in 1984 to fill a niche in deep lakes with open water not used by other game fish that have large populations of alewife herring and gizzard shad. The first waters stocked were Assunpink Lake (Monmouth), Cranberry Lake (Sussex) and Union Lake (Cumberland). The Division annually stocks this hard fighting hybrid in Lake Hopatcong (Morris), Spruce Run Reservoir (Hunterdon) and most recently, the Manasquan Reservoir (Middlesex).
Listed below are the fish that have been stocked to date this year. During the latter part of the summer and in autumn, approximately 100,000 more fish will be stocked including hybrid striped bass (34,500 ), muskellunge (4,400), tiger muskellunge (6,600), walleye (10,000), channel catfish (40,000) and lake trout (3,250).
Date Location #Fish Avg. Length (inches) Channel Catfish 4/3 Hook's Creek Lake 250 14.9 Holmdel Park Pond 75 14.9 Hamilton Fire Co. Pond 50 14.9 Echo Lake 150 14.9 Heritage Park Pond 150 14.9 West Pond 75 14.9 4/5 Roosevelt Pond 300 14.9 Milton Lake 300 14.9 Echo Park Pond (Lower) 180 14.9 Diamond Mill Pond 125 14.9 4/6 Woolmans Lake 350 14.9 Laurel Pond 350 14.9 4/10 Silas Condit Park Pond 500 14.9 Whites Pond 300 14.9 4/12 Duck Pond 75 14.9 West Hudson Park Pond 110 14.9 4/17 Amwell Lake 400 15.7 Colonial Lake 400 15.7 4/20 Lake Ocquittunk 250 15.7 Northern Pike: 7/5 Budd Lake 3,750 7.0 Cranberry Lake 1,795 7.4 7/9 Pompton Lake 2,040 6.8 Pompton River 2,000 6.8 Passaic River 4,550 6.9 7/10 Spruce Run Reservoir 6,500 7.0 7/11 Farrington Lake 3,280 6.9 7/12 Millstone River 1,600 7.0 Deal Lake 1,600 7.0 7/13 Passaic River 1,150 7.0 Walleye: 6/6 Lake Hopatcong 136,000 2.0 6/7 Greenwood Lake 96,000 2.0 6/14 Delaware River 90,000 2.0 6/20 Greenwood Lake 3,000 2.0 Delaware River 7,750 2.0 7/25 Monksville Reservoir 10,200 3.9 7/26 Canistear Reservoir 7,170 3.8 8/1 Swartswood Lake 9,940 4.0 Tiger Muskies: 7/6 Delaware River 5,040 5.6 Hybrid Striped Bass: 7/30 Spruce Run Reservoir 12,920 3.9 Largemouth Bass: 7/18 Dealamin Pond 500 2.2 7/19 Woodstown Lake 3,500 2.2 Daretown Lake 1,500 2.2 E. Creek Lake 3,000 2.2 Spruce Run Reservoir 1,650 2.2 Smallmouth bass: 7/13 Spruce Run Reservoir 4,000 2.5 7/19 Spruce Run Reservoir 1,000 2.0 Union Lake 85 15.0 (breeders)