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Fish Code Proposal Released for Public Comment

August 24, 2005

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protectionís Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Fish and Game Council are soliciting public comments on the proposed 2006 and 2007 Fish Code. The Fish Code was published in the New Jersey Register on August 15 initiating the sixty-day public comment period that ends on October 14. A public hearing is scheduled for September 13 at 7 pm at the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlifeís Central Region Office located on the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area in Robbinsville, NJ.

There are many changes proposed in the code this year including promulgating the code on an every other year basis instead of the current practice where amendments are put forth each year. This change will provide for a more efficient use of resources necessary for an official rule making process. It is also hoped that public interest in the process will increase as more substantial changes will occur on a two year cycle. This new schedule will also make New Jersey consistent with timeframes used by bordering states and will assist in improving efforts for consistent regulations on boundary waters.

Other amendments in this yearís proposed Fish Code are as follows:

  • The following waterbodies are proposed to be removed from the Divisionís trout stocking program: Spruce Run Reservoir (Hunterdon), Manasquan Reservoir (Monmouth), Pompton Lake (Passaic), Canistear Reservoir (Sussex), Cranberry Lake (Sussex) and Mountain Lake (Warren). These large lakes, each more than 100 acres in size, yield lower return rates for trout resulting in low angler interest. In addition, Pompton Lake, Cranberry Lake, and Mountain Lake have limited public access. All six lakes are stocked with other warmwater fish species by the Division, and provide excellent fishing opportunities for these other species.

    Note: Spruce Run anglers should be aware that the confluence of Spruce Run Creek and the reservoir, located below the Van Syckles Road bridge, will continue to be stocked as part of the creek.

  • Biers Kill (Sussex), Roy Spring Brook (Sussex), Shimers Brook (Sussex), and Tuttles Corner Brook (Sussex) will be removed from the Divisionís trout stocking program due to concerns of the impacts of cultured trout on native brook trout populations in these small streams.

  • Heritage Pond (Atlantic), Dahnertís Lake (Bergen), Pemberton Lake (Burlington), Gloucester City Pond (Camden), Echo Lake (Monmouth), Hamilton Fire Pond (Monmouth), and Potash Lake (Passaic) will be added to the Divisionís trout stocking program. Potash Lake is located within close proximity to Pompton Lake that is proposed to be dropped from the stocking program, and provides better access for the general public. Trout allocations for Pompton Lake are currently reduced by 40 % due to access limitations. Echo Lake is located within close proximity to the Manasquan Reservoir, which is also proposed to be dropped from the program. Its smaller size will improve angler success rates for trout.

  • A size limit of twelve inches and a daily creel of two for landlocked Atlantic salmon is proposed in anticipation of the introduction of Atlantic salmon into one of the stateís designated holdover trout lakes. The receiving waterbody will be determined in spring 2006.

  • A catch and release season from March 20 to May 20 for muskellunge and tiger muskie is proposed for Echo Lake Reservoir, Mercer Lake, Mountain Lake and Monksville Reservoir. These four lakes provide brood stock for the Stateís Hackettstown Hatchery. MS222, an anesthetic used at the hatchery to reduce injury during handling, has a required twenty-one day consumption advisory associated with its use, and the proposed closed season would provide the necessary 21 day closure. It would also allow fish that would otherwise be kept at the hatchery for an extended period to be quickly returned to their waters of origin, thereby reducing hatchery mortality and resulting in an enhanced fishery for these waters.

  • Size limits for striped bass in freshwater were changed to one fish 24 to 28 inches in size, AND one fish 34 inches or larger, for a total of two fish per day. This was done to be consistent with regulations for marine waters. Due to identification concerns, this change is also reflected in regulations for hybrid striped bass on the Raritan River below Duke Island Park dam.

  • The Fish and Game Council proposes to no longer regulate Monksville Reservoir as a Holdover Trout Lake. Holdover trout lakes are those lakes that are able to support trout year round. Due to poor angler returns of stocked trout, Monksville Reservoir was removed in 2005 from the Stateís trout stocking program. As a result, holdover trout regulations are no longer applicable. Anglers are reminded that lake trout were introduced into the reservoir in November of 2004 in an effort to determine if they may be better suited for current conditions within the reservoir.

  • The prohibited snagging of fish is proposed to be expanded to include all species of fish except yellow perch and white perch. Anglers should note, as in the past, restrictions on snagging do not pertain to ice fishing. Areas where snagging is prohibited for all species is also proposed to be expanded to include Swartswood Lake and its tributaries. This is due to the snagging of numerous game species in Neldon Brook, a tributary to the lake.

A copy of the proposed amendments to the Fish Code can be obtained from the following sources: The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries P.O. Box 400 Trenton, NJ 08625; NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Regional Offices; NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife website (www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2005/fishcode_proposal06-07.pdf - pdf, 13kb), and Westlaw Publishing at 1-800-808-WEST. Be advised there may be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources.

Comments regarding the Fish Code may be directed to Martin J. McHugh, Director, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, PO Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400. Comments must be submitted by October 14, 2005.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: March 3, 2005