Summer Trout Fishing in New Jersey
A variety of summer trout fishing opportunities in New Jersey await anglers.
Many streams and a handful of lakes that were stocked during the spring continue
to harbor trout throughout the summer. The springtime crowds of anglers have disappeared
and early morning and evening outings to these waters can be very productive and
Anglers should keep in mind that as the water warms, trout feeding patterns
change. On streams, cooler temperatures typically prevail in the early morning
and evening hours, and trout feed more willingly then. While daily swings in water
temperature do not occur in deep lakes, trout feeding patterns are often similar.
During the day, particularly mid to late afternoon, stream water temperatures
may rise to levels that are stressful for trout.
Anglers practicing catch-and-release trout fishing should exercise added care
during the summer. Once on the line, a trout should not be played to exhaustion,
but reeled in quickly, handled as little as possible, and promptly released. Holding
a trout in the water, until it has recovered sufficiently to swim away, is sometimes
Stream fishing for trout can be had in the major trout-stocked streams in northern
and central Jersey, where cooler summer water temperatures prevail (Big Flatbrook,
Toms River, Manasquan River, Pequest River, Paulinskill upper S/Br. Raritan River,
Wanaque River (below Wanaque Reservoir), and the lower Musconetcong River (below
Hackettstown). Wild Trout Streams also offer year round action for wild trout
enthusiasts. A number of lakes in north Jersey support trout year round and consistently
produce big trout, even during the summer.
Trout like this 22-inch brown electro-fished by biologist
Bob Papson in the Wanaque River await summer anglers.
Click to enlarge
Here are a few good bets for trout anglers this summer:
Conservation Areas (TCAs)
Perennial summer hot spots are the Year Round and Seasonal TCA's, where anglers
may only use artificials lures or flies, and during the summer the harvest is
limited to 1 trout at least 15 inches.
The S/Br. Raritan River, as it carves its way through the breathtaking Ken
Lockwood Gorge, creates a boulder and rock-strewn paradise for trout and the
aquatic insects they feast upon, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies. The
gravel road which parallels this amazing 2-mile stretch of river can be easily
reached by taking Hoffmans Crossing Road, off of Rt. 513, near the town of Califon.
A scenic 1.2-mile section of the Pequannock River, from the Rt. 23
bridge at Smoke Rise downstream to the Rt. 23 bridge at Smith Mills, is another
angler favorite. Wild brown trout and stocked trout lurk among the large boulders
that punctuate this stretch. Take Rt. 23 north from I-287 (Exit 52), to access
this TCA. Anglers venturing beyond the limits of the TCA will also find productive
trout fishing areas. Upstream, above Charlottesburg Reservoir, there is a section
regulated as a Wild Trout Stream (daily
permit required from NWCDC). Further downstream, a local park in Riverdale
along the Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike offers excellent trout fishing in a suburban
Fly Fishing Only Water
This 4-mile stretch of the Big Flatbrook starts at the Rt. 206 bridge just
north of Stokes
State Forest Park office, and winds its way through a rural valley to the
Roy Bridge in the Flatbrook-Roy Wildlife
Management Area. From now through March 19, 2006, anglers may only use fly
fishing gear and keep 4 trout per day (9" min. size). A few wild brook and brown
trout may be encountered, particularly in the vicinity where the Little Flatbrook
meets the Big Flatbrook, in an area referred to as the Blewett Tract.
Many sections of this public waterway can be readily accessed by taking gravel
side roads that intersect and parallel Rt. 615 (Walpack-Flatbrook Road) off of
Rt. 206. More adventurous anglers can investigate the small tributaries trickling
down the surrounding mountains into the Big Flatbrook which harbor populations
of beautiful wild trout, primarily the colorful brookie, New Jersey's native trout
species and official State
Anglers might be surprised to learn that opportunities to fish for wild
trout can also be found in New Jersey. Scattered throughout north Jersey are approximately
175 small streams that support populations of brook, brown, and/or rainbow trout.
Of these, 35 have been designated as Wild Trout Streams. The wild trout
inhabiting most of these streams are small but feisty, and a challenge to catch.
Two noteworthy wild trout streams, Van Campens Brook, located in the scenic
Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Dunnfield Creek by the Delaware
Water Gap (Worthington
State Park), are very popular and open to public fishing. Van Campens is one
of the few streams in the state that harbor reproducing populations of all three
brook trout from Dunnfield Creek
Photo, and fish, courtesy of Mark Sagan
Click to enlarge
Wild brook and rainbow trout are regularly caught in the vicinity of the Millbrook
historical village and wary brown trout are common in the lower reaches where
the brook empties into the Delaware River. Dunnfield Creek has both brook and
brown trout, and if you fish the lower section don't be surprised if you encounter
an occasional wild tiger trout, the hybrid offspring produced when brook and brown
trout successfully mate.
& Holdover Trout Lakes
If fishing for large trout is more your style, then head to one of New Jersey's
seven Holdover and two Trophy Trout Lakes. Trout in these lakes and reservoirs
fatten-up on alewives and grow to a much larger size than their stream dwelling
counterparts. In the summer you'll need to fish deep, from a boat, as the warm
surface waters force the big trout down to the cooler waters below.
Aeroflex and Lake
Wawayanda consistently produce big browns and are a good bet. So are Round
Valley and Merrill
Creek Reservoirs, where anglers can also catch lake trout. The state
records for brown, rainbow and lake trout come from Round Valley and even
beginner anglers have caught some lunker trout in these waters. All of these waters
allow only electric motors, except for Round Valley Reservoir where an outboard
up to 10 hp is allowed.
Though the trout fishing rituals of spring are but a fond memory, anglers
can continue to enjoy trout fishing during the summer months.