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March 22, 2005

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994

APRIL 2 and 3

(05/24)TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell announced today that the 21st annual Open House and Fish Festival will be held on Saturday, April 2 and on Sunday, April 3 at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center in Oxford, Warren County.

This year's event features the largest New Jersey trout in captivity, as well as an opportunity to view an assortment of fresh water fish in the state's largest mobile aquarium, and a chance for children to experience the fun of the biggest gill net maze anywhere.

"We invite the public to visit our unique facility and join us in a celebration of aquatic stewardship and fishing," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "This is an event not only for trout anglers, but for everyone interested in the outdoors and wildlife. The open house at the state's hatchery is consistently one of our most popular events, and draws people from across New Jersey as well as neighboring states," Campbell added.

"Attending the hatchery's open house is a great opportunity for families to spend a day outside learning about the rich natural resources and outdoor opportunities New Jersey has to offer" said John Watson, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. "I encourage everyone to come to beautiful Warren County and join in celebrating this annual rite of spring."

Children will be able to guess the exact weight of the hatchery's largest trout. Those who guess it right, will be in a special drawing to be invited back to the hatchery for the opening day of trout season to fish for lunker trout and to attend a special VIP reception.

DEP's annual open house is a showcase for fish, fishing, and professional resource management. There will be opportunities for children (up to age 16) to fish for trout, one week before the season officially opens. The bass tub - a giant mobile aquarium - will return again this year and will be the setting for informal "how to" fishing demonstrations. Novice anglers of all ages can talk fishing with the pros and try casting a variety of fishing rods.

New this year is the fishing flea market. Outfitters, guides, tackle dealers, and private citizens are invited to buy and sell fishing-related products and services. Wildlife artists, carvers, and taxidermists will also be on hand.

Conservation groups will be well represented at the event, including Trout Unlimited and the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

As in past years, there will be demonstrations, special displays and activities related to New Jersey's fish and wildlife resources. Freshwater fisheries biologists will demonstrate fish sampling equipment, cleaning and cooking fish, and safe handling of various kinds of fish. Kids' activities include fish printing, and aquatic insect exploration.

Another new feature of the event is a 13-target, 3-D archery range. This range tests the abilities of intermediate and experienced archers. A beginner course will also be available with equipment to loan.

The open house is generously sponsored by Clear Channel Communications, the Warren County Public Information & Tourism Dept., GBW Insurance Co., Grand Rental Station of Hackettstown, the Inn at Panther Valley, NJ State Council of Trout Unlimited, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, and CHP Communications. The entire event is free-of-charge (including parking). Food is available for purchase.

DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife encourages anyone with an interest in the outdoors to attend the open house and fish festival.

The Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center is located off Route 46, nine miles west of Hackettstown in Warren County. The event takes place on both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Pequest hatchery annually produces about 700,000 trout for stocking throughout the state's public waters.

For more information about the open house or public and group visitation programs call 908-637-4125 or visit the DEP's Web site at




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Last Updated: March 23, 2005