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Fall Channel Catfish Stocking
A Reminder of Fantastic Fishing Opportunities

by Bob Papson
Principal Fisheries Biologist

arrow Fall 2004 Channel Catfish Stocking Schedule

The channel catfish is recognized as the most widely distributed sportfish in North American. Its potential size (the current state record caught in Lake Hopatcong - 33 lbs. 3 oz.), propensity to hit a variety of natural baits and artificial lures, hard fighting ability, as well as its quality as table fare make this species very popular. What started in the 1970s as a program to provide a sportfish in waters where they were lacking (i.e., urban park ponds) has grown today to include waterbodies of all sizes in all areas of the state. Interest in catfish angling continues to grow and a number of tournaments have recently developed.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife continues its popular fall channel catfish stocking program in 2004 by releasing 36,365 seven inch fingerlings in 35 selected waters throughout the eastern side of the Garden State. Each fall the Division releases approximately 38,000 channel catfish fingerlings, alternating each year between waterbodies in the eastern half of the state and those in the western half.

These stocking are necessary to maintain desirable channel catfishing opportunities in these waters since channel catfish seldom reproduce in New Jersey lakes, especially in smaller waterbodies. The fingerlings last stocked in these waters two years ago have now reached sporting and harvestable size with trophy size fish available from previous stockings.

Father, son and channel cat at D&R Canal
A channel cat is returned to the D&R Canal during a derby at Washington Crossing State Park.

An added bonus in 2004 will be the stocking of 200 broodstock catfish (photos below) ranging in size from four to 15+ pounds creating a immediate fishery. These “supercats” are some of the 800 adults used annually at the Hackettstown Hatchery for spawning purposes. These large fish are rotated out of the spawning ponds every few years to make room for younger more viable broodstock.

Some of the most consistent producers of large “channel cats”, i.e., greater than 10 pounds, based on the number of Skillful Angler Awards presented, are the Delaware and Maurice Rivers, Assunpink, Furnace, Hopatcong, Mary Elmer, Rising Sun, Stone Tavern and Sunset Lakes. However, most stocked waters, even the smallest park ponds, are capable of producing trophy size “channels” as demonstrated by the 26 lb., 9 oz. monster caught at tiny, 5 acre, Holmdel Park Pond.

Recently, Manasquan Reservoir joined the ranks of a trophy producing “channel cat” fishery when an angler landed a 22 pounder and repeated the feat the following day with a 15 pound monster.

The following eight waters will each receive 25 broodfish during the week of October 18-22, 2004:
Birch Grove Park Ponds/Atlantic County
Lake Como/Monmouth County
East Brunswick Park Pond/Middlesex County
Lake Manetta/Ocean County
Takanassee Lake/Monmouth County
Verona Park Pond/Essex County
Weequahic Park Pond/Essex County
Woodcliff Lake/Hudson County

Opportunities for fantastic channel catfish angling abound in the Garden State - get out and try your luck!

Ed Conley with a broodstock cat.
Crew Supervisor Ed Conley with a 20 lb. broodstock cat.
Jim Oross with albino cat
Technician Jim Oross holds an albino channel cat. Such fish, when they occur in the wild, are unlikely to survive very long due to their vulnerability to predation. In the protected hatchery environment they are able to thrive. Albinos are not stocked in waters where they are likely to reproduce.
Jim Oross holds a 22 lb. breeder
Jim Oross holds a 22 lb. channel cat breeder.
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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: October 19, 2004