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Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery - 2007 Broodstock Collection

by Craig Lemon
Hatchery Superintendent
May, 2007


The 2007 spring trap-netting season began on March 22 when a crew from the Lebanon Field Office set two trapnets in Spruce Run Reservoir to collect northern pike. With ice still keeping trapnets from Budd Lake, crews from Lebanon and the Hackettstown Hatchery fished nets in Spruce Run from the 22nd through April 3rd.

A total of 37 northern pike were captured and transported back to the hatchery for spawning. Water temperatures ranged from 42 to 49 degrees Fahrenheit over this period. The 28 male pike ranged in length from 20.2 - 29.4 inches and weighed an average of 3 pounds. The 9 females ranged in size from 22.8 - 39 inches and weighed an average of 7.26 pounds.

Spruce Run pike
Centenary College intern Noelle Kacerek and Superintendent Craig Lemon with a hefty Spruce Run Reservoir northern pike.
Click to enlarge
The crazy late winter weather kept the netting crew off of Budd Lake until March 27, more than two weeks later than in 2006. Over the five-day netting period in Budd Lake, the crew captured a total of 64 northern pike of which 49 were males and 14 were females. Male pike ranged in length from 13.8 - 26.4 inches and weighed an average of 2.55 pounds. Female pike were slightly larger at 13.8 - 35.6 inches and averaged 4.95 pounds. Water temps ranged from 42 - 44 degrees.
Injecting a muskie with hormone
Rutgers intern Kristina Kravit injects a female muskie with spawning hormone.
Click to enlarge

Eggs were collected from both Spruce Run Reservoir and Budd Lake northern females. The total egg production for 2007 was 532,807 of which 61.3%, or 327,443, hatched. The hatch rate is comparable to the long-term rate of approximately 65%.

Over the next two-month period, the number of pike will be culled down to the 23,000 top-quality six to seven-inch fingerlings for stocking in New Jersey lakes.

The Hackettstown crew began their walleye broodstock collection season on April 2nd when they set one Pennsylvania and two South Dakota-style trapnets in Swartswood Lake near the mouth of Neldon Brook. A single season record of 352 adult walleye were captured surpassing the old record of 320 captured in 2004.

Male walleyes ranged in size from 13.6 - 22 inches, weighing .9 - 4.35 pounds. Females ranged from 13.8 - 28.8 inches in length and 1.2 - 10.7 pounds in weight. The average Swartswood Lake walleye was 19.8 inches long, exceeding the minimum size limit of 18 inches, and weighed 3.41 pounds. A remarkable 33 females weighed over 6 pounds - about 10% of the catch!

The catch was composed of 217 males and 135 females. Seventy-three females were spawned to produce 9.6 million eggs, an average of 131,630 eggs per female. Three million of the 9.6 million eggs were shipped as surplus to the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

About 1.2 million 3-day old fry were set up in hatchery ponds for growout and another 1.2 million fry were stocked in the Delaware River between Poxono and Belvidere. The expected hatchery pond production of walleye fingerlings is 300,000 two-inchers and 35,000 four-inchers.

On April 19th, the Hackettstown Hatchery trapnetting crew moved their operation north to Greenwood Lake in search of muskellunge broodstock. The trapnetters were successful, capturing a total of 31 muskies, the highest total since 37 were captured in 1999. Seventeen female muskies produced a total of 712,303 eggs, an average of 41,900 eggs per female. Eggs hatched at a rate of about 50%, which is comparable to other years. Muskie fry will be raised to advanced fingerlings (10-12 inches) in hatchery tanks and ponds at which time they will be stocked.

All broodstock collected for use in the hatchery programs were transported to the hatchery where the spawn taking operations are performed by hatchery personnel. Within a week of spawning the fish are returned to the waters where they were collected. All adult muskies handled at the hatchery over the past several years have been tagged with orange streamer tags inserted near the base of the dorsal fin. The tags bear the message "CALL HACKETTSTOWN HATCHERY (908) 852-4950" along with a tag number. Anglers who call in to report catching a tagged fish will be told when the fish was tagged, and its length and weight at the time of tagging. Tagged fish from both lakes were captured during the 2007 broodstock collection.

Walleye are spawned
Division volunteer Marissa Hunt spawns a female walleye.
Click photos to enlarge

Spawning female walleye
Senior Fisheries Worker Amy Schweitzer spawns a 10-pound Swartswood Lake Walleye

The purpose of the Hackettstown Hatchery's broodstock program is to provide the eggs from which fish are raised at the hatchery. All fish raised at the Hackettstown Hatchery are stocked in public waters throughout the state to provide recreational fishing for licensed anglers and their families.
Walleye breeder
James Sciascia displaying a lunker 10.7 pound Swartswood Lake walleye
Click to enlarge
Northern pike breeder
Seasonal Worker Nick Healy with a 16.5-pound Spruce Run female northern pike
Click to enlarge

In 2007, Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries biologists have requested the Hackettstown Hatchery to produce the following:

24,520 northern pike fingerlings for stocking in:
Cranberry Lake (Sussex County); Pompton Lake and Pompton River (Passaic County); Spruce Run Reservoir (Hunterdon County); Budd Lake (Morris County); Farrington Lake (Middlesex County); Deal Lake (Monmouth County); Millstone River and the Passaic River.

11,111 muskellunge for stocking in:
Greenwood Lake, Monksville Reservoir and Echo Lake Reservoir (Passaic County); Lake Hopatcong (Morris and Sussex Counties), D&R Canal 10-mile stretch (Somerset and Mercer Counties); Manasquan Reservoir (Monmouth County); Carnegie Lake and Mercer Lake (Mercer County); Mountain Lake and Furnace Lake (Warren County); Shenandoah Lake (Ocean County); Little Swartswood Lake (Sussex County); and Cooper River Park Lake (Camden County).

207,950 walleyes for stocking in:
Lake Hopatcong (Morris County), Swartswood Lake (Sussex County), Greenwood Lake (Passaic County), Canistear Reservoir (Sussex County), and Monksville Reservoir (Passaic County).

Below are summary tables of fish collected in spring, 2007.

BUDD LAKE 5 64 23.6 35.6 3.09 10.9
SPRUCE RUN RESERVOIR 12 37 25.2 39 4.04 16.45

ECHO LAKE RESERVOIR 12 18 41 44.3 15.8 19.9
GREENWOOD LAKE 8 31 36.9 46.8 13 25.5

SWARTSWOOD LAKE 9 351 19.8 28.8 3.41 10.7

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