Opening Day of the 2008 New Jersey Trout Season - A Recap
By Pat Hamilton
Saturday, April 5, marked the official "opening day" of the 2008 New Jersey trout fishing season. For the most part the rain held off, though the sky was overcast, and the morning air chilly with a slight breeze. Anglers were not deterred by the weather, with most stationed at their chosen fishing location, ready to make their first cast, at precisely 8 a.m. when the season opened.
Legions of trout anglers could be seen fishing in and along nearly 200 streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the state. The trout action was fast and furious in some waters, and moderate to slow on others. By late morning the sun began to peek through the clouds, warming both die-hard and late-arriving anglers.
With the help of Wildlife Conservation Corps volunteers, angler surveys were conducted at 25 - 30 trout-stocked waters (primarily ponds and lakes), typically from 8 to 11 a.m. This annual effort aids Fish & Wildlife in monitoring angler turnout, success and satisfaction on this most heavily fished day of the year. Similar to previous years, these surveys indicated that success was variable, with anglers quite successful at some places while at other waters few, if any, trout were caught. Highlights gleaned from these angler surveys are provided below. Please note that fish totals are those reported during the survey hours only, either by observation or as reported by anglers.
The newly restored Dahnert's Lake (Bergen County), which was stocked with bonus broodstock trout this year, attracted many people (90 anglers observed at 8 a.m.). By 11 a.m. about 50 trout had been caught and kept, including 9 of the big breeders.
Clark's Pond (Essex County) had fewer anglers, but they caught more trout (65), and lures worked better than bait.
Anglers fishing the new trout-stocked stretch on the W/Br. Rahway River (Essex County) caught over 100 trout, mostly on silver-colored lures (the trout ignored all types of bait).
Trout were caught at Woodcliff Lake (Hudson County), Blue Mountain Lake (Sussex County), Lower Echo Park Pond (Union County), and Furnace Lake (Warren County), and though trout were caught, the action was generally slow. Anglers contacted for the survey at Lake Musconetcong (Morris/Sussex counties) did not catch any trout during the survey hours.
Results were variable on small streams surveyed in Hunterdon and Warren counties. Anglers creeled their limit of six trout at some spots on Buckhorn Creek and Spring Mills Brook. Only a few anglers were observed fishing Roaring Rock Brook and Pophandusing Creek and they were not catching trout. No anglers were observed fishing the upper section of Spruce Run. On the Pequest River, a large river in Warren County, the parking was at premium near the Pequest Trout Hatchery, with many anglers fishing and catching trout.
Anglers turned out to fish the 2 new ponds in Hunterdon County that were added to the trout stocking program this year. At Manny's Pond, one of nine waters that received bonus broodstock trout, 28 trout, including two bonus broodstock trout, were caught. Although fewer people were fishing at Mountain Farm Pond, they caught more trout - 59, including two broodstock.
Nearly 60 trout were caught by anglers fishing Assunpink Creek (Mercer County), where the trout were biting on bait (night crawlers, mealworms, and powerbait).
In Middlesex County, the few anglers fishing Lake Papaianni caught 29 trout, primarily on powerbait and worms. There were far more anglers (126 total) at Roosevelt Park Pond, where 33 trout were caught. At Farrington Lake, most anglers fished the southern end of the lake and 43 trout were caught, primarily on spinners.
Over at Holmdel Park Pond (Monmouth County), which was stocked with bonus broodstock, 50+ anglers caught 53 trout, and 5 broodstock. The trout were biting worms, mealworms and lures. All the broodstock were caught on lures.
Quite a few trout were caught at several Camden County ponds. Anglers at Rowands Pond caught a whooping 193 trout, including 4 breeders! Not all of the trout were kept, and grubs worked best and worms not at all. At Oak Pond, which was stocked with bonus broodstock trout, 63 trout were landed, including 2 broodstock trout. The trout were biting just about every thing the anglers fished with (spinners, panther martins, powerbait, mealworms, rapalas, butter worms, wax worms, salmon eggs and night crawlers).
Grenloch Lake, a bonus broodstock water this spring, 89 trout were caught, including 5 broodstock trout. Spinners, minnows, worms, and mealworms all worked well for anglers.
Further south, in Cumberland County, at Giampetro Park Lake, despite a good angler turnout (70 - 80 anglers) and having been stocked with bonus broodstock trout, anglers there only caught 11 trout. No too far away, at Shaws Mills Pond, roughly the same number of anglers caught 30 trout.
All in all, it was a great opener with anglers enjoying the state's public waters from Sussex to Cape May counties. Plenty of fish remain to be caught, and stocking continues through May 23.
Many thanks to the volunteers and staff who reported on angling activity on opening day (WCC volunteers: Jerry Benfer, Thomas Conroy, Dave Devicchio, Merv Eastwick, Tom Grenier, Jack Higgins, Tim McCarthy, Rich Rumfield, Greg Sabol, Heather Swanson, Jim Velcheck, Lynn Vogel; Fish & Wildlife staff: Mark Boriek, Shawn Crouse, Pat Hamilton, Jeff Matthews, Bob Papson, and Chris Smith).