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2007 Trout Fishing Outlook

By Pat Hamilton
Principal Fisheries Biologist
March, 2007

Another spring draws near and so, too, does the opening day of New Jersey's trout season. Many anglers have already marked their calendars for the big day, Saturday, April 7 at 8 a.m. This day is the single, most eagerly anticipated, day of the year for anglers who like to wet their lines for trout. Fishing is a great way to spend time with family and friends. This year, most children will be on vacation during the week following opening day, so it's a perfect time to take a child fishing for trout. Fishing is easy, and all the information you need to get started trout fishing in New Jersey is right here.

This spring over 570,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout reared at the Pequest Trout Hatchery will be stocked into 93 streams and 88 ponds and lakes throughout New Jersey. Nearly 1/3 of these trout (181,000) will be stocked prior to opening day. Most of the spring-stocked trout will average 10 inches, but there's always a chance of hooking one of the big broodstock trout that are also stocked each spring. I'm betting that more than just a few of the 14 -16" long trout, that were stocked last fall or winter, will be caught this spring as well. Since every county has waters that are stocked with trout, trout fishing opportunities are never too far away.

Here are a few highlights that will be of particular interest to trout anglers. Trout stocking resumes at Clarks Pond in Bloomfield, Essex County, and has been temporarily suspended in two other waters (Bostwick Lake, Cumberland County and Dahnert's Lake, Bergen County). The spring trout allocations for most waters have changed little from last year, however, one exception is Pohatcong Creek, which will receive substantially more trout this spring.

  Changes to the in-season stocking schedule have been made, which primarily affect waters in central and south Jersey. More trout will be tagged for the "Hook-a-Winner" program, with additional prizes to be awarded. Although stream flows have been a bit low, as of mid-March everything is a "go" in terms of trout stocking. Any deviations from the stocking schedule will be noted on the linked page and on the 24/7 Trout Hotline (609-633-6765).

Angler with bonus broodstock
Hamilton Fire Pond was one location for bonus broodstock trout in 2006.
Click to enlarge
Photo courtesy Jim Velcheck - WCC volunteer

Springtime isn't the only time to fish for trout. Great trout fishing opportunities can be found year round in the Garden State. Fish and Wildlife also stocks trout in the fall and winter, and these 2-year old trout are much bigger than the yearlings that are stocked in the spring. You can also try your luck fishing for wild, naturally reproduced trout born in the stream and not in the hatchery. Landlocked salmon, lake trout, and sea-run brown trout round out New Jersey's repertoire of coldwater sportfish.

The outlook for trout fishing in New Jersey looks GREAT! Provided below is a rundown, complete with details, on what's new and in store for trout anglers in 2007, as well as other helpful information. You may also want to read the "Nonstop Trout Jersey Fresh" article on page 31 in the Freshwater Digest for more about the amazing variety of trout fishing opportunities New Jersey has to offer.

Tempting Places to Trout Fish Before Opening Day (March 19 - April 6)

Most trout-stocked waters are closed to fishing during the 3 weeks leading up to opening day (March 19 - April 7 at 8 a.m.). But during this time there are waters that remain open for trout fishing. Here are some great options to consider.

Trout Conservation Areas (TCA's)
On March 19, all the Seasonal and Year Round TCA's are stocked with trout (except the Claremont stretch on the S/Br. Raritan River, where trout reproduce and stocking is not warranted). It's catch & release fishing at its best, but only artificial lures & flies may be used during this period. See page 19 of the Freshwater Digest for regulation details. Driving directions to each TCA can be found on page 16.

Holdover and Trophy Trout Lakes
These special regulation lakes are open for fishing year round. Trout can be harvested from the Trophy Trout Lakes (Merrill Creek & Round Valley Reservoirs), while its catch and release for trout at the Holdover Trout Lakes. Shoreline fishing at Round Valley really heats up during this period, so even if you don't have a boat, you can do quite well fishing from shore. Page 19 of the Freshwater Digest lists all the waters covered by this regulation. Be aware that ice may linger on some of the most northerly lakes in March and early April.

Wild Trout Streams
You have your pick of 35 designated WTS scattered across northern tier of the state, where your biggest prize of the day might be a 8 or 9-inch wild and wily trout. During the pre-season period all trout caught must be promptly returned to the water (catch & release), and artificial lure and flies must be used at all times. See page 18 in the Freshwater Digest for details.

Spring Trout Allocations & Changes to Individual Waters

The spring allocations have been generated using our computerized database which takes into account a variety of characteristics, including such things as waterbody size, access, seasonal or year round trout fishery, etc. The weekly allocations (and the day of the week stocked) for each trout-stocked water can be found at Significant changes from last year's allocations are as follows:

Trout stocking resumes at Clarks Pond in Bloomfield, Essex County. The dredging project has been completed and the pond has been re-instated to the stocking list. It is stocked only during the pre-season period and receives 420 trout.

Stocking has been temporarily suspended in two waters. The dam at Bostwick Lake (Cumberland Co.) has not been repaired and the lake is unsuitable for stocking this spring. Trout will not be stocked at Dahnert's Lake (Bergen County) this spring due to an ongoing lake restoration project.

On several streams some traditional stocking locations have been dropped, or new ones added. In those instances, the mileage figure (used in determining the stream's trout allocation) was updated in the database and the allocations then adjusted accordingly. These streams and the stocking point changes are:

Lopatcong Creek - Stocking has been discontinued above the Rt. 519 bridge (this conforms to the established trout stocking boundaries for the creek, plus wild brook trout inhabit the stream in this upper reach). Further downstream, behind the Agway in Phillipsburg, the stream has been re-opened to fishing now that the dam removal and stream restoration project has been completed.

Pequannock River - The Generant Factory property will no longer be stocked because the manager does not allow anglers to park and access the river.

Pohatcong Creek - A number of new stocking points have been added, with most on private land where the owner has agreed to allow public fishing (by Herlemann Road, stretch between I-78 and Rt. 173, and several more locations off Ravine and Creek Roads). Ramapo River - Stocking has been discontinued at four locations (Duty Rd. bridge, Center Ave. bridge and nearby "stop sign", and Bear Swamp Rd. bridge) due to poor access and/or poor river conditions in those areas.

Wallkill River - An additional stocking point was added below the Rt. 94 bridge (within walking distance of the bridge).

Spring Trout Allocations

Anglers on the Musconetcong
Opening day 2006 on the Musconetcong River
Click to enlarge

Trout Plentiful for Opening Day - 181,000 Freshly Stocked Trout Await Anglers

Over 181,000 trout will be stocked during the 3 weeks leading up to opening day. Last year water conditions were great on opening day, especially on the streams, and despite some rain, angler turn out was high. If you recall, last year we upped the total number of trout stocked before opening day on 16 of our most popular trout-stocked streams (those having closed in-season stocking dates) by 16,000.

I observed anglers catching trout after trout, all morning long, on the Musconetcong River and the same was true at many other waters, according to our opening day angler counts and surveys. Fish and Wildlife staff and Wildlife Conservation Corps volunteers conduct these informal surveys, so don't be surprised if someone approaches you the morning to record your fishing success.

New Signs to Designate Trout-stocked Waters

New signs will be placed along our trout-stocked waters this spring. They will state that public fishing is allowed at the posted location, and will also remind anglers to respect the landowner and their property. Gaining fishing access to a lake is rarely a problem, as state, county or local governments own most.

But it's a different story on streams. They often flow through a patchwork of privately and publicly owned land. Private landowners are not required to allow public access to the stream, but fortunately a good many do. Fish and Wildlife may stock trout in streams that are privately owned, but only if the landowner allows public access for fishing. These signs will let anglers know with certainty that fishing is allowed. Leave your fishing spot as you found it, or even clean up after a thoughtless individual. This will help ensure that these privately owned stretches remain open to public fishing.

Trout Stocked Water - In-season Closures Sign (pdf, 11kb)
Trout Stocked Water - No In-season Closures Sign (pdf, 11kb)

Where Are the Trout-stocked Waters?

Trout-stocked waters are listed by county in the Freshwater Digest on pages 14-15 (those with no in-season stocking closures) closed and page 19 (those having in-season stocking closures). Finding these waters, including specific access locations along streams, has never been easier. Check the access links below.

When are Waters Stocked with Trout, and How Many Will Be Stocked?

The weekly spring allocations and the day of stocking for each trout-stocked water are conveniently summarized in a 6-page handout. Or you may call the Trout Hotline 609-633-6878 to learn the stocking schedule for the week of your choosing. The schedule does change from year to year, and this year there were a number of changes in central and south Jersey (to make efficient use of the trucks and personnel that do the stocking). The trout will still be stocked during the same week, but not necessarily the same day, as last year. So it is a good idea to check this year's schedule before heading out to fish to avoid disappointment.

Weekly Stocking Schedule

The BIG Ones - Where Are They?

This year's 9 Bonus Broodstock ponds and lakes have already been announced. Each year a different set of waters is selected statewide, and there's bound to be an opportunity near to you. These 9 waterbodies generally receive 30 - 50 of these big trout that are 14 - 19" and weigh upwards of 5 pounds. The odds of catching a big one are in your favor if you try one of these waters. Anglers had a blast last year catching these lunkers at Hamilton Fire Pond (photo at top)

Broodstock are also sprinkled in with the loads of 10-11 inch trout that go out before opening day to all waters (except the smallest of streams that can't accommodate these big fish, and the Holdover/Trophy Trout Lakes, where the regular- sized stocked trout can grow big on their own).

Last fall and winter, Fish and Wildlife began stocking bigger, 14 -16" trout. Some of them, maybe a lot of them, are still waiting to be caught. The angler pictured here caught this trout in March on the Raritan River, a week before the start of the pre-season closure (March 19 - April 7 at 8 a.m.). My guess is that it was one of the nice, fall-stocked brookies that went in last fall further up river. On a side note, check out the nice "smallie" caught by his fishing buddy last year that scored big in the Skillful Angler Awards Program.

Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes

Raritan River trout
The Raritan River is a favorite of trout anglers.
Click to enlarge

"Hook-a-Winner" With a New Twist

For the 9th year in a row, Fish and Wildlife will place "Hook-a-Winner" jaw-tags on trout that are stocked in the spring. As in the past, 1,000 brook trout will be tagged and stocked before opening day. This year an additional 1,000 trout will be tagged and stocked during the 2nd week after opening day (April 16 -20). Anglers will have double the chance of catching a Hook-a-Winner trout. Those that do can claim their prize (a certificate and pin) and are automatically entered into a special contest sponsored by the State Council of Trout Unlimited. The tradition of awarding rod and reel combos to 12 lucky anglers will continue this year. This year, another 12 winners will be selected and invited to spend a day fishing for trout at the Fishing Education Pond at the Pequest Trout Hatchery. Each winner will be allowed bring up to three family members or friends.

Hook-a-Winner Program

Landlocked Salmon - the Latest Buzz

The salmon were stocked last May in Lake Aeroflex and Lake Wawayanda, and it is expected that they will attain 12 inches later this year (the minimum harvestable size). More salmon will be stocked this spring and Fish and Wildlife will continue to monitor this unique, developing fishery and keep anglers apprised.

Landlocked Salmon in New Jersey

Fall & Winter-stocked Trout - the Big Ones Are Here to Stay!

Fish and Wildlife will continue to stock 14-16" trout under the fall and winter trout stocking programs. The responses we received from anglers who went fishing for the trout stocked last fall and winter were overwhelming positive. This fall anglers can expect to see brown trout stocked in addition to brook and rainbow trout. The trout allocations and stocking schedule will be announced later on in the year.

Getting Started Fishing for Trout - Techniques & Tips

Helpful tips for beginners and seasoned anglers can be found in the Freshwater Digest. The best type of rod and reel to use, and what to tie on the end of the line that will get the attention of trout, can be found on pages 42-43 in the Freshwater Digest. Don't forget to purchase a fishing license if you are 16 through 69 years old, and also a trout stamp. These may be obtained through one of the many license agents statewide, or online.

Trout Fishing Facts & Information (When, Where, How) (pdf, 20kb)


arrow Spring 2007 Trout Allocations with Day Stocked
arrow Weekly Stocking Schedules
arrow Bonus Broodstock Ponds and Lakes
arrow Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Alphabetical Listing
arrow Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Listed by County
arrow Places to Fish - Streams
arrow Places to Fish - Ponds
arrow "Hook-a-Winner" Program
arrow Trout Fishing Facts & Information (When, Where, How) (pdf, 18kb)
arrow Sea Run Brown Trout
arrow 2007 Trout Regulations (pdf, 79kb)
arrow License Information
arrow General Fishing Regulations
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Last Updated: April 9, 2007