|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
October 4, 2001
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers that October and November are the prime months to experience the exciting new fishing opportunity of catching sea run brown trout in the Manasquan River.
In New Jersey, the Manasquan River is one of the few streams stocked with brown trout during the trout season where stocking occurs relatively close to the point where saltwater meets freshwater. In Europe, young brown trout migrate from the streams to the saline estuaries and open saltwater to take advantage of abundant marine food sources. Here they grow quickly and within several years are 4-6 pounds when they return to the freshwater river of their origin to spawn. Reports of occasional catches of sea-run trout by sport and commercial fishermen along the north Jersey coast and by sport anglers in the Manasquan River were an indication that the brown trout stocked there were finding their way to and surviving in saltwater habitats.
Seeing the opportunity to develop a new and exciting sport fishery in the Manasquan, 16,000 eight-inch brown trout raised at the Pequest Hatchery were stocked in the tidal portions of the river in 1997. To date, over 110,000 surplus brown trout have been stocked here in the fall in an effort to jump-start this trout angling novelty. An additional 30,000 brown trout are slated for stocking this October.
"This new program is proving to be extremely promising with sea run browns up to 9 pounds being reported by Manasquan anglers," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "I'd like to thank the many anglers who took the time to report their catches. The information provided is invaluable in evaluating the success of the program."
One area on the Manasquan River that has produced sea run brown trout of two to five pounds is above the Squankum Dam near the Howell golf course. Sea run browns are attracted to this area and concentrate there once they negotiate the Squankum Dam during high flow events or even leaping when the water is low.
Browns that migrate from the stream to the estuary and open saltwater usually spend two or more years taking advantage of abundant marine food sources before they return to freshwater on a spawning run in the fall. Less wary at this time, they are more vulnerable to angling. These brown trout will seek out gravel bar areas where there is an upwelling of oxygenated water especially after a rain. Females become aware of these conditions during their movement upstream and select preferred areas for spawning often located at the head of a riffle or the tail of pools where gravel slopes gently upwards and sedimentation has less effect.
Sea run trout have been caught on a variety of lures and bait including white wooly bugger flies, spinners, spoons, night crawlers, garden worms and mealworms. Although October through November are the prime months for spawning activities, these fish have been caught throughout the year. Last November 5 lb. and 9 lb. sea-run browns were caught in the Manasquan and were fish that were stocked as part of the program. The 5-pounder was stocked just a year earlier.
This program is a cooperative effort between Trout Unlimited and the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Program costs have been kept to a minimum, as the trout that are stocked in the fall are surplus spring hatchery fish. Trout Unlimited Chapters have provided financial assistance to feed the fish during the summer and also supply volunteer labor for fin-clipping.
Evaluating the success and determining the future of this program relies almost exclusively on fish being reported when caught. Silvery and deep bodied in appearance these brown trout have a clipped adipose or left pelvic fin. Fishermen should be able to see where fins have been clipped. Anglers are asked to report all catches of brown trout in tidal water to the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries at (908) 236-2118 or (908) 637-4173, or via e-mail to Mark Boriek at email@example.com.
Note: See the following pages for more information on sea run browns:
Sea Run Brown Trout Program
Sea Run Brown Trout Program Information
Please Report Your Sea Run Brown Catches
"New Jersey's Most Wanted Fish"