Merrill Creek Reservoir Added to Salmon Stocking Program (11/9/18)
State Record Landlocked Salmon Caught (6/15/18)
Catching Landlocked Salmon (Salmo salar sebago) close to home has never been easier, or more fun, now that Fish and Wildlife is stocking large salmon every fall. Measuring 14-15 inches, these two-year old fish are stocked in select lakes where they can survive year-round, providing anglers with immediate and long-term opportunities to catch this hard-fighting species.
Newly added to the salmon program in 2018, Merrill Creek Reservoir (Warren) is sure to thrill anglers. The salmon complement the Rainbow and Lake Trout fishery in this exceptionally deep (210 ft.), 650-acre Trophy Trout Lake. Designated Holdover Trout Lakes, Wawayanda and Aeroflex (Sussex), and Tilcon Lake (Morris) have been stocked with large salmon in the fall for several years. These waters all have cold, well-oxygenated water and an Alewife forage base to support coldwater fish species (trout and salmon) year-round.
Fish and Wildlife stocks approximately 2,500 to 3,000 salmon, averaging 14-15 inches, each fall. Salmon are stocked when surface water temperatures fall below 60°F (October to early November). Anglers should be aware that salmon regulations vary between designated Holdover Trout Lakes and the Trophy Trout Lake.
Runelvy Rodriguez broke the long-standing state record in 2018 with a 25¾", 8 lb. 5 oz. salmon.
Click to enlarge
Holdover Trout Lakes and their salmon allocations are:
- Lake Wawayanda (Sussex) - 1,275
- Lake Aeroflex (Sussex) - 505
- Tilcon Lake (Morris) - 440
Salmon caught in these lakes must at least 12 inches long to be harvested. The daily limit is two salmon per day except during the spring three-week pre-season closure that precedes the opening day of the trout season in April. During that time frame all trout and salmon must be released immediately and unharmed.
The Trophy Trout Lake and its salmon allocation is:
- Merrill Creek Reservoir (Warren) - 325
In this reservoir the daily creel limit is two salmon, in combination with Brown and Rainbow Trout, and the minimum size is 15 inches for these three species.
The opportunities to catch and keep a hard-fighting salmon in New Jersey have never been better. It's time for you give it a try!
The Evolution of New Jersey's Landlocked Salmon Program
Landlocked Salmon are closely related to Atlantic Salmon. Unlike the anadromous Atlantic Salmon, which migrates from saltwater to spawn in freshwater streams, the landlocked form lives entirely in freshwater. Though native to eastern Canada and Maine, Landlocked Salmon have been successfully introduced to suitable waters outside their native range in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. And New Jersey!
Fisheries worker Nick Ruberto with a salmon bound for Merrill Creek Reservoir
Click to enlarge
Fish and Wildlife's Landlocked Salmon program relies upon receiving surplus salmon, free of charge from Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In return we provide them with surplus northern pike. From 2006 to 2012, the 7 to 8-inch spring yearling salmon we received in May were immediately float-stocked in two lakes (Wawayanda and Aeroflex). These salmon needed at least a year to grow to 12 inches, the minimum size that could be harvested by anglers, and interest in fishing for them never took off.
A dramatic change for the better started taking shape in 2013 when the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery discontinued rearing Lake Trout for Merrill Creek Reservoir (stocking deemed unnecessary there due to successful natural reproduction). Indoor tank space formerly used to grow Lake Trout became available to hold and grow salmon to a much large size prior to stocking. The big salmon were literally an overnight sensation. Suddenly more anglers than ever before were targeting and catching salmon. Excitement continued to grow when Tilcon Lake was added to the stocking program in 2014.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback received from anglers, combined with a change in the availability of salmon from Massachusetts in 2017, prompted further adjustments to our Landlocked Salmon stocking program. Massachusetts now provides us with fingerling salmon much earlier in their growth cycle (in the fall) at a size of 4-5 inches. The fingerlings are immediately placed in several indoor tanks at Hackettstown where, in just one year, they can grow to 14-15 inches! These factors prompted Fish and Wildlife to implement a fall-based stocking program for Landlocked Salmon (effective Fall, 2018).
Landlocked Salmon in New Jersey Brochure (pdf, 90kb)
Focus on Fishing: Lake Trout and Salmon (pdf, 96kb)
Salmon and Trout - Know the Difference (pdf, 640kb)
2018 Holdover Trout Lakes (Salmon-Trout) Regulations (pdf, 185kb)
Salmon Stocking Summary, 2017 (pdf, 80kb)
Salmon Stocking Summary, 2016 (pdf, 24kb)
Salmon Stocking Summary, 2015 (pdf, 24kb)
Salmon Stocking Summary, 2014 (pdf, 21kb)
PAST STOCKINGS NEWS
Large Salmon Again Stocked In Three State Park Lakes - 11/21/17
More Large Salmon Stocked In Three State Park Lakes - 11/7/16
Salmon Stocking Continues in 2016 - 3/15/16
2,400 Landlocked Salmon Stocked in Three Lakes Add to Fall Fishing Season - DEP News Release, 11/6/15
Large Salmon Stocked After Year of Growth at Hackettstown - 5/4/15
More Large Salmon Stocked In State Park Lakes - 10/2/14
Large Salmon Stocked in Tilcon Lake, Morris County - 4/22/14
Additional Salmon Stocked in Two Sussex County Lakes - 12/5/13
Landlocked Salmon Arrive in New Jersey 5/17/06 DEP News Release
Trout Fishing in New Jersey