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April 12, 2003 (rt23 news) - This spring, the Department of Environmental Protectionís Division of Fish and Wildlife will release more than 575,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout into nearly 200 streams and lakes throughout the State. The trout are raised at the Divisionís Pequest Trout Hatchery & Natural Resource Education Center in Warren County and measure 10-11 inches in length with weights between one-half and one pound. In addition to these trout, another 5,000 breeders measuring 16-24 inches in length and weighing an average of 2-3 pounds will be released as well.

Spring trout stocking begins about three weeks prior to the opening day of trout season in April and continues for another seven weeks after the season starts. The species of trout stocked in the spring are brooks, browns and rainbows. Brook trout are stocked first during pre-season weeks since they are easier to catch and help to increase angler success in the beginning of the season. Rainbow trout are next, usually released during the first or second weeks of in-season stocking efforts. By the fifth or sixth weeks, brown trout are ready to be released. The browns are saved until the end of the stocking regime since they are partial to warmer water temperatures and will holdover much better at this time. Some trout waters are closed on specific dates and times during pre and in-season trout stocking periods, check the 2003 New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, Freshwater Fishing issue for information on fishing specific waters and associated regulations.

This year, there are several trout stocking location changes throughout the State. Pine Brook in Monmouth County was removed from the list of trout stocked waters due to poor access and lack of fishing activity. Pohatcong Lake in Tuckerton, Ocean County was added to the list of trout stocked waters. This lake is a popular location that has been used as a site for the Childrenís Fishing Derby Program and is the only freshwater fishing opportunity in this area. Waywayanda Creek in Sussex County will be added to the list of trout stocked waters. It was not stocked in the past due to access limitations. Biologists are currently working with Division of Parks and Forestry staff to put in a handicapped access area and it will be stocked pre-season only.

As far as waterways are concerned, New Jersey stocks 95 streams (350 miles) and 89 freshwater lakes, ponds and impoundments (12,400 surface acres). For the North Jersey trout angler, the following rivers are exceptional: Big Flatbrook, Little Flatbrook, Raritan River South Branch, Pequest, Paulinskill, Musconetcong and Black River. In addition to these, there are numerous tributary streams stocked with trout by the Division and many more inhabited by wild trout. In fact, two streams - Flanders Brook and Van Campens Brook support all three species of wild trout! There are special regulations that apply for wild trout, so please be sure to check the Digest. For those who prefer to fish central and south Jersey waters, the Manasquan, Metedeconk, Delaware-Raritan Canal, Toms River, Cohansey and Maurice Rivers are excellent for trout fishing. In addition, more than a third of the lakes and ponds trout stocked by the Division every year are located in the southern half of the State. Finally, most winter trout stocked lakes remain full of trout. Places like Birch Grove Park Pond (Atlantic County), Laurel Pond (Burlington County), Amwell Lake (Hunterdon County), Topenemus Lake (Monmouth County), Sheppards Lake (Passaic County), Little Swartswood Lake (Sussex County) and Furnace Lake (Warren County) are fine bets for excellent trout fishing.

Trout Conservation Areas are stocked early during the pre-season stocking period. These excellent holdover fisheries are open for catch and release fishing during the Pre-Season Closure (up until midnight April 11). These waters include designated sections on the Paulinskill E/Br, Raritan River S/Br (Ken Lockwood Gorge and Claremont sections), Toms River, Pequannock River, Pequest River and the Musconetcong River. Remember to leave the bait buckets at home as artificial lures only are allowed in these areas.

According to a new report on fishing statistics published by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), angling has anchored a solid position among Americansí favorite forms of recreation. More than 44 million Americans fish and 805,870 of them live in New Jersey. Over 750 million in retail sales was generated by Garden State anglers, which rippled through the economy to generate $1.4 billion in economic output for the State. Further, the New Jersey fishing industry supports nearly 13,000 jobs and those workers earned $342 million in salaries and wages. Finally, fishing-related purchases in the Garden State generated $8 million in State tax revenues and $58.8 million in federal income tax. A number of reports strongly indicate that fishing is identified by American families as one of the best ways to spend quality time together. A recent nationwide Harris Poll found that fishing was ranked the most popular outdoor activity in America and was the fourth favorite leisure pastime, behind reading, watching television and spending time with family. Fishing also greatly supports our nationís conservation efforts through the Sport Fish Restoration Program. Special taxes on fishing gear and motorboat fuel channel hundreds of millions of anglersí dollars toward State fish and wildlife conservation and recreation programs each year. To view the full report, visit the American Sportfishing Associationís website at

Trout anglers should note that the Division of Fish and Wildlife has two official fishing recognition programs -- the State Record Fish Program which honors the largest species of fish caught in the State and the Skillful Angler Program which recognizes anglers who catch fish of "not quite record," but nonetheless substantial size. Each revolves around a specific list of eligible freshwater and saltwater species. The Record Fish Program is based on weight alone (there are no line classes) and the Skillful Angler Program involves a minimum weight requirement for each species category listed. Scale certification documentation and a weighmasterís signature are necessary. Other specific rules apply. For more information, visit the Divisionís website at The skillful angler minimum weight requirements for trout are: Brook Trout 3 lbs. Brown Trout 8 lbs. Lake Trout 8 lbs. Rainbow Trout 5 lbs. The current State Record trout are: Brook Trout 7 lbs., 3 ozs. Caught in 1995 Rockaway River Brown Trout 21 lbs., 6 ozs. Caught in 1995 Round Valley Reservoir Lake Trout 32 lbs., 8 ozs. Caught in 2002 Round Valley Reservoir Rainbow Trout 13 lbs. Caught in 1988 Lake Hopatcong In addition, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) honors line-class categories in New Jersey. Any catch over a pound, in any qualifying species could qualify for a New Jersey freshwater line class record recognized by the IGFA. Catch and release is acceptable. For a list of eligible record species and an application form visit

The ice and snow cover that accumulated this winter and above normal precipitation will provide ample water levels and stream flows this spring. Anglers can expect an exciting year of great trout fishing in New Jersey. Individuals with touch-tone phones can call the Divisionís computerized 24-hour trout stocking hotline for a weekly, updated list of waters slated for spring stocking. The number is 609-633-6765. Information on trout and trout fishing in New Jersey as well as weekly stocking schedules is also available on the Divisionís website noted earlier. Anglers can also purchase fishing licenses and trout stamps online through the website.

Posted by: Staff at
Website: Division of Fish and Wildlife
April 12, 2003


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