The 2012 New Jersey Trout Season officially opened at 8:00 am on April 7. The opening day of Trout Season is the most anticipated day on the annual fishing calendar and by that day, more than 180,000 trout stocked in nearly 200 waterways will be waiting for eager trout anglers.
After opening day, the Pequest Trout Hatchery will stock nearly a half million more trout during the 7-week stocking season, which extends to May 25. The in-season stocking schedule, covering the seven weeks following opening day, is available online at www.njfishandwildlife.com/trtstk12.htm and through the Trout Stocking Hotline at 609-633-6765.
The “production trout” average 10.5 inches but more than 5,000 three-pound to eight-pound breeder trout are mixed in with the production fish during the spring stocking runs. Big trout hunters will also be pleased to hear that every year an increasing number of anglers discover that plenty of the 26,000 fall-stocked 17″ to 24″ bruisers don’t get landed until the spring.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2012
Trout fishing in New Jersey continues to be some of the best available on the East Coast. Feedback from nonresident anglers suggests that the average size of the trout stocked in New Jersey is larger than trout stocked in neighboring states, and the Bonus Broodstock Lakes and the breeder stocking programs provide plenty of trophy size fish within a short drive from anywhere in the state. The 2012 season is expected to provide the normally superb trout fishing opportunities New Jersey anglers have grown to expect and appreciate.
SPRING TROUT SEASON BASICS
Anglers should be aware that 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.). During this time most trout-stocked waters are stocked with trout to provide anglers with great fishing opportunities on Opening Day, April 7.
During this pre-season period you might want to try fishing one of a handful of trout-stocked waters that remain open for fishing. Farrington Lake (Middlesex Co.), Lake Hopatcong (Morris/Sussex counties), Lake Shenandoah (Ocean Co.), and Swartswood Lake (Sussex Co.) are open year round to fishing. Designated Trout Conservation Areas (Seasonal and Year Round) and Holdover Trout Lakes also remain open to fishing. (Note that fishing is not permitted on Seasonal Trout Conservation Areas from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. on April 7, 2012). Trout caught in any of these waters during the pre-season period must be released immediately.
Those looking to fish during the pre-season period and keep their catch can cast a line in either of the state’s two Trophy Trout Lakes, Merrill Creek and Round Valley Reservoirs.
Be sure to check the trout regulations (pdf, 185kb) pertaining to all the above waters.
On Opening Day and the days that follow, there are a few regulations to keep in mind. On most waters anglers may keep 6 trout per day, and the trout must be at least 9 inches long. Since the trout reared at the Pequest Trout Hatchery average 10½ inches when stocked, most of the stocked trout you catch can be harvested if you chose to. June 1 is an important date, as the daily creel limit for trout on most trout waters drops from 6 to 4 per day.
The state’s sixteen major trout streams are stocked every week after Opening Day for the next seven weeks and they are closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of stocking. This allows the trout a chance to disperse following stocking and gives anglers an equal opportunity to fish for freshly stocked trout. All other waters may be fished at any time following Opening Day, including the day they are stocked. Many are stocked at least three times after Opening Day so be sure to check the trout stocking schedule to determine the stocking dates for the waters you plan to fish. Since every county has waters that are stocked with trout, spring trout fishing opportunities are never too far away.
“Hook-a-Winner” jaw-tags are placed on 1,000 brook trout by hatchery staff prior to stocking each spring. Anglers who catch a Hook-a-Winner trout should send their name, address, fish tag number and location of catch to:
Pequest Trout Hatchery
605 Pequest Road
Oxford, NJ 07863
In recognition of your catch you will be mailed a certificate and a patch.
Don’t forget that a fishing license and trout stamp are required to fish for trout and salmon if you are 16 years of age or older. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older can fish for free. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through one of the many license agents statewide, or online.