The following article was published in the Hunterdon Review on Oct. 7, 2019.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has kicked off the start of fall trout season on Tuesday, Oct. 8, by stocking many of New Jersey’s rivers, lakes, streams and ponds with thousands of large rainbow trout, according to Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.
And on Saturday, Oct. 19, anglers of all ages and skill levels can try freshwater fishing without having to purchase a fishing license during the state’s second Free Fishing Day of the year. On this day, residents and non-residents can fish without a license or trout stamp. Other regulations however, including size and daily catch limits, remain in effect.
Free Fishing Days provide an opportunity to fish for a wide variety of fish including trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel and numerous panfish species, as well as muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish and hybrid striped bass.
More than 21,000 two-year-old rainbow trout, ranging from 14 inches to 18 inches in length and weighing 1-1/2 pounds, along with some three-year-old broodstock, averaging around four pounds each, will be stocked throughout the state through Wednesday, Oct. 16. The trout are raised at the Pequest State Trout Hatchery in Warren County.
“Fall is the best time of year for enjoying some great trout fishing and spending time outdoors,” Commissioner McCabe said. “New Jersey’s trout stocking program provides excellent fishing opportunities, while spectacular scenery and beautiful weather provide the perfect backdrop for enjoying this pastime with family and friends.”
Waters stocked during the first week of fall stocking include 16 large streams and rivers in northern and coastal areas such as the South Branch of the Raritan River, Musconetcong River, Big Flatbook, Pequest River and the Manasquan and Toms rivers. Many of the rivers to be stocked also have fish that were released previously, providing even more opportunities to catch bigger fish.
During the second week, 20 ponds and lakes in the central and southern regions of the state will be stocked. All fall-stocked waters may be fished as soon as they are stocked – there are no “closed waters” during fall stocking.
“New Jersey’s fall trout fishing is among the best anywhere, and I encourage new anglers to head to their favorite waterway this year and try it,” Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Golden said. “Trout fishing is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors this time of year in the Garden State.”
For a complete list of trout-stocked waters, the stocking schedule, regulations, fishing access points and trout fishing facts, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/trtinfo_fall.htm.
Stocking information is also available by calling the Trout Stocking Hotline at (609) 633-6765. Stocking updates will be posted as needed.
Except for Free Fishing Days, anyone age 16 or older must obtain a fishing license to fish New Jersey’s fresh waters. A trout stamp is also required to fish for trout. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older may fish without a license.
Anglers who have yet to purchase their 2019 fishing license can introduce a friend or family member to fishing at a reduced price by purchasing a “Fishing Buddy” license. These discounted licenses are available to resident anglers ages 16 to 64, or any nonresident angler over age 16 who purchases an annual New Jersey freshwater fishing license at the same time as their buddy. For more about the Fishing Buddy license, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/fishbuddy.htm.