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March 14, 2001


For more information contact:
Bob Soldwedel at 609-292-8642

Saturday, April 7, is the opening day of the 2001 trout season in New Jersey. At 8 a.m. the season officially begins at all waters open to public angling.

This year, approximately 600,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout will be released into nearly 200 streams and lakes throughout the state by the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife. The trout are raised at the Division's Pequest Trout Hatchery & Natural Resource Education Center in Warren County and measure 10-11 inches in length with weights averaging about pound. In addition to these trout, another 6,000 breeders measuring 16-24 inches in length and weighing an average of 2-5 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. During the pre-season stocking period, the majority of trout stocked waters are closed to fishing. However, there are two trophy trout lakes, a few holdover trout lakes and several Trout Conservation Areas that remain fishable. Anglers should consult the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, Freshwater Fishing issue for specific regulations and can also visit the Division's website at for more information on trout fishing.

As far as waterways are concerned, New Jersey hosts more than 8,600 miles of streams and over 4,100 freshwater lakes, ponds and impoundments larger than one acre. 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, three streams - Flanders Brook, Van Campens Brook and Mulhockaway Creek 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.

Trout anglers should also note that New Jersey 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 weighmaster's signature are necessary. Other specific rules apply. For more information or to request an application, call 609-633-7768.

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 in Rockaway River
Brown Trout   21 lbs., 6 ozs.  Caught in 1995 in Round Valley Reservoir
Lake Trout     24 lbs., 14 ozs.   Caught in 1994 in Round Valley Reservoir
Rainbow Trout   13 lbs.   Caught in 1988 in Lake Hopatcong
In addition, the International Game Fish Association honors line-class categories in New Jersey. In fact, the categories for brown and rainbow trout are currently vacant. 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

NOTE: Weekly stocking schedules are posted on the Division's Website. Those with touch-tone phones may wish to call the Division's computerized 24-hour trout stocking hotline for a weekly, updated list of waters slated for spring stocking beginning Wednesday, April 4. The number is 609-633-6765.