New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Back to State of NJ Homepage Back to Fish and Wildlife Homepage Back to DEP Homepage 

October 31, 2003


Continuing its popular fall Channel Catfish Stocking Program, the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife released fish in 35 selected waters throughout the western portion of the state October 17-29. Stocking efforts concluded with a total release of 38,520 catfish.

Each fall the Division aims to release about 38,000 channel cats, alternating each year between water bodies in the eastern half of the state and water bodies in the western half. As a result, the Division stocks 93 different water bodies throughout the stateís 21 counties on a biennial basis.

The stocked fish are raised at the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery. The warm water (80 degrees) circulating in this state-of-the-art fish culture facility allows for them to reach their targeted goal of 7 inches in only 3Ĺ months.

Channel catfish spawn in late June and early July when water temperatures reach about 80 degrees. Hatching in just 5-7 days, they are raised intensively (indoors) in 80-degree water and can grow as much as half an inch per week. These fish need to reach the 7-inch target length and 10 fish per pound by the middle of October in order to have enough body weight to survive their first winter in the wild.

The channel catfish is a highly prized sportfish and its exceptional fighting qualities are renown. They can be caught with lures as well as live bait and are generally found in slow moving or still waters with muddy or soft bottoms. Preferring to feed at the waterís floor, they are most active after dark.

The very distinctive channel cat brandishes at least two pairs of whiskers, several spiny fins, numerous sharp teeth and a characteristic lack of external scales on the body or head. Highly developed sensory cells cover the skin providing a sense of taste that extends over the body making this species less dependent on sight and smell than most other fish.

The state record channel catfish is 33 pounds, 3 ounces taken from Lake Hopatcong in 1978.

Division fisheries biologists are aware of the success of the catfish stocking program in several of these water bodies, but there are still many waters where angler feedback is needed. In order for this program to continue, it is important for anglers to report their catches of channel catfish in all stocked waters, especially those marked with an asterisk on the following page. Please contact the Lebanon Fisheries Lab by e-mail at, by telephone at 908-236-2118, or by mail to: P.O. Box 394, Lebanon, NJ 08833. Anglers should also check the Divisionís website at over the next few weeks for a special survey where they can report their catches online.

The release of channel catfish was as follows:

Date		Water Body			Location				# Fish	

10/17		Lake Hopatcong			Hopatcong/Morris Co.			5370	
										Total	5370						
10/21		Furnace Lake			Oxford/Warren Co.			795	
		*Delaware Lake			Knowlton/Warren Co.			900	
		Columbia Lake			Columbia/Warren Co.			1375	
		Swartswood Lake			Stillwater/Sussex Co.			1235	
		Spruce Run Reservoir		Clinton/Hunterdon Co.			2064
										Total	6369
10/22		*Jefferson Lake 		Lockwood/Sussex Co.			1150
		*Mount Hope Pond		Mount Hope/Morris Co.			450
		Speedwell Lake			Morristown/Morris Co.			575
		*Lake Ames			Hibernia/Morris Co.			400
		D&R Canal 3-mile		Zarephath/Somerset Co.			740
		D&R Canal 10-mile		Griggstown/Somerset Co.			1150	
										Total	4465

10/23		Carnegie Lake			Princeton/Mercer Co.			2370	
		*Manalapan Lake			Jamesburg/Middlesex Co.			1000	
		Mercer Lake			Mercerville/Mercer Co.			2062
		*Gropps Lake			Whitehorse/Mercer Co.			650
		*Peddie Lake			Hightstown/Mercer Co.			400
		Rosedale Lake			Rosedale/Mercer Co.			750
		Allentown Pond			Allentown/Monmouth Co.			875
										Total	8107

10/27		*Mirror Lake			Browns Mill/Burlington Co.		2500
		*Swedes Lake			Delran/Burlington Co.			1125
		*Greenwich Lake			Greenwich/Gloucester Co.		500
		*Swedesboro Lake		Swedesboro/Gloucester Co.		500
										Total	4625
10/28		*Giampetro Park Pond		Vineland/Cumberland Co.			275
		*Shaws Mill Pond		Newport/Cumberland Co.			750
		Mary Elmer Lake			Bridgeton/Cumberland Co.		450
		Sunset Lake			Bridgeton/Cumberland Co.		1760
		*Thundergut Lake		Centerton/Salem Co.			350
		*Elmer Lake			Elmer/Salem Co.				1100
										Total	4685
10/29		*Franklinville Lake		Franklinville/Gloucester Co.		450
		*Harrisonville Lake		Harrisonville/Gloucester Co.		750
		*Iona Lake			Porchtown/Gloucester Co.		900
		*Woodstown Lake			Woodstown/Salem Co.			500
		Bostwick Lake			Friesburg/Cumberland Co.		800
		*Hammonton Lake			Hammonton/Atlantic Co.			1500
										Total	4900

									   Grand Total	38521

Back to Fish and Wildlife Homepage Back to NJ State Homepage Back to NJ DEP Homepage