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Summer Trout Fishing in New Jersey


A variety of summer trout fishing opportunities in New Jersey await anglers. Many streams and a handful of lakes that were stocked during the spring continue to harbor trout throughout the summer. The springtime crowds of anglers have disappeared and early morning and evening outings to these waters can be very productive and enjoyable.
Anglers should keep in mind that as the water warms, trout feeding patterns change. On streams, cooler temperatures typically prevail in the early morning and evening hours, and trout feed more willingly then. While daily swings in water temperature do not occur in deep lakes, trout feeding patterns are often similar. During the day, particularly mid to late afternoon, stream water temperatures may rise to levels that are stressful for trout.

Anglers practicing catch-and-release trout fishing should exercise added care during the summer. Once on the line, a trout should not be played to exhaustion, but reeled in quickly, handled as little as possible, and promptly released. Holding a trout in the water, until it has recovered sufficiently to swim away, is sometimes necessary.

Stream fishing for trout can be had in the major trout-stocked streams in northern and central Jersey, where cooler summer water temperatures prevail (Big Flatbrook, Toms River, Manasquan River, Pequest River, Paulinskill upper S/Br. Raritan River, Wanaque River (below Wanaque Reservoir), and the lower Musconetcong River (below Hackettstown). Wild Trout Streams also offer year round action for wild trout enthusiasts. A number of lakes in north Jersey support trout year round and consistently produce big trout, even during the summer.

Rainbow trout caught in Pequest River
Rainbow Trout, including broodstock, remain available in suitable waters like the Pequest River
Here are a few good bets for trout anglers this summer:

Trout Conservation Areas (TCAs)
Perennial summer hot spots are the Year Round and Seasonal TCA's, where anglers may only use artificials lures or flies, and during the summer the harvest is limited to 1 trout at least 15 inches.

The S/Br. Raritan River, as it carves its way through the Claremont Stretch in Morris County, is a boulder and rock-strewn paradise for trout and the aquatic insects they feast upon, such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies.

A scenic 1.2-mile section of the Pequannock River, from the Rt. 23 bridge at Smoke Rise downstream to the Rt. 23 bridge at Smith Mills, is another angler favorite. Wild brown trout and stocked trout lurk among the large boulders that punctuate this stretch. Take Rt. 23 north from I-287 (Exit 52), to access this TCA. Anglers venturing beyond the limits of the TCA will also find productive trout fishing areas. Upstream, above Charlottesburg Reservoir, there is a section regulated as a Wild Trout Stream (daily permit required from NWCDC). Further downstream, a local park in Riverdale along the Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike offers excellent trout fishing in a suburban environment.

Please refer to the Trout Regulations section of the Freshwater Digest for additional areas and regulation information.

Catch and Release Areas
Two year-round special regulation Catch and Release Areas are available to interested anglers. The 4.2-mile stretch of the Big Flatbrook from the Rt. 206 bridge just north of Stokes State Forest office, to the Roy Bridge in the Flatbrook-Roy Wildlife Management Area, including the portion known as the Blewett Tract, is a traditional favorite of fly anglers. More adventurous anglers can investigate the small tributaries trickling down the surrounding mountains into the Big Flatbrook which harbor populations of beautiful wild trout, primarily the colorful brookie, New Jersey's native trout species and official State Fish.

The Ken Lockwood Gorge section of South Branch of the Raritan River (approx. 2.2 miles), within the Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area is another favorite of fly anglers and those seeking an escape from the noise and distraction of traffic: the road in gorge is closed to through traffic.

Please refer to the Trout Regulations section of the Freshwater Digest for regulation information.

Wild Trout Streams
Anglers might be surprised to learn that opportunities to fish for wild trout can also be found in New Jersey. Scattered throughout north Jersey are approximately 175 small streams that support populations of brook, brown, and/or rainbow trout. Of these, 35 have been designated as Wild Trout Streams. The wild trout inhabiting most of these streams are small but feisty, and a challenge to catch.

Two noteworthy wild trout streams, Van Campens Brook, located in the scenic Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Dunnfield Creek by the Delaware Water Gap (Worthington State Park), are very popular and open to public fishing. Van Campens is one of the few streams in the state that harbor reproducing populations of all three trout species.

Wild brook trout
Wild brook trout from Dunnfield Creek
Photo, and fish, courtesy of Mark Sagan
Click to enlarge

Wild brook and rainbow trout are regularly caught in the vicinity of the Millbrook historical village and wary brown trout are common in the lower reaches where the brook empties into the Delaware River. Dunnfield Creek has both brook and brown trout, and if you fish the lower section don't be surprised if you encounter an occasional wild tiger trout, the hybrid offspring produced when brook and brown trout successfully mate.

Trophy & Holdover Trout Lakes
If fishing for large trout is more your style, then head to one of New Jersey's six Holdover and two Trophy Trout Lakes. Trout in these lakes and reservoirs fatten-up on alewives and grow to a much larger size than their stream dwelling counterparts. In the summer you'll need to fish deep, from a boat, as the warm surface waters force the big trout down to the cooler waters below.

In the past, Lake Aeroflex and Lake Wawayanda consistently produced big browns and a few may remain, along with more recently stocked rainbow trout. Today, these two waters, along with Tilcon Lake, have established salmon fisheries which provide the chance to hook into a trophy fish.

Round Valley and Merrill Creek Reservoirs, are impoundments holding lake trout. The state records for brown, rainbow and lake trout come from Round Valley and even beginner anglers have caught some lunker trout in these waters. All of these waters allow only electric motors, except for Round Valley Reservoir where an outboard up to 10 hp is allowed.

Though the trout fishing rituals of spring are but a fond memory, anglers can continue to enjoy trout fishing during the summer months.


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Last Updated: March 1, 2019