More than a half million freshly stocked rainbow trout will be available when anglers cast their lines in New Jersey waters this April, Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced today.
The official Trout season kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, offering an excellent opportunity to spend quality time outdoors while enjoying some of the best trout fishing on the East Coast. In the Murphy Administration’s continuing efforts to promote social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19, DEP’s Division of Fish & Wildlife implemented an accelerated trout stocking schedule that will enable fish and anglers to spread out in advance of opening day. To further ensure good public health measures, like the avoidance of crowds and social distancing, a pre-season catch-and-release period for trout will run from Thursday, April 1 to Friday, April 9.
“Thanks to DEP’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, which has been hard at work with advanced trout stocking, New Jersey residents and visitors can enjoy trout fishing while avoiding crowds and maintaining social distancing, because the trout raised at our Pequest Hatchery have already had time to spread out themselves,” Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said. “I encourage anglers young and old, experienced and novice, to take full advantage of our quality stocking program. Having access to excellent trout fishing and the beauty of New Jersey’s great outdoors is a wonderful way to safely spend a day with family and friends. But please, remember to mask up!”
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, this year’s trout stocking is being done over a four-week period that began March 15. Anglers are reminded to maintain a 6-foot distance from one another while fishing and to wear face masks or coverings.
An additional 70,000 to 75,000 trout will be stocked during the week of May 10, bringing the spring stocking total to more than 570,000 trout. There will be no in-season closures on any waters. Most trout being stocked will average 10½ inches in length.
From April 10 to May 31, the minimum legal catch size is 9 inches, with a daily limit of six trout in most trout waters. Beginning June 1 and continuing through March 20, 2022, the catch size will remain the same and the daily limit will drop to four trout.
The Bonus Broodstock Program is suspended for 2021 due to the accelerated stocking program. Instead, approximately 6,000 two- and three-year-old broodstock, ranging in size from 14 inches to 26 inches and weighing up to 7 pounds will be stocked this spring in waters across the state that are suitable for fish of that size and which do not conflict with management goals.
“Fishing has never been better, and word is spreading about the quality of the trout we stock,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Golden. “Every New Jersey county has waters that are stocked with trout, which means that excellent fishing opportunities and access to great places to fish are always close to home.”
For spring trout fishing information visit njfishandwildlife.com/trtinfo_spring.htm.
Rules and regulations regarding freshwater fishing in New Jersey can be found in the 2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest at njfishandwildlife.com/digfsh.htm. Print copies of the Digest are also available at license agents.
Anyone age 16 or older must obtain a New Jersey Fishing License and Trout Stamp to fish for trout. Anglers may purchase these at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com/ or through license agents. For a list of agents, visit njfishandwildlife.com/agentlst.htm.
Anglers may also save money through the Buddy Up and Save! Program. Introduce a family member or friend to fishing by getting a Fishing Buddy License. This license offers both an existing angler and new angler (or even two new anglers) an opportunity to receive discounted fishing licenses. For information about the Fishing Buddy License, visit njfishandwildlife.com/fishbuddy.htm.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Pequest Trout Hatchery is supported with proceeds from the sale of fishing licenses, trout stamps and federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program.
The dedicated funding received from the purchase of a fishing license and fishing equipment enables the Division of Fish and Wildlife to enhance fishing opportunities in New Jersey and protect the quality of the state’s waters for fish, wildlife and people.