NEW JERSEY – Due to the continuing pandemic and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to reduce exposure of staff and the public to possible transmission of Covid-19, the 2021 trout stocking program is again modified. Rather than the traditional three-week preseason closure followed by seven weeks of in-season stockings, the season will be as follows:
- March 15-March 31: Fishing prohibited on trout stocked waters as pre-season stocking begins*. Catch and release for trout in all other waters. (* See below)
- April 1 at 8 a.m. – April 9: Trout stocked waters will be open to catch-and-release fishing
- April 10 (12:00 a.m. – 7:59 a.m.): Waters closed to all fishing
- April 10 at 8:00 a.m.: Opening day of trout season
From April 10 to May 31 the minimum legal size is 9″ with a daily limit of 6 trout in most trout waters. Beginning June 1 through March 20, 2022 the legal size remains 9″ but the daily limit is reduced to 4 trout.
The production of trout at the Pequest Trout Hatchery has not been affected by the pandemic. In addition to approximately 570,000 production (10.5″) trout, there will be approximately 6,000 two- and three year-old broodstock, ranging in size from 14″-26″ and weighing up to 7 lbs. stocked this spring. These trophy size fish are slated for waters across the state which are suitable for fish of that size and which do not conflict with management goals.
Season trout summary:
- A total of 500,000 trout will be distributed in four weeks during pre-season stocking which will begin on March 15 instead of March 22 as originally planned.
- Trout stocked waters will be closed to fishing beginning March 15. (* See Exceptions below)
- Trout stocked waters will be open to catch-and-release fishing on April 1 at 8 am through April 9.
- Opening day of trout season is April 10 at 8am with a daily limit of six trout.
- No Bonus Broodstock Lakes will be designated in 2021. Broodstock will be distributed throughout the state.
- There will be no in-season waterbody closures.
- The remaining 70,000-75,000 trout will be stocked during the week of May 10.
All anglers should remember:
- All regulations for special regulation waters remain in effect (e.g. TCAs, Catch & Release Areas, and Trophy/Holdover waters).
- Established seasons, size, and creel limits for all other species apply.
- There will be no in-season closures on any waters.
Since every county has waters that are stocked with trout, trout fishing opportunities are never too far away.
Brown and Brook Trout are still available, and regulations are in place to keep it that way (see page 22 in the 2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest). Waterbodies such as the South Branch Raritan River, Pequannock River and Big Flat Brook, (to name a few) have naturally reproducing trout in them that will surprise and delight many lucky anglers with their beautiful markings and coloration.
There are several waters that remain open for catch-and-release trout fishing: Lake Hopatcong (Morris/Sussex), Mountain Lake (Warren), Prospertown Lake (Ocean), Lake Shenandoah (Ocean), Swartswood Lake (Sussex), and the section of Lawrence Brook from Davidsons Mill Rd. to Farrington Lake dam are open year round to fishing.
Catch and Release Only, Seasonal, and Year-Round Trout Conservation Areas and designated Holdover Trout Lakes are also open to fishing. However, trout caught in any of these waters during this period must be released immediately. Note that, fishing is not permitted on Seasonal Trout Conservation Areas from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. on April 10, 2021. Trout can be harvested from the state’s two Trophy Trout Lakes, Merrill Creek and Round Valley Reservoirs. Be sure to check the Freshwater Digest for regulations pertaining to these waters.
Don’t forget that a fishing license and trout stamp are required to fish for trout if you are 16 years or older. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older can fish without a license. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through one of the many license agents statewide, or online. Exceptions: Trophy Tout Lakes, Lake Hopatcong, Mountain Lake, Lake Shenandoah, Lawrence Brook (section from Davidson’s Mill Rd. to Farrington Lake dam), Prospertown Lake and Swartswood Lake are open year round to fishing. However, all trout caught during this period (above) must be released immediately. Catch and release opens April 1 at 8 a.m. Seasonal and Year-round Trout Conservation Areas and designated Holdover Trout Lakes (see pages 21–23 in the Trout Regulations) are also open to fishing but are catch-and-release only for trout. Fishing is not permitted on Seasonal Trout Conservation Areas from 12:01 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on April 10, 2021. Round Valley and Merrill Creek Reservoirs (Trophy Trout Lakes) are open to year round fishing; trout may be harvested within the regulations as shown on page 23 in the Trout Regulations.
2021 spring trout stocking updates/changes:
Waters stocked each day will be listed in the Updates section on the Trout Stocking Schedule Page. There will be no regular in-season stockings in 2021 due to COVID-19.
- 3/5/21 – Spooky Brook Park Pond (Somerset Co.) – Will not be stocked due to ongoing work to dredge the lake.
- 3/3/21 – Hooks Creek Lake (Middlesex Co.) – Due to the fluctuating salinity levels, Hook’s Creek Lake remains suspended from the Trout Stocking Program until salinity levels become more stable.
Any deviations from the stocking schedule are also noted on the 2021 Spring Stocking Schedules page.