TRENTON – Anglers may cast their hopes for a great catch this weekend, as New Jersey waterways – freshly stocked with more than 180,000 rainbow trout – are ready for the beginning of spring trout season on Saturday, April 8.
Approximately 100,000 anglers of all ages are expected to head to their favorite fishing spots on opening day, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Trout season in New Jersey, bolstered by the efforts of staff at the state’s Pequest Trout Hatchery which is marking its 40th anniversary, provides an excellent opportunity to spend quality time outdoors while also enjoying some outstanding fishing.
“The quality of New Jersey’s trout fishing as well as the trout we stock is outstanding,” said NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Assistant Commissioner Dave Golden. “Exciting fishing opportunities are plentiful in every county, meaning great places to fish are easily accessible and can always be found close to home.”
“I can’t think of a better way to welcome spring, than to enjoy the crisp morning air while fishing for trout with my family,” said NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Freshwater Fisheries Bureau Chief Shawn Crouse. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of raising trout at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and it’s great to see staff’s hard work pay off for our anglers. We are always looking to improve our stocking program, so I encourage all trout anglers to look for an online survey following the season, where they can make their voices heard.”
There will be approximately 570,000 rainbow trout stocked in waterbodies across the state by the end of the spring stocking season, with most trout averaging 10 ½ inches in length and weighing about a half-pound each.
In addition to these trout, approximately 6,000 broodstock, which are large, mature trout ranging in size from 14 to 26 inches and weighing up to seven pounds, will be stocked this spring. These trophy-size fish are slated for waters across the state suitable for fish their size.
For additional excitement, Fish & Wildlife also stocks higher numbers of broodstock in select trout-stocked ponds and small lakes through its Bonus Broodstock program. This year, 10 trout-stocked lakes and ponds throughout the state will receive 30 to 50 broodstock, providing even more opportunities for anglers.
From April 8 to May 31, the minimum legal size required for taking trout is nine inches with a daily limit of six trout in most trout waters. Beginning June 1 through Dec. 31, 2023, the legal size remains nine inches, but the daily limit is reduced to four trout.
Following opening day, the state’s major trout streams are stocked every week and are closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of stocking to allow the trout a chance to disperse. All other waters are open to fishing without the time restriction on stocking days after opening day.
The 2023 stocking schedule and trout allocations, including updates and changes, can be found on the spring trout webpage. Anglers may download the complete in-season stocking schedule to their smartphones by scanning the QR code found on signs posted along trout-stocked waters or the QR code found in the 2023 NJ Freshwater Fishing Digest.
A list of trout-stocked waters and all freshwater fishing regulations, including size and catch limits, can also be found in the Fishing Digest. Printed copies of the digest are available at license agents and Fish & Wildlife offices. Another resource for information is the Trout Stocking Hotline at (609) 322-9524.
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, which offers an existing angler and new angler, or even two new anglers, an opportunity to receive reduced-priced fishing licenses.
The Pequest Trout Hatchery, celebrating 40 years of operation, 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, fishing equipment and the Sport Fish Restoration Program enables Fish & Wildlife to enhance fishing opportunities in New Jersey and protect the quality of the state’s waters for fish, wildlife and people.