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Landlocked Salmon in New Jersey

Large Salmon Stocked in Tilcon Lake, Morris County - 4/22/14
Salmon Update: Another 2000 landlocked salmon arrived at the Hackettstown Hatchery on May 5, 2014 from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Roger Reed Salmon Hatchery. The fish measured just under 8 inches; about 1500 salmon will be held at Hackettstown until late November and then stocked at around 14 inches in Wawayanda Lake, Lake Aeroflex and Tilcon Lake in Allamuchy Mountain State Park. The remaining 500 will be held over the winter and then stocked at about 18-20 inches in length.

In May, 2013, Hackettstown Hatchery staff had float stocked 720 salmon in Wawayanda Lake and 280 in Lake Aeroflex; the fish averaged 8.5 inches in length. Eight-hundred (800) of the 1,000 salmon remaining at the hatchery were stocked in late November at an average length of 14 inches. Another 200 remained until April 17, 2013 when they were released, at an average length of 18 inches, into Tilcon Lake - see link above for details.

2014 is the ninth year of stocking landlocked salmon in New Jersey. Anglers are urged to report catches of these fish by e-mailing the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries at: njfwfish@earthlink.net. Please attach photos of your catch.

Landlocked Salmon in New Jersey Brochure (pdf, 75kb)
Focus on Fishing: Lake Trout and Salmon (pdf, 96kb)
Salmon and Trout - Know the Difference (pdf, 640kb)
2014 Holdover Trout Lakes (Salmon-Trout) Regulations (pdf, 110kb)

An exciting, new sport fish is now swimming in New Jersey’s waters - the hard-fighting landlocked salmon! This salmonid species is the lake-dwelling form of the Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Unlike the anadromous Atlantic salmon, which migrates from saltwater to spawn in freshwater streams, the landlocked form is able to complete its entire life cycle in freshwater. Landlocked salmon are native to eastern Canada and Maine, and have been successfully introduced to suitable waters outside their native range in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. And now New Jersey!

On May 17, 2006, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife introduced landlocked salmon into two lakes to provide anglers with an opportunity to fish for this unique coldwater sport fish close to home. Only a handful of deep lakes in New Jersey have suitable year round habitat for coldwater fish like trout and salmon. Salmon prefer water temperatures less than 70°F and dissolved oxygen levels greater than 5 mg/L, but can withstand warmer, less oxygenated water conditions for short periods. Salmon were stocked in several NJ waters a half-century ago, and the historical state record for landlocked salmon is an 8 pound fish caught from Lake Aeroflex in 1951.

The two lakes selected to receive landlocked salmon are Wawayanda Lake and Lake Aeroflex. Wawayanda Lake is located in Wawayanda State Park in northern Sussex County near Vernon. It has a surface area of 255 acres and a maximum depth of 80 feet. Lake Aeroflex (also known as New Wawayanda Lake) lies in southern Sussex County, within Kittatinny Valley State Park near Andover, and has a surface area of 100 acres and a maximum depth of 101 feet. Both lakes have suitable coldwater fish habitat year round and a forage base of alewives for the salmon to feed upon.

Tilcon Lake Salmon
Tilcon Lake Stocking Yields Immediate Results
Click to enlarge
The salmon that are stocked are surplus fish provided by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife free of charge. These fish are spring yearlings, the product of eggs taken from mature females and then fertilized. When stocked in May they are at an age of approximately 1˝ years. A truck from our fish hatchery transports the salmon from Massachusetts and immediately stocked them in each lake. Annually approximately 1,000 fish are stocked in Wawayanda Lake and Lake Aeroflex receives 400-500 fish. Approximately 1,020 fish were stocked in Wawayanda Lake and Lake Aeroflex receivee 404 fish the first year. To help minimize loss through predation, the salmon are float stocked away from the shoreline.

Initially the newly stocked salmon will feed upon macroinvertebrates and insects. Towards the end of the summer they will shift to a diet of alewives. Anglers are allowed to keep two salmon per day measuring at least 12 inches long during most of the year (catch & release fishing in effect during the 19 day period preceding the opening day of the trout season in April). The stocking rate and harvest regulations are intended to provide anglers with an opportunity to catch salmon that commonly range from 12" – 17", and an expectation of catching an occasional salmon in excess of 17" (3 pounds).
Salmon at Waywayanda Lake
Salmon caught June 28, 2009 at Lake Waywayanda
Click to enlarge
Both lakes selected for the introduction of salmon are currently stocked with brown and rainbow trout and are managed to provide good trout fisheries through the Holdover Trout Lakes regulation. (Trout that survive the critical summer period are referred to as "holdovers.") Salmon and trout are competitors in that both are pelagic (occupying primarily open water, away from shallow water areas) and will utilize the alewife forage base.

Landlocked salmon are closely related to brown trout (Salmo trutta), and anglers may have difficulty telling them apart. Because size and creel limits are different for salmon and trout, anglers need to know the differences in order to comply with the regulations and quickly release fish that can not be kept. The most obvious differences between salmon and brown trout can be found in the head and tail areas. The caudal fin (tail) of a salmon is forked and a brown trout’s tail is square (unforked). The upper jaw (maxillary) of a salmon does not extend beyond the rear edge of the eye while a brown trout’s maxillary generally extends well past the rear edge. A salmon may also (but not always) have "X" shaped markings along its back. Posters detailing these characteristics will be prominently displayed at each lake and handouts with this information will also be available.

The landlocked salmon populations will be maintained through annual stockings of spring yearlings. While mature salmon may migrate into the inlets and outlets and attempt to spawn it is unlikely that natural reproduction will produce enough fish to maintain an acceptable fisheries. The salmon fisheries will be monitored by Fish and Wildlife and if warranted stocking rates and fishing regulations for salmonids will be adjusted to maintain a desirable fishery.
Both state parks have boat launching facilities (ramps) and ample parking. Only electric motors are permitted (no gas outboards). Boat rentals are also available seasonally at Wawayanda Lake. A park entrance fee is charged at Wawayanda Lake (located in Wawayanda State Park) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and the facilities are open from dawn to dusk. There is no fee to launch boats at Lake Aeroflex and boat fishing is permitted 24 hours a day.

Links to the park websites are below, and office phone numbers are as follows:
Wawayanda State Park: 973-853-4462
Kittatinny Valley State Park: 973-786-6445.

Additional Salmon Stocked in Two Sussex County Lakes - 12/5/13
Landlocked Salmon Arrive in New Jersey 5/17/06 DEP News Release

 

Trout Fishing in New Jersey

Angler with salmon
August, 2011 catch
Click to enlarge

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Last Updated: June 3, 2014