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Information and Background Regarding the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Recent Trout Stocking Proposals

April 4, 2005

Many people have been asking about the recent proposed changes (January 2005) (pdf, 140kb) to the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Trout Program. The following information should be helpful in explaining the proposals, and aid in answering the most frequently asked questions.

The intent of the proposed changes to the Division of Fish and Wildlife's (DFW) Trout Program resulted from an effort to increase or stabilize trout stamp sales, and to assure the best use of the Division's resources. Since the proposal involved significant changes to the DFW's current trout program, the NJ Fish and Game Council released the potential changes to the angling public for comment prior to taking any official action.

On behalf of the Council, the Division accepted public comment through February 28, 2005 and received more than 1300 pieces of correspondence in the form of postcards, emails, and phone calls. The majority of the correspondence focused on the potential for discontinuing trout stocking at Lake Hopatcong. Review of the comments provided by anglers demonstrated that there is still considerable interest in fishing for trout in Lake Hopatcong, so the Council voted at its March meeting to continue to support the long standing tradition of trout fishing at the lake.

In accordance with the DFW's further recommendations, the Council also decided that beginning in 2006 Lake Hopatcong would be stocked as a seasonal rather than a holdover fishery. This is not to be confused with the Department of Environmental Protection's classification for the lake under its official Surface Water Quality Standards, which are not affected by the Council's change. The Council's determination, however, will result in a reduction in the overall spring trout allocation (approximately 8,490 trout instead of 10,400), but there are several distinct advantages to this change. In 2006, the lake will receive approximately 130 -170 broodstock trout measuring 14 - 20 inches, which it currently does not receive. As a result of another recent change to the Division's trout stocking program, the lake will also be stocked earlier during the in-season stocking period. Currently, fish are distributed the 2nd, 4th, and 6th week following opening day. Beginning next year the lake will be stocked during in-season weeks 1, 2, and 3, which should further benefit anglers as well as the local businesses surrounding the lake.

An additional advantage to the 2006 stocking strategy for Lake Hopatcong is that the DFW will increase the stockings of brown trout. This change is in response to the tagging study that demonstrated anglers were more successful in catching brown trout. The pre-season stocking will consist of brook trout, followed by one in-season stocking of rainbows and the last two in-season stockings will consist of all brown trout. These cumulative changes are anticipated to provide an enhanced fishery for trout.

The decision to stock Lake Hopatcong as a seasonal fishery is not reflective of the water quality within the lake but of the warm summer lake temperature's which exceed the 21C criteria established by the Division of Fish and Wildlife for its trout program. The Lake Hopatcong Commission, local municipalities, businesses and fishing organizations continue to work towards improving water quality within the lake.

The Council also voted to officially propose discontinuing trout stocking at Spruce Run Reservoir (Hunterdon), Cranberry Lake (Sussex), Manasquan Reservoir (Monmouth), Pompton Lake (Passaic), Canistear Reservoir (Sussex) and Mountain Lake (Warren) which will be reflected in the amendments for the 2006 Fish Code. In addition, the Council also voted to propose discontinuing trout stocking on four of six streams originally proposed; Biers Kill (Sussex), Roy Spring Brook (Sussex), Shimers Brook (Sussex), and Tuttles Corner Brook (Sussex).

In conjunction with these changes, the Council proposed the addition of seven new waterbodies to the stocking program. These include Heritage Pond (Absecon), Dahnert's Lake (Garfield), Pemberton Lake (Pemberton), Gloucester City Pond (Gloucester), Echo Lake (Southard), Hamilton Fire Pond (Neptune), and Potash Lake (Oakland).

Other facets of the trout proposal which the Council also voted on was the stocking of fewer but larger trout for the fall and winter trout stocking programs, beginning in 2006.

As stated previously, the addition or deletion of a waterway from the state's trout stocking program requires an amendment to the regulations that make up the Fish Code through an official rulemaking process. This process requires an additional sixty-day public comment period that will begin sometime around the end of July, and a public hearing, typically held in September.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: April 4, 2005