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Winter Trout-Stocked Lakes Program
By Bob Papson
Principal Fisheries Biologist
November, 2000

The April "opening day of trout season" is awaited with great anticipation every year, and New Jersey's trout waters are filled with anglers as well as the trout the division stocks during the spring. However, fall and winter fishing have become much more popular, especially where good numbers of fish are available. This interest in "off-season" fishing is apparent in the enthusiastic response to our fall trout stocking program as well as in the winter stocking programs conducted in Pennsylvania and other neighboring states.

This year (fall 2000) the division will add variety to our trout stocking program and increase angling opportunities during late fall and winter by initiating the Winter Trout-Stocked Lakes Program. During winter, anglers fishing through the ice may benefit the most, but they are by no means the only ones who will benefit - the likely presence of ice on any water and the allowance of ice fishing were not criteria in determining which lakes would be stocked. Jaw-tagging a trout In recent years, safe ice formation has been sporadic, especially in south Jersey, so open water winter fishing has been the norm. These winter stocked trout will readily strike in open water at low temperatures, so anyone fishing from shore or boat should see their fishing action increase.

A total of 12,940 rainbow trout, averaging 11 inches in length, were raised at the division's Pequest Trout Hatchery specifically for this program. They will be distributed in twenty-four lakes throughout the state. This will ensure that at least one lake will be within easy driving distance of anyone interested in trying their luck on a beautiful winter's day. Lakes in the program range from 5 to 100 acres and should provide excellent fishing. North Jersey lakes will be stocked the last week of November and south Jersey lakes during the first week of January. Tag return station Interstate Highway 195 is the dividing line between north and south Jersey lakes, except for Topenemus Lake which will be stocked with the south Jersey waters.

In addition to on-site angler counts, a tagging study will be conducted to evaluate the success of the winter stocking program. Trout stocked in 8 of the waters - see lakes marked with an asterisk (*) in the list below - will be tagged with metal jaw tags. Tag receptacles will be set up at each of these lakes. The tags of harvested trout should be placed in the tag receptacle or mailed to the Lebanon Fisheries Lab in the envelopes provided. Angler cooperation in returning these tags is very important to the evaluation of this program.

So how does one go about catching trout during the colder months? Whether through the ice or in open water, fishing in shallow or deep water can be very productive for trout. Through the ice, tip-ups fished with fathead minnows or scented artificial bait (such as powerbait) are very effective when the bait is placed near the lake bottom. Jigging through the ice just off the lake bottom with a silver spoon (such as Kastmaster or Swedish Pimple) also works well.

If fishing open water from the shore, bait is usually more productive than lures. A variety of baits can be used (baby nightcrawlers, meal worms, fatheads, powerbait, mini-marshmallows, etc.) and they work best if fished on the lake bottom. If using lures from shore or boat (spoons, spinners, etc.), they should be fished slowly since fish tend to react more slowly in colder temperatures.

Anglers should take advantage of the division's new Winter Trout-Stocked Lakes Program. Less crowded waters and increased fishing action will be the reward. And for many Garden State anglers, the traditional holiday baked ham or turkey just might be replaced by fresh baked rainbow trout!

Winter Trout-Stocked Lakes

North Jersey Lakes Stocked November 27 - December 1, 2000

Bergen County
Mill Pond - 400 trout

Essex County
* Verona Park Pond - 500 trout

Hudson County
Woodcliff Lake - 510 trout

Hunterdon County
* Amwell Lake - 410 trout

Middlesex County
Hook's Creek Lake - 520 trout

Morris County
Mt. Hope Pond - 410 trout
Speedwell Lake - 520 trout

Passaic County
Barbours Pond - 420 trout
* Shepherd Lake - 1,000 trout

Union County
Lower Echo Lake - 420 trout

Warren County
* Furnace Lake - 900 trout

Sussex County
Lake Aeroflex - 1,000 trout
* Lake Ocquittunk - 500 trout
Little Swartswood - 1,000 trout
Silver Lake - 600 trout

South Jersey Lakes Stocked January 2 - 5, 2001

Atlantic County
* Birch Grove Park Pond - 460 trout

Burlington County
Laurel Pond - 250 trout

Camden County
* Rowands Pond - 250 trout

Cumberland County
Shaws Mill Pond - 510 trout

Gloucester County
Mullica Hill Pond - 410 trout

Monmouth County
Spring Lake - 480 trout
* Topenemus Lake - 470 trout

Ocean County
Lake Shenandoah - 580 trout

Salem County
Riverview Beach Pond - 420 trout

* - Indicates presence of a Tag Reporting Station. Please help us evaluate this new trout stocking program. Remove tags only from trout that are kept. For each tag complete an envelope (available at reporting station), put tag in the envelope and place in the lock box. The tag may also be mailed to NJDFW, P.O. Box 394, Lebanon, NJ 08833. If mailing, please flatten the tag and provide the following information: waterbody, tag number, date caught, fish length, and whether caught from shore, boat, or through the ice.