New Jersey amends its stocking/season schedule for Spring 2021

frickerdog

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I am a bit disappointed that NJ is revising its stocking schedule for 2021. The revisions were announced yesterday. Here is what we are looking at:

1. All stocked locations closed for fishing from March 15 to March 30
2. 500,000 fish from the hatchery will be stocked during that time across the state.
3. There will be no in-season stocking like prior years
4. There will be no in-season closures
4. April 1-10 will be catch and release at all stocked locations
5. April 10 will be "Opening Day" with a 6-fish creel limit going through May.
6. There will be a supplemental 70,000 fish stock in May.
7. Broodstock are being stocked into rivers and streams instead of holdover lakes.

This seems to be the reverse of what one would want from a COVID perspective, particularly with #3 and 4. New Jersey's prior plan was to stock in-season, with some locations getting a stocking 4 or 5 times over an 8-week period. That tended to spread out the fishing. Now, they will throw a pile of fish in and just let folks pull them out. And trout seekers will be eager to get out early and clean out the streams. Crappy plan in my view. They claim that the no in-season stocking is entirely driven by COVID. I am not buying that one.

It looks like I'll be investing in my NY out-of-state license sooner than expected.
 

dipaoro

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Looks like PTO time for April 2nd to me in NJ!

Winston Green + Cigar of choice + new tunes ready to go!

Already have my out of state PA license which is my location of choice all season long.
 

frickerdog

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Record high temps are possible (65 degrees) the next 2 days here, and the stocked streams close starting Monday, so the next few days are very tempting to get out on the water. I have been fishing the conservation areas anyhow, and they will remain open through the stock closure since the conservation areas do not directly receive stocked fish. Looking at water temperature charts on some of the state's fisheries, it appears that we have been getting over the 40-degree mark, which could increase the aggression level of our trout. I wish I could take both days off from work, but alas, somebody has to pay the bills. So, Friday looks like the day.
 

KenBrown

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I have not seen the PA stocking schedules for this year but I know last year they were greatly downgraded. Ill have to take a peek and see if they will be doing in-season stockings in my area.
 

mtman

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Working on a roof a stones throw from the Musky in Hackettstown today, very happy to see a good amount of little black stones around. I will be off next week and hoping to hit a stream or two.
 

frickerdog

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Working on a roof a stones throw from the Musky in Hackettstown today, very happy to see a good amount of little black stones around. I will be off next week and hoping to hit a stream or two.
Thanks for the intel on the little black stones!
 

frickerdog

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Water levels are higher than I anticipated. All the snow has melted, so my guess is that this is actually ground thaw that is increasing the water levels at this point. I'm still gonna go, but keeping expectations pretty low as to what locations I will actually be able to fish.
 

frickerdog

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Got my first fish on a dry for 2021 on Sunday. I had no luck with 2 hours of nymphs and with the afternoon sun, I noticed a few stoneflies in the area, so I gave it a shot with one of @hairwing530's black stoneflies. Third cast was the winner. Aggressive rainbow in shallow, 44-degree water. I wore the fish out pretty good, so I opted not to take a photo. I looked up to see a massive bald eagle in the tree canopy, so I'm kind of glad that I did not spend a lot of time admiring my fish. Also, that was my signal that life was good, and I should go home.

Also, the area I fished was a Trout Conservation Area -- not stocked -- so fishing was permitted. All NJ stocked streams are currently closed until April 1.
 

frickerdog

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It’s amazing the difference a week can make in a fishery. Water was almost 10 degrees warmer today and there were trout everywhere. I caught 6 and saw at least 10 caught by others and probably saw a dozen more swimming around. One of mine was a beautiful brook trout. The area is not stocked and all catch and release. Fantastic day.
 

KenBrown

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This past Saturday would have been awesome to go out. Unfortunately, I dont have any C&R close to me to get out there. Opening Day is April 3rd so Ill probably be out there sometime in the afternoon. Hopefully the bulk of the people are done by the time I go.
 

frickerdog

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I'm somewhat depressed that the stringer crowd will have access to my local waters starting this Saturday. I know that some of our rivers cannot support a trout population year round, but I really wish NJ would extend C&R only to the end of April in the northern half of the State where the water stays cold until late May or June.

My local river was teeming with trout this morning. It was really fun to see.
 

frickerdog

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So, I ended up going out on the afternoon of opening day since it was beautiful and the stringer-and-plastic-bag crowd would fade a bit as the day wore on. There is so much to talk about how that crowd disrespects the water, but it turns out that it was fun to be a fly fisherman who knows the water. I arrived around noon and saw about 30 people fishing, but the bulk of them were focused on a 4-6 feet depth pool which sits below a small area of rapids. Some were also fishing above the rapids. It was a warmish day, so I figured that the fish might be turning to shallower water to feed, and decided to go slightly upstream (about 200 yards) from where the bulk of the mooks were fishing. I settled on an area that I knew to have provided decent fishing in the past...it runs at about 2 feet of depth at prime water levels and is reasonably fast.

Based upon successes earlier in the week, I chose a gold hares ear since I did not see many fish rising. In the 2 hours that followed, I netted and released 23 trout on one fly, all roughly 12-14 inches (God knows how many trout were stocked here). I used a few different techniques to mix it up, but it was one fly without any indicator (never used one and don't plan on starting). I started to catch fish almost immediately, some of the mooks tried to move closer to my territory, but, for whatever reason, the trout were not hitting on live bait or spinners. So, basically, I got to show off, and it was a lot of fun. There was another fly fisherman who came in about 50 yards upstream, and I told him GHE was working, and he caught about a dozen fish too. He and I made intros on the water and shared a few laughs, particularly when I took a big fall into the river.

I got a good laugh at the end of the day. A younger dad and his son (maybe 10) who had moved toward me in the water approached me near the cars and the kid asked why I didn't keep any of my fish. I explained the concept of catch-and-release to him, and he sold out his dad. He said, "Yeah, my dad brings home fish and my mom makes him throw them out because she hates the smell." The dad gave me a sheepish look and said to his boy, "I guess it's a good thing we didn't catch any today....didn't need to make that decision."
 
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