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Spring Tradition Gets Underway With Opening dat of Trout Season on Saturday, April 6

New Jersey waterways will be freshly stocked with more than 180,000 rainbow trout, as well as larger broodstock, for anglers eagerly awaiting the beginning of spring trout season on Saturday, April 6. 

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, provides an excellent opportunity to spend quality time outdoors and enjoy some of the best recreational fishing in the country.

“The quality of New Jersey’s trout fishing is outstanding and there are opportunities for all anglers – whether beginner or expert – to enjoy some of the best fishing anywhere,” said NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Assistant Commissioner Dave Golden. “Excellent 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. “The Pequest Hatchery staff work extremely hard to ensure the trout stocked are of the highest quality for anglers. I encourage everyone to head out to their favorite trout stream, or maybe try a new location this year, and enjoy opening day with family and friends.”

Anyone age 16 or older must obtain a New Jersey fishing license and trout stamp to fish for trout. Anglers may purchase these on Fish & Wildlife’s website or through a license agent.

By the end of the spring stocking season, more than 570,000 Rainbow Trout will be stocked in waterbodies across the state, with most trout averaging 10½ inches in length and weighing about a half-pound each.

In addition, approximately 6,000 broodstock -- large, mature trout ranging in size from 14 inches to 26 inches and weighing up to seven pounds -- will be stocked this spring. These trophy-size fish will be stocked in waters across the state suitable for fish their size.

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 exciting opportunities for anglers.

From Saturday, April 6 to Friday, 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 Saturday, June 1 and continuing through winter 2025, the daily limit is reduced to four trout.

Following opening day, the state's 14 major trout streams will be stocked weekly and closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on stocking day to allow trout to disperse. All other waters are open to fishing without the time restriction on stocking days after opening day.

The 2024 stocking schedule and trout allocations, including updates and changes, is 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 2024 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 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.

Visit Fish & Wildlife’s fishing locations webpage or use the Freshwater Fishing Explorer app to find fishing spots and waters stocked with trout.

Pequest Trout Hatchery 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.

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