It will be a double shot Opening Day throughout the Garden State for trout, similar to last year, as avoidance of spreading the corona virus continues to impact outdoor scenes, especially that associated with the oft-times shoulder-to-shoulder scenario of the opening of Garden State’s most popular, participation-wise, freshwater fishing season.

Southern tier county waters that are stocked are numerous, and the loads of rainbow trout (brown trout and brook trout have not been stocked since 2014, despite an erroneous image in another Cat Country 107.3 post), from the standard 10.5-11 inch average to spent breeder ‘bows from 17- to 24-plus inches and weighing up to six-pounds.

The latter big fish bonus constitutes 2% of the overall seasonal stocking payload, and, as in 2020, the entire preseason and in-season allocation have been stocked for tomorrow’s opener.

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The exception for south Jersey is the Toms River in Ocean County, which will be stocked again during the week of May 10-14, with 1,130 ‘bows being loosed, and another 450 stocked in the Trout Conservation Area running from the bottom of Riverwood Park to the Route 571 overpass.

Tomorrow’s opening starts at 8am and is catch-and-release only. For anyone using bait, opt for a circle hook, such as the Owner Mutu Light Circle in sizes 8-10, as this metal, and others by Gamakatsu and Eagle Claw, will result in a huge percentage of trout being caught in the jaw, making for exponentially easier unhooking and releasing. If utilizing spinners, Trout Magnets, small spoons or plugs, by all means pinch the hook barbs, as this will facilitate easy removal and release. By all means make sure your hands are wet so as to minimize the effect to the trout’s protective slime layer.

Starting April 10, again at 8am, it’s a catch-and-keep dealio when it comes to bring some trout home for the frying pan or grill. The daily limit will be six, and, after Memorial Day, it drops to four. With the exception of the Toms River, trout succumb once water temps surpass 78-degrees. As such, it makes sense to keep what you catch and enjoy a fresh fish dinner.

Numbers of rainbows released in the more popular southern New Jersey swims include the following.

Atlantic County: Birch Grove Park (first two ponds)- 1,310; Heritage Park Pond- 1,430; Hammonton Lake- 1,900.

Cumberland County: Cohansey River- 1060; Maurice River- 2,150; South Vineland Park Pond- 1,590; Mary Elmer Lake- 1.740.

Cape May County: Ponderlodge Pond-  1,990; Tuckahoe Lake- 2,270.

Camden County: Oak Pond- 1,440; Haddon Lake- 520

Gloucester County: Greenwich Lake- 1,580; Grenloch Lake- 1,310; Iona Lake- 1,440; Swedesboro Lake- 1,780.

Ocean County: Pohatcong Lake- 2,550; Lake Shenandoah- 1,820.

Salem County: Harrisonville Lake- 1,540; Schadler’s Sand Wash Pond- 1,330.

The full roster of waters stocked, is available at www.njfishandwildlife.com and also in pages 18-19 in the 2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest.

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