The autumn season keeps on giving!

The statewide archery deer season opens Saturday, rabbit and squirrel seasons are underway, the largemouth bass and pickerel are biting, the stripers are getting more active by the day, sheepshead, triggerfish, and blackfish (tog) have the feedbags on, and kingfish, spot and croakers, and small bluefish are still on the chow in the surf.


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But it keeps coming. This past week the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries’ Hackettstown Hatchery trucks were rolling, delivering final loads of feisty and delicious channel catfish to select lakes and ponds statewide. The stocking actually began in mid-August and is a testament to the number of swims that are hit. These kitties ranged from 12 inches (the minimum possession length) to a robust 18 inches and weighing up to 2.5 pounds. Wednesday and Thursday eight South Jersey waters received loads of 16-18 inch cats, and there’s no doubt they’ll be on the chow prowl by this weekend.

Craig Lemon
Craig Lemon

Says Hackettstown Hatchery superintendent Craig Lemon, “Channel catfish can live in a variety of habitats, can grow to heavyweight sizes, are relatively easy to catch, and are good eating. We raise and stock thousands every year across New Jersey, and the program is popular with anglers of all ages.”

You can hear Craig discuss the stocking during Saturday’s Rack & Fin Radio, 7-8 am on 97.3 ESPN FM.

While the kitties are aggressive and will strike plugs and jigs, bait is the quickest and most surefire way to put a five-fish limit on the stringer or in the bucket. Effective offerings are chicken livers, pieces of hot dogs, partially cooked bacon, nightcrawlers, and the Berkley PowerBait and Gulp! Catfish chunks. Being the predators that they are, they’ll also whack a minnie (killie) or shiner under a float.

Craig Lemon
Craig Lemon

The waters and numbers are as follows.

Giampietro Park Pond (Cumberland County; 40), Greenwich and Grenloch lakes (Gloucester County; 80 and 50), Oak Pond (Camden County; 50), Ponderlodge Pond (Cape May County; 110), Sylvan Lake (Burlington County; 50); Heritage Park Pond and Birch Grove Park Ponds (Atlantic; 80 and 110; in Birch Grove Park it’s the first two ponds that are stocked).

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Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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