The “winter stocking” of rainbow trout started yesterday and will conclude today when a number of southern ponds and lakes are dosed with two-year-old rainbows.

Overall, 4460 rainbows will be liberated in 18 waterways in 11 counties ranging from Sussex County to Cape May County.

Started in 2006, this wildly popular program was tweaked a few times dates and numbers-wise, and also included a shuffling of the waters on the roster. It was decided that Thanksgiving Week was the best time to provide late-season trout fishing opportunities, as it leads to a holiday weekend when families in particular can enjoy the rod-bending bounty.

Another significant change was in the totals and sizes of the fish being liberated. Credit with NJ Fish and Wildlife’s bureau of freshwater fisheries for listening to and acting upon the input of its trout stamp-buying constituents. The numbers were more than halved as it was decided to go with two-year-old ‘bows measuring 14-16 inches and weighing an average of 1.5 lbs. instead of the 10-inch standard stockie.

TSM, Tom P.
TSM, Tom P.

Slim Jims to salamis, if you will.

The last-of-the-year stocking is limited to lakes and ponds only. This makes it much easier for youngsters and novices to fish as opposed to moving waters, and a bonus is that in venues where it’s legal (check with respective municipal and/or county offices), the trout will last through the winter months and provide prime ice fishing opportunities should safe ice form.

These robust ‘bows are aggressive and will prove eager feeders once let loose. While fair numbers are always caught the first day they are stocked, we’ve found over the decades that the second or even third day is when they really turn on after becoming acclimated to their new surroundings and varying water conditions.

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PowerBait dough and nuggets in its myriad flavors and colors, salmon eggs, Trout Magnets, small spinners and spoons, mealworms, garden worms, kernel corn and the “M&M” (mealworm and mini marshmallow combo) will all put fish on the stringer.

The daily limit is four and you can cast a line even as the trout are being stocked.

A 2022 freshwater fishing license and trout stamp must be in possession.

Today in South Jersey, the following waters will be dosed, the number in parenthesis.

Haddon Lake (210), Rowands Pond (100), Shaws Mill Pond (210), South Vineland Park Pond (190), Birch Grove Park Ponds (the first two; 190), and Ponderlodge Pond (160).

The full list of the statewide18 venues/counties and the respective numbers of trout released within can be found on the trout fishing link at

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