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2020 Spring Trout Fishing Information

Link to License Website
On Monday, March 23, most trout stocked waters closed to angling.

Lakes Hopatcong, Mountain, Prospertown, Shenandoah, Swartswood, and the section of Lawrence Brook (Davidsons Mill Rd.) as well as Trout Conservation Areas, and Catch & Release Areas are open to fishing during the pre-season closure (March 23-April 10), however, all trout caught must be immediately released.  Trophy and Holdover Trout Lakes are open to fishing year round with special regulations on trout.
All anglers are reminded to not congregate in parking lots or on shorelines, and should maintain proper social distancing behaviors.

See the Updates section for changes in this year's stocking program.
Please refer to the Freshwater Digest for additional regulations and delineated sections of special regulation areas.
Subscribe to the Freshwater Fishing E-mail List to receive season updates and information.

Trout Season Opens Saturday, April 11 at 8:00 a.m.

2020 Weekly Stocking Schedules
2020 Trout Allocations by Water and Day Stocked
2020 Bonus Broodstock Program
Fishing Access to Trout Stocked Waters by County
Fishing Access to Trout Stocked Waters by Name
2020 Trout Regulations
(pdf, 295kb)

Report American Shad in the Paulins Kill and Musconetcong Rivers
Outdoors with Andre: Raising and stocking a half million trout ( video)


Each spring, approximately 570,000 rainbow trout raised at the Pequest Trout Hatchery are stocked into the state's streams, ponds, and lakes. Nearly 1/3 of these trout, 184,100, await anglers on April 11 when the season opens. The majority of trout being stocked will average 10˝ inches but large breeders, measuring 14 - 23" and weighing up to 7 pounds are also distributed in the early weeks of the season.

The state's fourteen major trout streams are stocked every week following Opening Day and are closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of stocking to allow the trout a chance to disperse. All other waters are open to fishing on stocking days, following opening day, with most stocked at least three times. Since every county has waters that are stocked with trout, trout fishing opportunities are never too far away.

Angler with large rainbow trout
Giant breeders are among the Rainbow Trout stocked each spring, including in Bonus Broodstock Lakes.
Click to enlarge

There were some significant changes in trout regulations in 2018 which anglers should remain aware of, including those for wild trout. These changes included:

  • Catch and Release Only for Brook Trout Within the Brook Trout Conservation Zone
    Brook Trout caught within the Brook Trout Conservation Zone (delineated by I-287 to the east, Route 202 to the south, the New York state border and up to — but not including — the Delaware River), must be released immediately, unharmed.
  • New Wild Trout Stream and Trout-Stocked Streams—Wild Brown Trout Managed Categories, and Other WTS Changes


Jaw tagged trout Ten Bonus Broodstock Lakes and the breeder stocking programs provide plenty of trophy size fish within a short drive from anywhere in the state. The Bonus Broodstock Lakes generally receive 30 - 50 extra large trout.

The Hook-a-Winner rewards anglers who catch one of the 1000 jaw-tagged trout stocked during the pre-season. Anglers who catch a tagged trout can claim their a certificate and patch by submitting an application form.

QR Codes on trout stocking regulations signs bring up the entire spring stocking schedule with all seven weeks of stocking following Opening Day on April 11. The schedule includes day of the week and the number of trout stocked. This feature can guide anglers to other fishing opportunities throughout the state right from their favorite fishing spot.

The Buddy License offers a current and a new angler (or two new anglers) reduced price fishing licenses!

Happy young angler
Click to enlarge
Share opening day with a youngster.
Brown and Brook Trout are still available, and regulations are in place to keep it that way (see page 22 in the 2020 Freshwater Fishing Digest). Waterbodies such as the South Branch Raritan River, Pequannock River and Big Flat Brook, (to name a few) have naturally reproducing trout in them that will surprise and delight many lucky anglers with their beautiful markings and coloration.

Anglers should be aware that most trout-stocked waters are closed to fishing during the 3 weeks leading up to Opening Day (March 23 - April 11, 2020 at 8 a.m.). There are several waters that remain open for catch-and-release trout fishing: Lake Hopatcong (Morris/Sussex), Mountain Lake (Warren), Prospertown Lake (Ocean), Lake Shenandoah (Ocean), Swartswood Lake (Sussex), and the section of Lawrence Brook from Davidsons Mill Rd. to Farrington Lake dam are open year round to fishing.

Catch and Release Only, Seasonal, and Year-Round Trout Conservation Areas and designated Holdover Trout Lakes are also open to fishing. However, trout caught in any of these waters during this period must be released immediately. Note that, fishing is not permitted on Seasonal Trout Conservation Areas from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. on April 11, 2020. Trout can be harvested from the state's two Trophy Trout Lakes, Merrill Creek and Round Valley Reservoirs. Be sure to check the Freshwater Digest for regulations pertaining to these waters.

Don't forget that a fishing license and trout stamp are required to fish for trout if you are 16 years or older. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older can fish without a license. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through one of the many license agents statewide, or online.


3/31/20 - Birch Grove Park Pond and Dahnerts Lake are closed to fishing.

3/30/20 - Mountain Lake and Branch Brook Park Lake will not be stocked due to continuing HAB events. Merrill Creek Reservoir and Laurel Pond are presently closed to the public.

3/20/20 - Today's Peseason Stockings - The following waters will be stocked by the end of today: Hohokus Brook,Lockatong Creek, D&R Feeder Canal (Lower), Neshanic River, Nishisakawick Creek, Paulins Kill (Lower), Pequannock River, Pequannock River TCA, Ramapo River, Raritan River N/B, Wanaque River (Lower), and Wichecheoke Creek.

3/19/20 - Today's Preseason Stockings - The following waters will be stocked by the end of today: Raritan River S/B, Round Valley Reservoir, and Lower Paulins Kill.

3/18/20 - Today's Preseason Stockings - The following waters will be stocked by the end of today: Lower Pohatcong Creek, Manasquan River, Mingamahone Brook, Musconetcong River, Hakihohake Creek, and Paulins Kill.

3/17/20 - Preseason Stockings - The Pequest River TCA (Warren Co.) was stocked yesterday; The following waters will be stocked by the end of today: Merrill Creek Reservoir (Warren Co.), Pequest River (Upper/Middle/Lower) (Morris, Sussex & Warren Co.) and Raritan River TCA (Hunterdon Co.).

3/6/20 - Musconetcong River (Morris/Sussex Co.) - Trout will not be stocked in the Muscanetcong River at Waterloo Road due to a bridge replacement project.

3/2/20 - Hooks Creek Lake (Middlesex Co.) - Due to the fluctuating salinity levels, Hook's Creek Lake has been re-suspended from the Trout Stocking Program until salinity levels become more stable. The issue began with high salinity from storms that affected the region in October, 2012, including Hurricane Sandy. The lake was been suspended from the Division's Trout Stocking Program from 2012 until the fall of 2015 when salinity levels dropped to levels safe for stocking. However, since 2016, salinity levels have not remained safe for stocking - in some cases, fluctuating salinity levels have resulted in fish kills. Biologists will continue to monitor the situation.

3/2/20 - West Hudson County Park Pond (Hudson Co.) - Recognizing increased popularity with anglers, stocking of West Hudson County Park Pond was added to the full trout allocation program and will be receiving stocked trout in Weeks 1-4 as well as a pre-season stocking. These additional four weeks of stocking will result in 1,040 more fish for the pond in 2020.

Any deviations from the stocking schedule will be noted here, on the 2020 Spring Stocking Schedules page and on the Trout Hotline (609-633-6765).

Back to Trout Fishing in New Jersey

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Last Updated: March 31, 2020