By Karen Zautyk
The trout-fishing season starts in New Jersey this Saturday, April 6, at 8 a.m., and local anglers do not have to travel very far to seek a prize catch.
The pond in West Hudson Park covers a mere 4 acres, but by Saturday it will have been stocked with 340 trout, most of average size: about 10.5 inches and a half-pound each.
However, lucky fisherfolk could land what the N.J. Division of Fish & Wildlife terms a “lifetime trout.”
Of the 340 fishies, 30 are large “broodstock” trout — weighing 3 to 7 pounds each and ranging from 15 to 24 inches.
West Hudson’s pond is one of only 10 sites in the state to be selected for the broodstock for the 2013 season.
“By concentrating . . .these large trout in 10 relatively small lakes and ponds, it is expected that angler participation and satisfaction will increase as anglers catch these trout themselves or observe others catching them,” the division’s website notes.
“Imagine going to a small pond or lake and latching onto one of these lunkers.”
(We do not fish, but we presume “lunker” is a good thing.)
In 2012, West Hudson Park had received only five broodstock trout, so odds of catching one are far better this year.
Every spring, over a span of several weeks, Fish & Wildlife workers travel the length and breadth of the state, depositing more than 570,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout in approximately 200 bodies of water, not only lakes and ponds but also streams and rivers.
All the fish come from the the division’s Pequest Hatchery in Warren County.
The Hackensack River will have been stocked with 690 trout by Opening Day, and a total of 1,810 by the end of May. The Passaic River will have 2,700 by Saturday, and an eventual total of 7,020. (No broodstock in the rivers, though.)
Your correspondent was surprised to see the Passaic on the stocking list, but then we remembered that the river is more than the sum of its polluted parts (the section that flows through Observer towns.)
The Passaic is 80 miles long and wends its way through pristine hills and lowlands of rural and suburban Jersey before it reaches this
area. We surmise (and hope) that the river trout will be caught primarily in the unpolluted areas.
If any make it down this far and are caught in these waters (people do fish the river here; why we cannot fathom), they should NOT be consumed.
In any case, the trout likely will have developed feet and glowing fins if they’ve spent any time in the Lower Passaic.
Perhaps one could use them as nightlights.
Please note that, to legally fish for trout, even in a park pond, a valid N.J. fishing license and trout stamp are required for N.J. residents aged 16 through 69 and for all nonresidents aged 16 and older.
For a full list of regulations, info on the trout-stocked waters and all things fish, visit www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/