According to New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, cooler temperatures and the approach of winter used to signal the end of trout fishing, but not in New Jersey. Trout fishing in Jersey is now a year-round reality.
The Winter Trout Stocked Lakes Program began in November, 2000. The program provides additional opportunities during the late fall and winter months by providing trout outside the regular spring and fall stocking seasons. The program is designed to ensure that at least one trout-stocked lake is within easy driving distance of anyone interested in trying their luck on a beautiful winter's day.
The Winter Trout Lakes Stocking Program extends trout fishing action through the winter months and early spring until spring stocking begins. In fact, spring anglers are in for a real battle when they hook into trout stocked in October and November, which are not caught in the fall and winter.
There’s plenty of time to chase fall and winter stocked trout before ponds and lakes freeze. Traditional baits like worms, fathead minnows, meal worms and powerbait fished on the bottom during open water work well for those fishing from shore.
Ice does not mean the end of trout fishing. A growing number of anglers look forward to the opportunity to catch large trout through the ice. Proven methods for catching trout through the ice are using tip-ups with powerbait or fathead minnows, and jigging with small jigs or ice jigging flies. Traditional baits like worms, fathead minnows, meal worms and powerbait fished on the bottom during open water work well for those fishing from shore. Anglers should check to make sure ice fishing is not prohibited at their intended ice fishing location(s).
Anglers should pick up a copy of the Freshwater Fishing Digest and familiarize themselves with the regulations pertaining to their chosen NJ fishing location. The Digest as well as other information about fishing in New Jersey is also available online at www.njfishandwildlife.com/fishing_fresh.htm. The 2019 Freshwater Digest should be available in late December.
Whatever winter (or fall) trout stocked water body you choose to fish, one thing is certain -- there will be trout waiting. Trout anglers no longer need to suffer withdrawal or the winter fishing blues thanks to New Jersey’s Trout Stocking Program developed by the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife with your input.
As for New Jersey streams, the closest to the Lehigh Valley is the Pequest River which, coincidentally, was stocked last week. A friend’s buddy fished there on the day after the stocking and because of wind and rain, didn’t do very well. But the Pequest usually yields hefty trout.
So, if you’re an avid trout angler, you may want to pick up a Jersey fishing license and see what that neighboring state has to offer.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.