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Special Division signs for trout waters NOT being stocked this Spring

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Just wanted to show everyone the new signs going up on trout production streams or lakes and ponds that drain into them that the Division will not be stocking this spring.  These are intended to 1) let anglers know that these spots were not stocked and 2) to ask them to consider catching and releasing all trout they do catch as many (most, in some cases) will be wild fish and cannot withstand the pressure of a 6 fish limit while maintaining the resource.  Here's one for the South Branch Raritan I will be putting up later today from the Ken Lockwood Gorge no-kill stretch up to Budd Lake, that river's headwaters.   



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I applaud the Division for doing the best with a bad situation.  I think their long term plan will be best for both stocked trout and our wild trout in a few short years.  This is a lot different than the Halloween snow storm that knocked down so many of the Rockport pheasant pens and created a severe shortage of birds that year because it didn't have any potential negative impact on other wild birds like this does with trout.  

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How extensive was the disease, and what impact will it have on others rivers that would get stocked?


It was first noted back in September of last year in 2 year old brown trout in a single raceway.  The Division euthanized 25,000 of those fish and began feeding medicated feed to treat others.  Later this winter, it began to show in both brook trout and more brown trout which were similarly fed medicated feed.  A plan was set in motion that included our Division's fish pathologist presenting the state's plan to a Upper Great Lakes fishery conference to be peer-reviewed.  It was fully supported and then that plan was made public to everyone at both fisheries meetings here in NJ and online.  The trout have been put in 4 categories:  Never exposed (safe to stock into trout maintenance waters), exposed but negative, exposed and tested positive but later testing negative after treatments, and positive (any positive fish will be destroyed and not stocked into any waters).  Recently, 114,000 brook trout that had been treated again tested positive, and they were just destroyed.  


The Division is not stocking trout production waters (TP) or lakes and ponds that drain into TP waters.  Right now, there are about 430,000 trout (give or take) that will be stocked against a norm of about 570,000 trout this spring.  So many streams like the upper South Branch above the Solitude Dam in High Bridge will not be stocked at all.  Same for the lower Wanaque, Lopatcong Creek, Little Flat Brook, Pequannock, and several others.  In trout maintenance waters ™ like the Musky, Pequest, Flat Brook, etc.,  those rivers will see normal stockings in the pre-season and then only the first 4 of the normal 7 weeks of in-season stockings.  Some rivers, lakes and ponds that aren't normally stocked with trout like the Hackensack and the lower Passaic below the Great Falls will see those fish that once tested positive and now are testing negative in a conservative effort to minimize issues to any other fish.


While furunculosis is predominantly only affects salmonids (trout and salmon) in hatchery situations where fish are tightly packed and stressed, it can at times impact other species.  But we don't often see any outbreaks of any significance in the wild where fish are well spread out from one another.   

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Do you mean trout stamp with no return?

There's still a ton of fish being put into the streams and rivers...just not as many as planned due to the disease.

But that is a proactive approach, and per Brian's description above, the state did their due diligence in evaluating the situation and doing peer reviews for determining the best course of action.


It could have been MUCH worse...imagine they wiped out the entire hatchery and had to start over.

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Not sure anyone can say 400,000+ trout being stocked versus the normal 570,000 is a "zero return"....but I understand many anglers are upset.  Look at it this way, if the water you fish normally is still being stocked this year, it will have the exact same # of trout stocked now during the pre-season and the exact # of trout stocked over the first 4 weeks, just not in weeks 5-7.  Most trout anglers that care about catching freshly stocked, nubby-finned raceway trout are done after about the first four weeks and those anglers will never notice any difference.  For guys like myself that fish year round, we already know that there are tons of both wild and holdover fish in the rivers right now for the catching.  We're fortunate not to have to rely solely on fresh stocked trout.    


I should add that I think a lot of anglers this year will throw more trout back than they have in the past.  That's a guess, of course, but I do think many will understand there are fewer to go around.  Besides, is anyone really eating 6 trout at a time?  Lots of anglers toss them into their freezers until their spouses say "OUT WITH THE SMELLY POPSICLE STICKS! and they are tossed in the garbage.  You know who you are   :rofl:

Edited by Bucksnbows
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