NJ Wild Trout Streams

The State Legislature of New Jersey has designated 35 of the most pristine streams in the less populated areas of the state as “Wild Trout Streams.” Up to 175 similar waterways exist throughout the state, smaller in size and more difficult to access, they are classified as trout producing waters. “Wild Trout Streams,” support the natural reproduction of trout within their banks thus are well protected.  In addition to development buffers, special regulations apply such as artificial lures only and a 12 inch/ two per day limit, effectively protecting the rare populations within these waters. If you are lucky, a few of these locations harbor Heritage Brook Trout; the ancestral relatives to the stocked brook trout of today.

Saturday was unseasonably warm and the Moose Knuckle crew ventured to a purposefully undisclosed location. Many of the streams are at higher elevations (for NJ) as wild Brook Trout require clear, cool and highly oxygenated water. This trout stream is surprising. It thrives in swampy low lands, backyards and long since abandoned farm fields; a true testament to the smart growth management tools used by the town and state government.

Pulled this guy out on a gold Panther Martin

Fortunately, in February there are no briars or thistle; come May this stream is inaccessible courtesy of the dense underbrush that colonized the fallow grazing land surrounding the muddy channel. Fishing was slow and remained that way, the sun disappeared behind the clouds as soon as we arrived. The trout were not cooperating with our intention to momentarily capture them. A gold Panther Martin helped end the skunk; when the sun poked through the clouds, the gold glint attracted an aggressive Brook Trout.

The quarry was stacking up at the tail end of the pool, along an undercut bank prior to the narrow fast riffle where the water exited. They would respond only to lures that dragged along the muddy bottom, risking a snag on the tree roots. Above is a picture of one of the little guys, we promptly released him to where he came. As note, please be gentle with these wild trout; de-barb your hooks, wet your hands before handling and release as soon as possible. Practice catch and release here, it takes longer for these Brook Trout to grow a mere 12 inches than any hatchery trout.

This blog is the first of an ongoing blog. If you are interested in learning more about Wild Trout Streams in New Jersey or a guided fishing trip on one of these streams send an email to mooseknucklefishing@gmail.com.

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