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[C] Freshwater | Stocking




Through Fish and Wildlife’s extensive stocking programs incredible opportunities exist not only for trout but for Walleyes, Hybrid Striped Bass and Channel Catfish as well. Muskellunge, Northern Pike, and Lake Trout come in trophy proportions. Great fishing opportunities await – so come find out why fishing in NJ has never been better!



NJ offers more than 400 publicly accessible lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Click on your county of interest and find a place that’s perfect for your outing!


frequently asked questions

Many species of freshwater fish in NJ spawn naturally and can maintain healthy and sustainable populations without the intervention of stocking. So, stocking in some instances can be unproductive. Largemouth bass is a great example of a popular game fish species found throughout NJ which can be found in your local lake or pond because they were stocked or found their way into that waterbody at some point. They’ll spawn in the spring and natural reproduction will maintain the population. In fact, additional stocking of fish species without knowledge of the current fish population in a waterbody can have negative impacts (i.e. stunted fish populations, disease, etc.). Some species may just have negative impacts on the ecosystem or are avoided because their populations are hard to control/may become a nuisance.
In most cases, stocking of fish is not necessary and can be detrimental to the fishery. Since largemouth bass and sunfish reproduce naturally in most waterbodies, stocking is usually not necessary. Stocking fish on top of an existing fishery can cause it to become unbalanced and overpopulated, resulting in lots of small, stunted fish. A stocking permit is required before any fish may be introduced into a waterway and will only be approved if fisheries biologists determine that stocking is beneficial to the fishery. NJ Fish and Wildlife typically handles stocking of waters open to the public for fishing after biologists complete an assessment of the existing fish population and it is determined stocking would be beneficial such as to bolster a weak year class, to re-establish a population or to create new fisheries.
Yes and yes. The stocking of any fish species (or their eggs) into any water, requires a permit from NJ Fish and Wildlife, regardless of ownership. That includes waters owned by the state, a municipality, private property, a lake owner association and all other waterbodies. If you belong to a private lake association, please check that your organization has received the proper state permit. The permit protects against stocking exotic fish species, assures that healthy fish are purchased only from an approved source and that the quantity and species are appropriate for the waterbody. A Fish Stocking Permit application only costs $2.
No, fish are not for sale from either hatchery. It is illegal to sell any freshwater fish species except under commercial permits as described in the Fish Code. Fish raised at both hatcheries are raised to improve or support fisheries for the recreational enjoyment of NJ anglers.
This may be the most frequently asked question in recent years. Brown trout will be reintroduced to the Pequest Hatchery once the raceways are covered. Although there are select strains of brown trout that are resistant to furunculosis — the disease that necessitated euthanizing nearly 230,000 trout at Pequest — it’s important to know that other pathogens also pose a potential fish health threat. Covering the raceways is the best protection we can provide for the hatchery’s valuable fish stock. Covers prevent pathogens from being introduced by birds that regularly prey on raceway trout despite the numerous deterrent devices already in place. There are no plans to bring back brook trout. However, in the future, Fish and Wildlife may investigate other trout strains to provide a diverse fishing experience for our coldwater anglers.
In September of 2013, furunculosis was found for the first time at the Pequest Trout Hatchery in brown and brook trout, which impacted the 2014 trout stocking season. It is believed that the bacterium was introduced to the hatchery from a bird. Birds are a major source for introducing diseases in fish hatcheries by feeding on diseased fish in the wild and introducing the pathogen to the hatchery either by diving into the raceways or through their feces. The disease was treated with several fish approved antibiotics (Florfenicol and Oxytetracycline).

Since the 2013 outbreak, a number of preventative actions have been taken and are ongoing at Pequest to help eliminate the bacterium from the hatchery and to avoid the disease in future years. All hatchery raceways are steam-cleaned and disinfected, and the remaining brook and brown trout have been vaccinated to help protect them from the disease. In addition, the hatchery will raise primarily rainbow trout since this is a species with natural resistance to the disease. Options are being explored to cover the outdoor raceways in which the trout are raised to increase biosecurity of the facility.
NJ Fish and Wildlife stocks trout with the intention of anglers keeping these fish. However, anglers may choose to release trout for the chance to catch them again or a fellow angler to have the same opportunity. Keep in mind that trout are a coldwater fish species and are stocked in many waterbodies that will become too warm in the summer. NJ Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to keep and enjoy eating their catch, especially as temperatures warm in places that they’ll be very unlikely to survive in the summer.
If possible, please take a picture to confirm the fish’s identification and report it to Moving fish from one waterbody to another without a permit is illegal. Fish can also swim great distances to a waterbody that they weren’t introduced in. Either way, it’s helpful for NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Biologists to have reports of these occurrences to understand the distribution and interaction of these species and if any unwanted activities are occurring.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625
Last Update: July 22nd, 2022