🐟 Opening day of trout season in New Jersey is Saturday, April 6

🐟 Anglers 16 and older must have a state fishing license and a trout stamp

🐟 There are rules and regulations regarding trout size to follow

Calling all fishermen and anglers!


Staying with its spring tradition, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Fish and Wildlife Division has announced opening day of trout season in New Jersey will be Saturday, April 6.

That means hundreds of waterways like ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams across the state from Cape May County to High Point State Park in Sussex County will be stocked with more than 184,000 rainbow trout, as well as larger broodstock.

Anglers of all ages are expected to head to their favorite fishing spots on opening day, which kicks off at 8 a.m., said Shawn Crouse, NJDEP Fish and Wildlife Freshwater Fisheries Bureau Chief.

NJ trout fishing (Photo Credit: NJDEP)
NJ trout fishing (Photo Credit: NJDEP)

“Fishing allows you to connect with nature. The opportunity to go out there and fish, I look at it as an opportunity to reconnect with nature. You can make it what you want it to be, whether it’s a solitary activity or include friends and family. You can pass on your knowledge of what you learned growing up to the next generation,” Crouse said.

Following opening day, the state’s 14 major trout streams will be stocked weekly and closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on stocking day to allow trout to disperse.

Not every waterbody will be stocked with trout for the entire seven weeks. That’s because some of the waters that are initially stocked, tend to warm up by June. So, they are only stocked earlier in the season since trout is a cold-water fish and only does best in cold conditions, Crouse said.

By the end of the spring stocking season, more than 570,000 rainbow trout will be stocked in waterways across the state, with most trout averaging 10 ½ inches in length and weighing about a half-pound each, Crouse said.

Trout fishing (NJDEP)
Trout fishing (NJDEP)


But there are a few rules that need to be followed. From Saturday, April 6 to Friday, May 31, the minimum legal size required to take trout is nine inches in length or greater, and anglers are allowed to keep six trout per day. Beginning Saturday, June 1, and continuing through winter 2025, the daily limit is reduced to four trout.

“One regulation that came into effect a few years back was for the conservation of wild brook trout. If you are fishing within the brook trout conservation zone which is in the northwest portion of the state and catch a brook trout, those are primarily wild fish that were born without hatchery need. Those fish are to be released immediately if they’re captured,” Crouse explained.

Dennis Malloy / Townsquare Media
Dennis Malloy / Townsquare Media

What do they look like?

Rainbow trout is the most recognized species of trout. Crouse said they generally have black dots down the side of their body and onto their tail with a distinct red or pink line starting at their cheek, and going horizontally down the rest of the body.

Brown trout are usually yellow in color with a neat dot pattern down their side. Brook trout have watermarks or squiggly lines down their back, and they have a vibrant, orange belly to them.

In addition to rainbow trout, approximately 6,000 broodstock trout, which are larger, older trout ranging in size from 14 inches to 26 inches and weighing up to seven pounds, will be stocked this spring. Between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-year-old broodstock will be stocked in New Jersey waterways, Crouse said. Anglers will find these trophy-size fish in waters across the state suitable for fish their size.

NJ Trout Fishing (Photo Credit: NJDEP)
NJ Trout Fishing (Photo Credit: NJDEP)

Fishing License

Before heading out on opening day to fish for trout, make sure you and everyone in your party is properly licensed.

Up until the age of 16, fishing is free. Any resident aged 16 to 64 must obtain a New Jersey fishing license. That costs $22.50. A senior resident fishing license for ages 65 to 69 costs $12.50. Fishing is free for those 70 years and older.

If anglers are trout stamping, there is an additional trout stamp requirement. Those ages 16 to 69 must purchase a trout stamp, which costs $10.50.

Crouse said between 90 and 100,000 trout stamps are sold each year in New Jersey.

The 2024 stocking schedule and trout allocations can be found here. Anglers can also find maps, regulations, and any updates and changes. Anglers can download the complete in-season stocking schedule to their smartphone by scanning the QR code on signs posted along trout-stock waters, as well.

For the best places to go trout fishing in New Jersey, visit here.

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Fall striper fishing on the Manasquan River

Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

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