Today's 70 degree temperatures had many of us thinking about spring, now just a few days away. Our spring deliveries continue to arrive. This past weekend, we welcomed back Daylight Savings Time. Thus armed with all of these favorable portents, I decided to try my luck on my first fish of March. Instead I was greeted by one of our newest friends Shannon Somerville, cautioning me about lightning and rumbles of thunder. I soon realized he was correct and that the portents that I had hoped would lead me to that elusive March trout instead had me executing a strategic retreat.
One thing is certain, spring is almost here. This Sunday night March 17th at midnight, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams stocked with trout under general regulations will close and re-open on Saturday April 6th at 8am. The water bodies are closed for the purpose of stocking the first 180,000 of what will ultimately be about 570,000 Rainbow Trout averaging about 10.5 inches in length but including trout up to seven pounds. The South Branch of the Raritan will recieve a total of about 40,000 trout this spring while the Musconetcong is expecting about 53,000 fish. More detailed information can be found on the Division's website: https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/trt_allocation19_dates.htm. Trout Conservation Areas or (TCA's) will be open to catch and release fishing with artificial lures only and some such as the Ken Lockwood Gorge TCA will require de-barbing your hooks and a limit on hook points. It is important to check regulations so please use the following link: https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/digfsh.htm In addition, these areas such as the KLG, Point Mountain TCA on the Musky, Flatbrook and the Pequest TCA's will be stocked by Division personel this coming week to provide some early action while the rest of the area's waterbodies are restocked. Wild Trout streams are all also open to catch and release fishing with artificials only as well.
Stoneflies were quite active this week and with gradually warming temperatures, this action should continue. There are a variety of good stonefly patterns but one of the most recognized is the Prince Nymph. Size 124-18 Prince nymphs have been catching fish all week. Depending upon the clarity of the water either small drab flies were the secret in lower water while larger nymphs such as the Prince or a spawn scored in higher flows.