After a long, snowy winter it really is beginning to feel like spring. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is currently working on a modified stocking schedule similar to last year. Changes that were mandated due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Most of the annual spring allotment of Rainbow Trout from the Pequest Hatchery, around 500,000 fish are being stocked prior to the April 1st Catch and Release Opener. Starting on April 10th, anglers fishing general regulation waters will be able to keep their limit of six trout over nine inches. In the Brook Trout Conservation Zone in the area of the state north and west of Routes 287 and 787, all Brook Trout must be released and on the Brown Trout Conservation water on the South Branch of the Raritan from Solitude Falls to the Schooley's Mountain Bridge, only two Brown Trout may be kept and the minimum length is 12 inches. A further 70,000 Rainbows will be stocked in area waters in May.
Most of the action has been on midges, scuds and streamers but hatching activity has begun to pick up. Early Black Stoneflies and Black Chimarra Caddis have been keeping the trout interested and it does look like the first Baetis or Blue wing Olives are beginning to hatch as well. We will have to wait for the Hendricksons to start hatching but the Quill Gordons will likely be just ahead of them. Either way, it won't be long before the bugs really get going on area rivers and streams.