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South Branch Raritan River Trout Fishing

The North Branch Raritan River rises in central Morris County, New Jersey south of Dover and flows generally southward into Somerset County, around the southern end of the Watchung Mountains. At its end, it forms the border between Bridgewater and Branchburg Townships, and upon reaching the border of Hillsborough Township, joins the South Branch Raritan River to form the main Raritan River in the oft-flooded Bound Brook area, which generally flows eastward from that point. This area where the branches converge was often called "Two Bridges" by the early European settlers, after a set of bridges built in 1733 that met at a small island (the island has washed away over time) on the North Branch. Today the area is generally referred to as "The Confluence". In the 1970s, the state discussed plans for a Raritan Confluence Reservoir, which has been shelved due to acquisition costs.

south branch raritan river trout fishing


Several spots jumped out for fall trout stocking and holdover heaven. The Milltown Road intersection at Route 22 sees heavy traffic but constantly produces. Just beware of aggressive otters there as one tried to eat my trout off a stringer years ago. Cars park on either side of the road here and walk the pocket water. It does not feature the fast water fly fishing runs of the epochal South Branch but it does have good flow and deep undercuts where big browns and rainbows reside, inhaling artificial lures or bait.

The fledgling river flows south from Budd Lake, under Route 46 where you can follow its general path by turning left on Wolff Rd, right on Flanders-Drakestown, and left again on River Road through heavily wooded residential areas marked here and there by occasional ancient homesteads and antique mills refurbished for family habitation. When River Road meets Flanders Bartley Road, turn right and follow the river as it makes its way, having picked up some steam, into Washington Valley.

The river is fine for fishing all the way from Long Valley through Califon, but the feeder streams that contribute through the gorge keep this portion of the water a little colder. And the gorge nurtures all kinds of insect life including mayflies, caddis, stone flies, crane flies as well as scud (freshwater shrimp). These factors, combined with bountiful big boulders and deep holes, make the gorge prime real estate for rainbows, browns and brookies. For fly fishermen, its paradise. To keep the gorge healthy, most frequent fishers at Ken Lockwood adhere strictly to a catch and release policy. Whether you visit this oasis to fish or to simply breathe it in, please carry out everything you carry in. Although Trout Unlimited has placed refuse barrels throughout the Wildlife Management Area, they fill quickly and piles of refuse can soon find their way to the ground.

Brown trout? Largemouth bass? Smallmouth bass? All are non-native species. Over the past century, these species have become naturalized in New Jersey and are reproducing in the wild. The state also stocks several game species in some waters. Naturalized species, like smallmouth bass and brown trout, are important recreational targets for anglers. Recreational fishing is a good way to get people engaged with nature and in tune with their local stream.

Tightline Productions, which produces our amazing weekly fly-tying videos, recently turned their cameras on a large restoration project on their home water, the South Branch of the Raritan River in Califon, New Jersey. Joke all you want about The Garden State, but the South Branch is a wonderful trout river, which I fished regularly when I was in graduate school in Rutgers.

*cfs = Cubic Feet per SecondFishing and wading based on USGS stream flowsMusconetcong RiverUnder 125 cfs - Give the fish a break, river is too low.100-150 cfs - Tough fishing with spooky Trout. No reason to wade.150-350 cfs - Best flows for fishing. Wade with caution.350-500 cfs - Fish will move out of the heavy current. Treacherous wading conditions.Over 500 cfs - Tough conditions, look for smaller water in the area .Do not wade.Pequest River50cfs and below-Give the fish a break, river is too low.50-100cfs-Tough fishing with spooky Trout. No reason to wade.100-150cfs- Low flows for fishing.150-200cfs-Best level for fishing.200-250cfs-Good flows for fishing Wade with caution300+cfs- Fish the banks and slower water, wade with caution.400+ cfs- Tough conditions, look for smaller water in the area .Do not wade.South Branch River50cfs and below-Give the fish a break, river is too low.50-100cfs-Tough fishing with spooky Trout. No reason to wade.100-150cfs-Good flows for fishing. Wade with caution.150-200cfs-Best level for fishing. Treacherous wading conditions.200-250cfs-Tough conditions for fishing. Fish the slow edges. Do not wade!250+cfs-Stay home and tie some flies.

From the Skylands region to the Raritan River, there are a number of places to experience the excitement of trout fishing in New Jersey. Work on your fly fishing skills or find a family-friendly trout fishing spot to take the kids.

If you are planning your first trout fishing trip, you will need a state freshwater fishing license and trout stamp. Be sure to check the New Jersey regulations for information on the opening day of trout season, stocking dates, limits, and any restrictions that may apply to trout conservation areas.

This tributary to the Delaware River offers miles of freshwater fishing in New Jersey for rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. You can wade for trout from access points in White, Oxford, and Liberty townships. Check with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife for specific access locations.

If you want to catch a stocked rainbow trout or brown trout on fly, the South Branch of the Raritan River offers you a good opportunity. The North Branch of the river doesn't have the same fast-flowing runs as the South Branch, but can be a good place to try using artificial lures or live bait with spinning tackle.

  • Round Valley Reservoir is another good spot for trout fishing in New Jersey by boat. Located in Lebanon, this reservoir holds populations of naturally reproducing lake trout and state-stocked rainbow trout.

Ken Lockwood Gorge is best known as a trout fishing destination. The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife has designated the area as a "Trout Conservation Area", in which a separate set of rules apply. The limits are different from most other sections of the Raritan River, and fishing with bait is prohibited.[4]

Trout season officially began in all waters open to public angling on Saturday, April 10 at 8 a.m. For opening day, 173,000 trout have been stocked in the state's freshwater streams, lakes, ponds and impoundments. Before the start of trout season, nine ponds and lakes will be stocked with "bonus broodstock". These brown trout, which weigh an average of three to five pounds, will be distributed at Colonial Lake (Mercer County), Woodcliff Lake (Hudson County), Verona Park Lake (Essex County), Burnham Park Pond (Morris County), Roosevelt Park Pond (Middlesex County), Holmdel Park Pond (Monmouth County), Grenloch Lake (Gloucester County), Riverview Beach Pond (Salem County) and Birch Grove Park Pond (Atlantic County). The odds of catching one of these large browns is much higher since each waterbody will receive five times the usual allotment. Anglers are invited out to attempt to catch these fish on opening day and during the weeks that follow. (Click for more information on the new Bonus Broodstock Ponda and Lakes.) New stocking additions this year include a two-mile stretch of the Passaic River from Mount Vernon Avenue to Route 24 between Chatham and Summit. This section, referred to as the Passaic River-Lower, will be stocked on the same days as the upstream stretch and will receive 2,980 brook and rainbow trout during the pre-season period and four in-season weekly stockings. It is a significant addition to existing fishing opportunities along the Passaic. Anglers should note that New Jersey offers ample opportunities for wild trout fishing year round and that three new streams have been designated under the Wild Trout Stream regulation this year including the Saddle River, from State Line to Lake Street in Upper Saddle River; Jackson Brook, from its source to Hedden Park Lake in Mine Hill Township; and the Whippany River, from its source to Tingley Road in Mendham. The designation change means Tingley Road on the Whippany will no longer be stocked with trout. All three waterways support excellent brown trout populations and the headwaters of the Whippany River also support rainbows. Angling in these waters is limited to the use of artificial lures. A daily creel limit of two fish is allowed from opening day of trout season through September 15, with catch and release only at other times of the year. Currently, 35 of the state's 175 natural reproducing trout streams have the Wild Trout Stream designation. Anglers should note that stretches of these streams are in private ownership and permission from the landowner is required. Also new this year, the state's popular Year Round Trout Conservation Areas will be receiving an additional stocking during the in-season stocking period. Typically these waters received two in-season stockings, but in response to requests from anglers, these waters will now receive an additional stocking of primarily brown trout during week six. It should be noted that the Claremont stretch on the South Branch of the Raritan is the only Trout Conservation Area not stocked by the Division. This one-mile stretch of river in Long Valley yields enough naturally reproducing brook and brown trout to satisfy any angler. The undercut banks and extensive streambank vegetation, however, can wreak havoc on lures. For those who have had difficulty in finding this stretch in the past, the Morris County Parks Commission completed a parking area with a trail leading down to the river on Fairview Ave., located off Schooley's Mountain Road near the Rt. 24 intersection. An old railway bed also parallels the river providing foot access along a good stretch of the area. The Ken Lockwood Gorge on the South Branch of the Raritan River will also benefit from the additional stocking of brown trout. Fishing on the gorge has been slow to recover since April 2002 when temperatures on the South Branch reached 80 due to an unusual warm spell coupled with the drought. This was also the same year the regulation change was made from a Fly Fishing Only stretch to a Year Round Trout Conservation Area. The regulation change was effective in spreading out fishing pressure and provided more conservative regulations for this popular holdover water. The current regulations of artificial lures only, with a 15-inch minimum size and a limit of one fish per day is for those who like to practice catch and release. The regulation change also permits fishing during the state's three week pre-season closure and during the in-season stocking dates provided all trout, even those over 15", are released immediately. The four-mile section of the Big Flat Brook, between Rt. 206 downstream to the Roy Bridge on Mountain Road, remains the state's only Fly Fishing Only water. However, those with a preference toward bait can fish this exceptional stretch of water from opening day until April 19, except on the half-mile section known as the Blewett tract. For those looking for bigger fish, New Jersey has seven designated Holdover Trout Lakes: Clinton Reservoir, Lake Aeroflex, Lake Wawayanda, Monksville Reservoir, Shephard Lake, Swartswood Lake and White Lake. These lakes have good oxygen and temperature levels to support trout throughout the year, so trout stocked one year will survive to the following year. As with the Trout Conservation Areas, these waters offer year round trout fishing opportunities. The state's two Trophy Trout Lakes, Round Valley Reservoir and Merrill Creek Reservoir, offer non-stop trout fishing opportunities year round. Although not stocked until the in-season period, both reservoirs have considerable holdover capabilities throughout their extensive water column. To the pleasure of shoreline anglers, rainbows move in along the perimeter of the lake in late May and once again in October. The browns tend to be more elusive, but drifting herring is still the method of choice for the majority of boat anglers on the state's larger waterbodies. Fishing for rainbows at night through the summer months continues to be very successful. Round Valley continues to yield large lake trout throughout the year at varying depths. The Division's fall gill netting yielded several trophies over 20 pounds. Anglers are reminded that browns and rainbows must be at least 15'' to keep at either waterbody and lake trout must be a minimum of 15"at Merrill Creek and 20" at Round Valley Reservoir. Consult the 2004 New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest freshwater fishing issue for season dates. As for trout fishing techniques, those who prefer to use bait (particularly those who enjoy a good trout dinner), will find that small garden worms or mealworms on a size 12 hook usually yield success in both streams and small ponds. Small minnows, powerbait or salmon eggs on small treble hooks drifting in the current are also popular. For muddy waters, an all white rooster tail spinner is suggested. For those who prefer lures, #1 or #2 spinners or small phoebes (gold or silver), are a tried and true favorite for all types of waters. As always, success depends on water conditions and temperature. For those fishing with flies, the first major mayfly hatch of the year may be in full swing on the South Branch, Musconetcong and Pohatcong creeks for opening day. Hatching should also be starting on the Paulinskill and Flatbrook, but there anglers are more likely to see stoneflies, typically around 4 to 5 p.m. Fortunately, for those who like to sleep in a bit later, the action in April begins after lunch when the Mayfly duns begin to hatch around 2-3 p.m. with the spinners falling back on the water around 6 p.m. The duns are replicated with size 12 or 14 brown mayfly imitations and the spinners can be emulated with size 14 or 16 Rusty spinners. If the hatches haven't yet peaked or you're an early riser, nymphs are always a good bet on most New Jersey streams. Size 12-14 hare's ears nymphs and size 14-16 black stonefly nymphs are recommended with a note that the old standby, a black wooly bugger, is a good bet for success on any trout stream. For those interested in learning to fly fish, Trout Unlimited holds classes almost every Saturday through April and May at the Division's Pequest Trout Hatchery in Oxford, Warren County. Fly rods and reels are provided for the day and participants get to try out their new skills at the Fishing Education pond at the end of the day. For information, call the hatchery at 908-637-4125. (For information on how the trout are raised at Pequest, see Hatchery Superintendent Jeff Matthew's article on how NJ's State Trout Hatchery Gets a Helping Hand). All in all, the forecast for trout fishing this year is excellent. Through the end of stocking season, the Division will have released more than 575,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout into 95 streams and 89 freshwater lakes, ponds and impoundments. The high levels of precipitation, ice and snow cover that accumulated this winter should provide ample water levels and stream flows during the spring months. From small headwater native brook trout streams and larger naturally reproducing brown and rainbow trout waters to large holdover reservoirs and small pond environments, New Jersey has it all. Regulations are geared to providing a diversity of fishing experiences not only for those who are dedicated to the practice of catch and release, but also for those who prefer to reap the benefits of a successful day's catch at the dinner table. Just keep in mind that some trout waters may be closed on specific dates and times during pre and in-season trout stocking periods. Be sure to refer to the 2004 Freshwater Fishing Digest for information on fishing specific waters and associated regulations. For a weekly updated list of waters slated for spring stocking, call the Division's Trout Stocking Hotline at 609-633-6765 or check the online schedule at Information on New Jersey trout fishing, licenses and stamps is available on the Division' s website at Anglers can also purchase fishing licenses and trout stamps online through the website. NJ Fish and WildlifeArticle RatingCurrent Article Rating: 3.03 with 1,336 ratesHate ItLove It 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Post Your ReviewsPost your comments. * Required Fields. You must be logged in to post a review. Please login now or register for free todayName:*Email: OptionalYour Grade:PositiveNegativeYour Review:*Read Reviews Read 1 reviewGradeThe Reviewchuck Posted: April 5, 2013Stocking Trout warm water ponds is a waste of money. The NJ Trout stocking program is out of control. Sure there are many good Trout worthy streams in new Jersey. But They are stocking trout in warm water ponds and suspending all fishing in those ponds for 3 weeks March 18 to April 6. I don't give a darn for those nasty tasting stocked trout. I want to catch some bass and cat fish and i resent having my fishing stopped for some trout that the cormorants and the warm water are going to kill anyway. They should be improving the habitate of the small ponds with plants and structure to support the native warm water spiecies. duh!!! About usFishing Tackle Marketplace Over 100,000 Items Available


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