On Thursday, November 8, 325 Landlocked Salmon were stocked in Merrill Creek Reservoir in Warren County. The reservoir, a Trophy Trout Lake, is the latest water to be added to the Landlocked Salmon stocking program. The stocked fish measured 14-15 inches so many already or soon will meet the minimum legal length of 15 inches.
The state has been stocking salmon since 2006. Initially the fish were 7 to 8-inch spring yearling salmon obtained from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The fish were immediately float-stocked in just two lakes (Wawayanda and Aeroflex in Sussex Co.) (see the Salmon in New Jersey page for past year’s information).
In 2013 indoor tank space at the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery became available to hold and grow salmon to a much large size prior to stocking. The bigger salmon quickly became very popular and more anglers began targeting and catching salmon. Tilcon Lake (Morris Co.) was added to the stocking program in 2014 further increasing interest.
Beginning this year, Fish and Wildlife has implemented a fall-based stocking program for Landlocked Salmon, made possible with Massachusetts providing fingerling salmon much earlier in their growth cycle at a size of 4-5 inches. The fish are grown for a year at Hackettstown to attain the larger size fish (14-15 inches) now being stocked.
Prior to the Merrill Creek Reservoir stocking, the following waters were stocked with salmon (14 to 15-inches) in October:
Wawayanda Lake – 1,275
Lake Aeroflex – 505
Tilcon Lake – 440
Salmon caught in these Holdover Trout Lakes must at least 12 inches long to be harvested. The daily limit is two salmon per day except during the spring three-week pre-season closure that precedes the opening day of the trout season in April. During that time frame all trout and salmon must be released immediately and unharmed.