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New Jersey and Delaware trout waters are open for business this Saturday, though saltwater anglers still have another meeting or two to get through to learn about the 2018 fluke and black sea bass regs.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  April 2, 2018
The annual kids fishing contest at Spring Lake is an opening day tradition for families looking to enjoy the New Jersey trout fishery. This year the lake will be closed to the general public (for kids only fishing) from the 3rd Avenue Bridge (where the contest tent is set up) down to the ocean in back of the hotel. The contest runs from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. For details visit

More than 184,000 freshly stocked rainbow trout will be available as anglers in New Jersey cast their lines on the much-anticipated opening of trout season at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 7.

“New Jersey can take pride in offering some of the finest trout fishing found on the East Coast,” said Acting New Jersey Department of Environmental Commissioner (NJDEP) Catherine R. McCabe last week. “Trout season offers anglers a chance to relax and spend quality time in the outdoors. We strongly encourage newcomers to try their hand at trout fishing and discover a rewarding way to enjoy the splendid scenery of early spring.”

The NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife has been stocking waterways with rainbow trout raised at the Pequest State Trout Hatchery in Warren County and will continue to stock waterways in the upcoming weeks.

More than 570,000 trout will be released in 173 streams, rivers, lakes and ponds throughout the state by the end of May. Most of the released trout will average 10½ inches long, but large breeders, known as broodstock, also will be distributed in the early weeks of the stocking season.

Anglers can download the complete in-season stocking schedule to their smartphones just by scanning the QR Code found in the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Freshwater Digest or on trout regulation signs posted along all trout stocked waters. Stocking information is also available through the Trout Stocking Hotline by calling (609) 633-6765.

Anyone age 16 or older must obtain a fishing license and trout stamp to fish for trout. Anglers can buy and print a fishing license and trout stamp online at or through license agents.

Get your New Jersey fishing license.

In Delaware, the 2018 freshwater trout season at Tidbury (Kent County) and Newton (Sussex County) Ponds opened on March 3, while in New Castle County if will officially get underway at 7:30 a.m. this Saturday, April 7. There is no fishing is allowed in designated trout streams or designated trout ponds for two weeks (14 days) leading up to the scheduled opening of the trout season.

A Delaware trout stamp is required to fish in a designated trout stream from the first Saturday in April through June 30 and from the first Saturday in October through November 30 unless exempted by law. A trout stamp is also required to fish Tidbury Pond in Kent County and Newton Pond in Sussex County from the first Saturday in March through April 1. Stamps are available online in electronic form, or a printed stamp may be obtained at DNREC Headquarters (89 Kings Hwy, Dover). All stamps must be signed across the face to legally trout fish. Purchasers of electronically issued stamps may obtain an original printed stamp by calling 302-739-9918. A stamp will be mailed to you after December 31, 2018.

Get your Delaware fishing license

In Pennsylvania, the statewide opening of trout is Saturday, April 14, though southeastern counties opened as of March 31 during the regional day opening which included all waters in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York counties (County Guide).

Fishing hours are 24-hours a day after the 8 a.m. opener in each of the respective regions with the regular season running through Labor Day. The minimum size limit for keeping trout is 7 inches, with a five fish creel (combined species) during the regular season, and a three fish creel (combined species) during the extended season from Labor Day through the end of December.

In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers 16 and older must posses a Trout/Salmon Permit (or Combination Trout-Salmon/Lake Erie Permit) to fish for trout. A Lake Erie Permit (or Combination Trout-Salmon/Lake Erie Permit) is also needed to fish for trout, salmon and steelhead in Lake Erie and its tributaries.

Get your Pennsylvania fishing License

New Jersey’s next Marine Fisheries Council meeting will be on Thursday, April 5 at 5 p.m. at the Bay Avenue Community Center at 775 East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin, NJ at 5 p.m. The final regulations for both summer flounder and black sea bass in the state will be discussed there. Anglers and business owners with an opinion on size, season and bag for these particular species should plan to attend

“We should have the final decisions on summer flounder and black sea bass very soon,” said John H. Clark, Fisheries Section Administrator for Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. Clark said the next Advisory Council meeting on Tidal Finfish will be on April 18 at 6 p.m. It’s expected that Delaware will be lowering its size limit on summer flounder to just 16-1/2 inches for 2018 while retaining the 365-day season and four-fish daily possession limit.

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