The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and its Division of Fish & Wildlife (Division) offers free fishing days in the spring and fall, with the first “license free” freshwater fishing day coming on Saturday, June 3.
The June Free Fishing Day is held in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week; the October 21 date will allow the public to take advantage of the fall trout stocking. On these days residents may fish on the Garden State’s public waters without a license or trout stamp. All other regulations, including size and daily catch limits, remain in effect.
According to the Division’s Free Fishing Days webpage, these special days offer a no-risk investment for an introduction to freshwater fishing in the Garden State and the perfect time for families to enjoy two days of outdoor fun for free. Though youngsters under the age of 16 don’t need a license, these days provide a special benefit to adults who thus far haven’t made the leap into New Jersey’s freshwater opportunities yet for 2023.
According to the Division, there are more kinds of fish and more places for people to catch them than ever before. Thanks to the Hackettstown and Pequest State Fish Hatcheries, anglers can try their luck for stocked muskellunge, northern pike, walleye, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish and lake trout in New Jersey’s larger lakes as well as rainbow trout released into the state’s smaller streams and waterways.
Wild populations of fish (not hatchery raised) can also be found in abundance and anglers should pay close attention to regulations affecting them as these conservation measures are frequently more strict than for their stocked brethren. Either way, there is excellent fishing to be found statewide.
For those just starting out, Fish and Wildlife offers many programs and classes to advance from beginner to expert. The Pequest Trout Hatchery in Oxford, Warren County offers free fishing programs. Pequest offers a Natural Resource Education Center with a variety of exhibits and displays on wildlife, a butterfly garden, picnic areas and hiking trails. There is also a handicapped-accessible fishing site along the Pequest River. For further information contact the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center at 908-637-4125 ext. 0 or visit njfishandwildlife.com.