While the State of New Jersey officially closed state and county parks in early April due to the COVID-19 crisis, the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) also reminded anglers that trout season remained open with most waters having received their full allotment of trout as of the April 11 opener. “All regulations remain in effect except there will be no in-season closures on the 14 major streams where they normally would be in effect,” the DFW announced on April 14, adding that the state’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) remain open except for the Round Valley Reservoir boat ramp.
According to New Jersey Department of Environmental Commissioner Catherine McCabe, the statewide park closure was the result of large crowds which overwhelmed State Park Police efforts to ensure social-distancing rules were followed. “Just prior to Governor Murphy’s issuance of Executive Order 118 closing state and county parks, state park visitation was at unusually high levels, with large numbers of visitors coming from out of state,” McCabe said, adding “Our law enforcement officers were forced to issue hundreds of verbal warnings to practice social distancing, disperse more than 160 gatherings of multiple people, and break up fights over parking spaces in overcrowded lots. Our officers even had to evict attendees at a wedding.”
The waters stocked with trout but not open for angler access in advance of the April 11 opener included Black River, D&R Canal, D&R Feeder Canal, Green Turtle Pond, Lake Aeroflex, Lake Hopatcong (State Park/ramp), Lake Musconetcong (State Park/ramp), Lake Ocquittunk, Little Swartswood Lake (State Park/ramp), Mingamahone Creek, Neldon Brook, Ringwood Brook, Round Valley, Sawmill Pond, Sheppard’s Lake, Swartswood Lake (State Park/ramps), Stony Lake, Wawayanda Creek and Wawayanda Lake.
“Unfortunately, 46 stocked waters are now closed to the public due to the closure of state and county parks, but nearly 125 other waters are at least partially open to the public for fishing,” DFW announced, while reporting that it has reserved trout at the Pequest Trout Hatchery in anticipation of being able to resume stocking towards the end of May depending on the current public health emergency.
The following county park waters were also known to be closed as per the governor’s mandate: Alms House Pond, Barbour’s Pond, Branch Brook Park Pond, Dahnert’s Lake, Diamond Mill Pond, Greenwich Lake, Haddon Lake, Holmdel Park Pond, Lake Shenandoah, Lower Echo Park Pond, Manalapan Lake, Manasquan River, Manny’s Pond, Milton Lake, Mountain Farm Pond, Nomahegan Park Pond, North Hudson Co. Park Pond, Roosevelt Park Pond, Rosedale Lake, Seeley’s Pond, Spooky Brook Park Pond, Verona Park Pond, Warinanco Pond, West Hudson Park Pond, and White Lake.
Over 50 state parks, forests, marinas and recreation areas were impacted by the closure, including marine locations like Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Cape May Point State Park, Corson’s Inlet State Park, Island Beach State Park and the state marinas at Farley, Fortescue, Forked River, Leonardo and Liberty Landing.
For a complete listing of New Jersey state parks go to www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests.