PEQUANNOCK RIVER CONDITIONS
|Pequannock River - Macopin Intake Dam, West Milford, NJ, USGS Current Data at 13:15 EDT 05-23-2013|
Height: 2.48 feet Flow: 23 ft3/sec Temperature: 19.0 °C (66.2°F)
The new millennium arrived with one of
the best opening days for trout season in memory.
The weather cooperated with a beautiful,
sunny day and temperatures in the mid seventies (~25° C). The
Pequannock was well stocked with rainbow and brook trout in addition to
the native brook and brown trout that thrive in the river year round.
My friend, Dr. Tim, and I started out on our quest for trout at 8 a.m.,
the legal start time of opening day trout fishing season in New Jersey.
We packed our ultralites, baby night crawlers, #24 hooks and high hopes
for a trout barbecue.
The Pequannock River can be divided into three areas based on trout
fishing regulations. Upstream, between the Oak Ridge Road bridge and
Charlottesburg Reservoir, is categorized as a "Wild Trout Stream" where
the in-season daily limit is two fish at least seven inches in length,
the brown trout minimum is twelve inches. At other times, this is a
catch and release only area. The Brook and Brown Trout in the river
above Charlottesburg Reservoir are wild, stream-bred fish. All Brown
Trout in the entire Pequannock River are wild fish and none are stocked
by the state. Many local anglers believe wild trout should be released
regardless of size. Below Charlottesburg, Rainbow and Brook Trout are
stocked*. Next is an area designated "Seasonal Trout Conservation Area"
where the in-season limit is six fish at least seven inches in length.
This area extends from the Route 23 bridge in Smoke Rise to the Route
23 bridge in Smith Mills (approximately 1.2 miles).
The Pequannock River is one of New Jersey's premier
trout habitats winding its way near route 23 though watershed property
owned by Newark. In recent years, the watershed commission has
successfully regulated flow in the river to promote trout breeding. The
river is closely monitored by the Pequannock River Coalition.
The Pequannock moves through a forest of evergreens and hardwoods for
much of it's length. Boulders and overhanging trees provide excellent
locations for trout.
The regulations vary here during the year, so it is best to check the
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest for more details. Both of the
preceding areas are artificial lure only, possession or use of bait
(live or preserved) or any substance (natural or synthetic) that
contains a concentration of bait scent is prohibited. In the southern
downstream section, general trout fishing regulations apply**.
Check the regulations if you plan on fishing in the
Pequannock River as each section is governed by specific regulations
depending on time of year.
or speckled trout, Salvenlinus fontinalis, is the most widely
distributed trout species in North America. It is roughly similar to
the European brown trout. A member of the family Salmondae, it is
recognized by a large mouth, violet mantle and red lateral spots. The
male has a reddish band along the sides of its body. The Brook Trout
averages about 1 kg (~2 lbs.) in weight, feeding on smaller fish,
crustacea and insect larvae. It is found in colder streams and rivers
between the Allegheny Mountains and Canada. The Raritan River in New
Jersey and the area north of it are highly rated breeding areas for
Brook Trout. These stocks of fish have been part of the human diet in
this area for thousands of years.
The day started out well with each of us catching trout
almost immediately on our arrival. I was
using a new Quantum Micro reel with a 4 foot Shakespeare
graphite composite rod. I like the shorter rods for fishing the
Pequannock as it is easier to negotiate the dense vegetation found on
the banks of the river. I went shopping at the local Walmart the day
before with my friend Ron who helped me pick out the reel. My previous
reel flew to pieces
the year before, probably due to the poor maintenance. Ron is an
experienced sportsman who makes some very effective spinners for me
(plus,can't beat the price...FREE!).
Eventually, my angling skills were put
to shame by Dr. Tim's expertise.
He had caught nine trout to my three. Dr. Tim dutifully
released the extra fish to into the cold, crystal clear waters of the
But that still left a few fish for our barbecue. Well,
it doesn't take a brain surgeon to clean fish, but it doesn't hurt to
be one either. Dr. Tim expertly prepared the trout for our barbecue
while I harvested some fresh spinach from my geodesic
greenhouse. We proceeded to feast on a nice spinach salad,
trout, baked potatoes and asparagus.
Then it was off again for an afternoon of
angling upstream on the Pequannock River. We went to a few spots that I
knew of, although the best is probably near some small waterfalls
alongside the Newark-Hamburg Turnpike.
The weather was exceptional for early April
in New Jersey, sunny and warm. The rivers water level made for near
optimal spin casting. But, it quickly became apparent that it was a
little too warm and that the trout were no longer feeding. We caught
and released a few fish, but it was not as exciting as the morning had
After enjoying the day for a little while
longer, we decided to visit the local pub. A few schnapps and beers
brought a fitting end to a great opening day!
Dr. Tim's Trout Barbecue
- Fresh Trout
- Salt and Pepper
- Butter, or Olive/Vegetable/Peanut Oil
- Aluminum Foil
1. Clean trout removing intestines,
inside of gills, leaving head and tail intact. Rinse fish with water.
Place fish onto aluminum foil, large enough to wrap fish.
2. Chop up onion and to opened fish, sprinkle onion slices, pepper and
salt to taste. Cut lemon into wedges and squeeze juice into center of
fish. Add a pat or two of butter or a few teaspoons of oil and securely
close the aluminum foil around the fish.
3. Place wrapped fish onto preheated barbecue grill with the seam side
up. Cook with the barbecue top covered approximately 5 minutes. Open
the barbecue grill cover and turn over the fish wrapped in aluminum
foil ( this is why it is important to make a tight seal with your
aluminum foil; the butter or oil may leak and cause some flare ups in
4. When the eyes turn white on both sides of the fish, remove from the
barbecue. Ready to Serve! Use fork to peel back the skin and carefully
remove flesh from the bone using a fork. Use the fork to pull the meat
off the bone by gently scrapping in the direction backbone to filet.
New Jersey Fishing License Online
The Pequannock River Coalition
Membership Application Form (PDF)
Pequannock River Coalition
Search the rt23.com Directory for
Science and Nature
Earth Day 2001 -
Pequannock River Clean-up
* Thanks to Ross Kushner , president of
the Pequannock River
Coalition, for information regarding native and stocked trout.
** New Jersey Fish and
Wildlife Digest, Vol 14, No. 2, January 2001, NJ Division of Fish Game and