The statewide trout season kicks off 8 am Saturday, and all indications point to a bountiful Opening Day...and beyond.

Once again, as it’s been since 2015, all trout stocked will be rainbows.

After two years of a drastically altered springtime stocking program because of COVID concerns, it’s now back to the normal opening Saturday and a weekly in-season release schedule which, predicated on the water body, continues through Friday, May 27.

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This year for the opener, an additional 70,000 rainbows averaging 10.5 inches will be released, bringing the total in the neighborhood of 250,000. As such, every stocked water will see a bump in the amount of fish stocked for this Saturday. In addition, 2 percent of every pre-season load will include two and three-year-old breeders ranging from 16 to 26 inches and weighing up to 6-plus pounds.

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The spring stocking baseline is 570,000 ‘bows. However, if history repeats itself, there is a good chance that there will be surplus fish available. If the case, these will be added to the loads during weeks five through seven. Last year, for example, an additional 27,150 ‘bows were liberated for a total of 597,170.

Besides a return to the standard schedule and increased numbers for Opening Day, the wildly popular Bonus Broodstock Program has been resurrected. Ten ponds and lakes divided between the northern, central, and southern sectors of the state will receive, based on the respective surface acreage, either 30 or 50 three-year-old breeders. These will be part of the pre-season allocation, but the 2% of the initial payload will still be included.

Three South Jersey waters are on this year’s list. These include (bonus broodstock numbers in parenthesis) Birch Grove Park Pond (Atlantic County/50), Crystal Lake (Burlington County/50) and Shaws Mill Pond (Cumberland County/50). Their pre-Opening Day stocking totals are 580, 800, and 760 respectively.

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The southern tier county waters will be loaded for Saturday, and many will be stocked once a week during the upcoming 3-4 weeks. This information is available at www.njfishandwildlife.com. Click on the trout fishing link and then go to the 2022 spring stocking schedule listing.

Call the Trout Stocking Hotline (609-633-6765) for daily information

In addition to the aforementioned trio, some of our fave April swims (pre-Opening Day/total spring stocking numbers in parenthesis) are Ponderlodge Pond (710/1960), Heritage Park Pond (630/1410), Iona Lake (640/1420), Swedesboro Lake (780/1740), the Toms (2520/6010) and Maurice (1180/2100) rivers, Hammonton Lake (840/1890), Greenwich Lake (690/1560), Pemberton Lake (790/1780), Mary Elmer Lake (770/1730) and Tuckahoe Lake (810/2230).

The daily limit is six and drops to four after Memorial Day.

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Note: The Toms River is stocked Mondays through May 23. Fishing is not allowed until 5 pm on stocking day. There are 13 other premier rivers under the “Closed Waters” regulation, and these are listed on page 16 in the 2022 Freshwater Fishing Digest and also at njfishandwildlife.com’s trout fishing section.

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