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Trout Angler Survey Results

39% of anglers named rainbow trout as the easiest species to catch in the fall

During the fall of 2012, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife set out to better understand the opinions and attitudes of its trout anglers by administering both a telephone and an online trout angler survey. Surveys like this help fisheries managers determine what anglers think regarding certain topics pertaining to fishing and fisheries management. The opinion and insight gained from these surveys is critically important information that will be used to help Fish and Wildlife managers make informed decisions and guide the future of our trout fishing program. What follows are survey highlights.

  • Bait such as worms, minnows and PowerBait are the most commonly used of the three lure choices by a very narrow margin over artificial lures and flies.
  • The overwhelming majority of New Jersey trout anglers (95 percent) fish throughout the spring trout season, while about 4 percent of respondents fish only on the opening day weekend.
  • Anglers spend an average of 16 days fishing for trout during the spring trout season (March through May).
  • The increasing trend towards catch and release continues with 64 percent of trout anglers surveyed indicating they release most or all trout caught.
  • Forty percent of anglers surveyed indicated that they fish in a year round or seasonal trout conservation area (TCA). The Ken Lockwood Gorge on the South Branch of the Raritan River was slightly more popular (25 percent) than the Point Mountain TCA located on the Musconetcong River (18 percent). Also, 22 percent of anglers surveyed indicated that they have fished the special regulation sections of the Big Flat Brook.

Big Flat Brook

At the time of the survey, Fish and Wildlife was developing regulations for a 4.2-mile section of the Big Flat/Flat Brook from Rt. 206 downstream to Roy Bridge. Therefore, the survey included several questions pertaining to angler practices targeting this popular trout stream. Anglers were asked if they fished the stretch of the Big Flat Brook where fly fishing regulations are in effect for all or most of the year. Twenty-two percent of all survey respondents indicated they had fished this section of the Big Flat Brook at some point during the year. This subset of anglers then answered a series of questions related to this special regulation area. Their answers are reflected here:

  • Angler satisfaction with the existing special regulations was high, with 31 percent very satisfied and 40 percent somewhat satisfied; 17 percent were somewhat or very dissatisfied.
  • When asked to name one regulation they would change if they could, 40 percent would change nothing while 33 percent would change the methods/type of bait or lures allowed; 6 percent would change the timing/dates when various regulations apply.
  • When asked if they would support reducing the daily creel as a way to limit the number of trout harvested from this stretch of stream, many said they would strongly support (56 percent) or moderately support (16 percent) a creel limit change. Less than 25 percent were opposed (10 percent strongly and 7 percent moderately opposed) to a daily creel reduction.

In-season Closures

Graph_In-Season-Closures.psdIn 2012, 16 trout stocked rivers and streams were closed to fishing from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day they are stocked during the seven-week period after opening day. These waters are mostly larger rivers and streams that are heavily stocked with trout, with many trout stocking and fishing access locations near a majority of New Jersey’s resident anglers. The in-season closures create a sense of fairness by allowing anglers who work during conventional work week hours the same “first crack” at freshly stocked trout as someone who may not have the same timing constraints. The closures also create a sense of sporting fairness by allowing the freshly stocked trout a period of time to acclimate to their new stream surroundings and spread out throughout a stream segment. Sixty-eight percent of anglers responding indicated that they fish in a river or stream that has an in-season stocking closure.

The majority of anglers surveyed (71 percent) were in support of these closures with the top reason given that it allows fish the opportunity to spread out throughout an area, while those who oppose the closures (10 percent) stated that the closures limit an anglers time and opportunity to fish.

Fall Trout Program

Graph_Fall-Species-Analysis.psdIn 2006, Fish and Wildlife made significant changes to its fall trout program. These changes included the stocking of larger two-year-old trout which resulted in fewer, but larger, trout being stocked.

Fall Species Analysis

Sample Size: 1,787

In your opinion, which stocked species is easiest to catch in the fall?

  • Sixty percent of survey respondents fish for trout stocked in the fall; 40 percent stated that they do not fish for fall trout.
  • The top reasons given for not fishing in the fall include not enough time (30 percent), poor weather (28 percent), busy hunting (10 percent) and fishing for other species (six percent).
  • Rainbow trout were the overwhelming top choice (39 percent) for easiest species to catch in the fall.
  • As for preferred species to catch, brown trout (25 percent) and rainbow trout (23 percent) were favored over brook trout (12 percent), though the majority of anglers answered that they have no preference (40 percent) as to which species they catch in the fall.

Information derived from this survey is crucial to assist Fish and Wildlife in managing recreational fishing and the state’s freshwater fish resources. We appreciate the time devoted to answering the survey and remind anglers that participation in future surveys will remain vital for making accurate and informed decisions on the future management of your freshwater fisheries resources.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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