Welcome to 2024 New Jersey Freshwater Fishing
Are you ready for another season of great fishing action in New Jersey? The streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes of the Garden State are teeming with fish and your next adventure on the water could be just moments away. Many people say that variety is the spice of life, so if you subscribe to this view, then you’ve come to the right place! In this edition of the New Jersey Freshwater Fishing Digest you will become acquainted with the diverse assemblage of fish species and fishing opportunities that all of New Jersey has to offer. Species identification, regulations, fishing techniques and tips on where and when to fish, can all be found right here.
Every experienced angler remembers that moment in time when they became hooked on fishing. Those early fishing experiences can be very memorable and often started with a friend or relative inviting you along to go fishing. This year, take some time and share the fun of fishing with someone who has not yet had the opportunity to go out on their own. New Jersey offers many programs that make it easier for new anglers to get involved. Youth under the age of 16 are not required to get a fishing license in New Jersey, so encourage them to come along. If you don’t take them, who will? New Jersey residents over the age of 70 are also exempt from needing a license. Our Free Fishing Days (June 1 & October 19, 2024), when a fishing license or trout stamp is not required to fish, gives every New Jersey resident, regardless of age, the opportunity to try fishing before buying a license. Those new to fishing, who are required to get a license, can take advantage of our Buddy License Program, which gives two new anglers an almost 50% discount when they purchase their licenses together (for more information, see the advertisement in License Information). This is a great deal, and the program is available through our electronic licensing system.
Once you’ve decided you’re going to go fishing (don’t forget to take a new angler along with you), the next decision you need to make is where to go. We can help with this! Our Wildlife Management Areas are full of fabulous fishing opportunities. Coupled with other state-owned open spaces like State Parks and Forests, New Jersey boasts more than 800,000 acres of permanently preserved open space with access open to the public. That is a lot of public land for a small state. Our “Freshwater Fishing Explorer” app holds the “Great Fishing Close to Home” interactive map and the “Trout Stocked Waters” interactive map and both can help you find your perfect fishing spot in any region of the state. I find exploring new locations adds to the outdoor adventure. Try it for yourself this year and use our apps to help you find the exact fish species and water type you’re looking to pursue. These and other Fish & Wildlife apps can be found on the “Destinations - Maps Page” on our website - dep.nj.gov/njfw/destinations/maps/.
In New Jersey, the fun doesn’t stop once you’ve landed your fish. Let’s celebrate that catch! NJDEP’s Fish & Wildlife’s Skillful Angler Program recognizes great catches in the Garden State and serves as proof of the abilities of our anglers. This year our Skillful Angler Program’s award ceremony will occur in conjunction with the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs annual convention (see the advertisement in Public Meetings for more details). I hope to see you all there. Even if your fish falls short of the requirements for the Skillful Angler Program, we still share your excitement for fishing and want to celebrate your experience. Every week our “Go Fish Friday” social media post provides highlights of successful anglers and the great fishing opportunities in the Garden State. Share your experiences by sending us your photos and see what’s being caught in New Jersey at #GoFishFriday.
Getting outside is enjoyable for so many reasons. When coupled with freshwater fishing, your outdoor experience can be raised to a new level. NJDEP Fish & Wildlife takes great pride and pleasure in providing you with opportunities to experience the joy of fishing safely and successfully. I hope you have a great 2024 fishing season and remember that you are a partner in conservation in New Jersey. Let’s get outside!
Dave Golden is the Assistant Commissioner of New Jersey DEP Fish & Wildlife.