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New Jersey

Freshwater Fishing

Hackettstown 110th Anniversary

Photo of Hackettstown Fish Hatchery.

Another decade of fish production at the Hackettstown Hatchery is in the books, yet it seems like only yesterday that the hatchery’s centennial was celebrated.

Over the last ten years, the hatchery and its staff have dealt with several extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy (13-day power outage), Tropical Storm Isaias (rain and wind) and Winter Storm Orlena (30 inches of snow) plus a pandemic. As this story was being written, the flood gates on Trout Brook had to be opened after two back-to-back 5-inch rains fell from Hurricane Ida.

Since the Centennial Celebration in 2012, Hackettstown Hatchery staff have driven 167,000 miles and stocked more than 31 million fish, weighing a total of 206,000 pounds. The hatchery has undergone numerous improvements, including ultraviolet water sterilization and alarm system upgrades, a green energy initiative to improve lighting, heating, and cooling in the intensive culture building and a new fueling station. Several new distribution trucks and a new boat were added to the fleet to safely transport both fish and our crew. A new 110-hp John Deere tractor has made a big difference in maintaining the miles of hatchery dirt roads and pond dikes. Major pond renovations (dredging and grading) continue and are paramount to our successful operation.

Fish and Wildlife also negotiated a lease with Centenary University for one of our older buildings as a biology classroom and lab. The hatchery benefits from this relationship annually through the service of student interns.

Since 2013, Landlocked Atlantic Salmon have been acquired from Massachusetts’ Roger Reed Salmon Hatchery in a trade for our surplus Northern Pike fingerlings. In return, New Jersey receives 6,000 five-inch salmon which are raised at Hackettstown to a catchable size. This program has produced 32,000 catchable-size salmon stocked across four waters. A historic state record was broken on June 2, 2018, by Runelvy Rodriguez, Lake Aeroflex, measuring 25¾ inches and weighing 8 lbs. 5 oz. Last fall, that record was broken by Joe Satkowski fishing Merrill Creek Reservoir, at 8 lbs. 10 oz.

Agency-wide, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has increased our emphasis on marketing, branding and social media over the last decade. Many hatchery stocking trucks are wrapped with colorful and flashy fish decals and promotional slogans to raise awareness of the state fish stocking programs. Social media has become an important tool to relay information while allowing users to voice their opinions and post their catch.

So, what makes the Hackettstown Hatchery great? That’s easy. It’s the 110-year history — the employees, grounds, stories, records and photos. It’s the relationship with the town and its residents, the university, faculty and students. It’s the diversity of daily work assignments, as two days are never the same.

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Hackettstown Fish Hatchery is also great because of the dedication and ingenuity of staff, past and present. And naturally, it’s the 15 fish species raised here — from minnows to muskies — for our anglers.

Fish Stocking Do's and Don'ts

Why should I get a Fish Stocking Permit?

It is the law! Before you consider stocking any fish in New Jersey, you must first obtain a fish stocking permit from the Division of Fish and Wildlife. It does not matter whether the pond is public or private, connected to, or isolated from, a neighboring water, or if the waterbody is stocked by the state or a private club. A fish stocking permit is always required.

An application and information can be found at NJFishandWildlife.com/fishperms.htm#stocking. The application fee is only $2.

Only approved hatcheries will be authorized for stocking. Hatcheries are required to submit annual fish health information, thus minimizing the potential for the spread of disease.

Fish Stocking Do’s

  • Do establish your stocking goal, whether it is to supplement an existing population, create a unique opportunity or restore a fishery (dredging or dam repair project).
  • Do know your waterbody. Most fish require particular conditions, so understand your waterbody’s habitat and water quality. Factors to consider include waterbody size, depth and substrate, and water temperature, oxygen level, pH and flow.
  • Do get permission from the waterbody owner, as their signature is required on the application.
  • Do avoid delays in the processing of your application by first reviewing the nine simple guidelines listed at NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/fisheries_permitapp_info.pdf.

Fish Stocking Don’ts

  • Don’t purchase fish from a hatchery without obtaining a fish stocking permit.
  • Don’t transport fish from one waterbody to another.
  • Don’t assume your pond needs to be stocked, as most waters do not require stocking.
  • Don’t stock an invasive species (NJFishandWildlife.com/aquatic_invasives.htm).
  • Don’t assume common game species are harmless. Even they can cause ecological harm if introduced into the wrong locations.
  • Don’t release pet aquarium fish into a local waterway.