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New Jersey

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater Fishing

Summary of Fishing Regulations

Regulations in red are new this year.

Water Supply Reservoirs Open To Fishing By Permit Only

(Permits must be obtained from the specific reservoir owner listed below. A valid fishing license is also required.)

Waterbody

County

Type of Fishing

Fee

Permit Source

Newark-Pequannock Watershed Reservoirs

Echo Lake

Passaic

Boat & Shoreline

Yes

Newark Watershed reservoir permits available in person only at these locations:

City of Newark
223 Echo Lake Road, Newfoundland, NJ 07435
973-697-1724

Clinton Reservoir

Oak Ridge Reservoir

Morris

Canistear Reservoir

Sussex

Oradell Reservoir

Bergen

Shoreline only

Yes

United Water Company
461 From Rd. Paramus, NJ 07652

Suez Watershed Application
201-767-9300 x3208
www.suezwatershed.com

Woodcliff Lake

Lake Tappan Reservoir
Lake Deforest

Summary of General Fishing Regulations

The season, size and creel limits for freshwater species apply to all waters of the state, including tidal waters.

  • Fish may be taken only in the manner known as angling with handline or with rod and line, or as otherwise allowed by law.
  • When fishing from the shoreline, no more than three fishing rods, handlines or combination thereof may be used (except on the Delaware River. There is no rod limit when fishing from a boat except for the Delaware River.) For the Delaware River the three rod limit applies both to boat and shoreline anglers (see Delaware River regulations).
  • Only one daily creel of any fish species may be in possession. Additional fish may be caught once the creel is reached if immediately returned to the water unharmed.
  • Separate stringers or buckets must be used for each angler’s catch.
  • Boats may contain only the combined daily creel limit for each legal angler on board.
  • A fishing license does not authorize trespassing on private property. Permission must first be obtained from the landowner.

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Fish within 100 feet (or as posted) of any fish ladder entrance or exit from March 1 through June 30.
  • Spear fish in fresh waters except as specified for Delaware River, see Delaware River regulations.
  • Possess a fishing device with more than nine hooks in total, or more than three treble hooks, except for the Delaware River; see Delaware River regulations.
  • Use set lines.
  • Use cast nets in freshwater lakes or trout stocked waters. See Baitfish regulations for other exclusions.
  • Foul hook or snag any species of fish. This does not apply to fish taken through the ice.

Bow and Arrow Fishing

Carp (including bighead, common, grass), eels, flathead catfish, American shad (Delaware River only), gizzard shad, snakeheads and suckers or hybrids of these species—may be taken at any time by use of a bow and arrow (with a line attached to the arrow) when in possession of a valid fishing license. Crossbows may be used when bowfishing except for Greenwood Lake. Crossbows must have a stock length of at least 25 inches, a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a working safety. Crossbows must be uncocked during transport or when not actively fishing. They may not be permanently mounted. NOTE: some municipalities have banned the discharge of bow and arrow, tethered arrow or not. As such, anglers are strongly urged to check with the waterbody owner and/or municipality prior to engaging in bowfishing. See regulations for the Delaware River and Greenwood Lake.

Emergency Closures

It is illegal to fish or attempt to catch or kill fish by any manner or means in any waters for which the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, upon approval by the Fish and Game Council, issues an emergency closure notice. Such notification is effective and/or rescinded immediately upon public notification. Emergency closures shall be based upon imminent threat to the well-being of the fishery resources, and/or its users, and may include any exceptions to the total ban of fishing that the Director deems practical.

Ice Fishing

No more than five devices per person may be used when fishing through the ice. Legal devices include:

  1. Ice supported tip-ups or lines with one single pointed hook attached, or one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to shaft.
  2. An artificial jigging lure with not more than one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to point.
  3. An artificial jigging lure with not more than three single hooks measuring not more than ½-inch from point to shaft.
  4. An artificial jigging lure with a combination of the hook limitations described in 2 and 3 above.

Natural bait may be used on the hooks of the artificial jigging lures. All devices that are not hand-held must bear the name and address of the user and cannot be left unattended.

See separate regulations for trout-stocked waters and Greenwood Lake.

Potentially Dangerous Fish

The possession or release of live, potentially dangerous fish is prohibited. These species include Asian swamp eel, bighead, grass (diploid) and silver carp, blue and flathead catfish, round goby, brook stickleback, green sunfish, oriental weatherfish, snakehead and warmouth. All black bass except for largemouth and smallmouth bass are considered potentially dangerous. Anglers MUST destroy these species if encountered while fishing and should submit specimen(s) or photos to a Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries biologist for verification. To reach a regional biologist, call 908-236-2118 (north), 609-223-6076 (central) or 856-629-4950 (south). These non-native species are likely to cause environmental harm to the state’s fisheries resources by outcompeting preferred game fish species. Common carp are an invasive species but are NOT classified as a potentially dangerous fish and do not have to be destroyed.

Sale of Fish

It is illegal to sell any freshwater fish species except under commercial permits as prescribed in the Fish Code. Artificially-propagated trout, if properly tagged, may be sold for food purposes.

Stocking Fish

A permit is required to stock fish or fish eggs into any waters of the state, public or private, at any time. Applications are available online at NJFishandWildlife.com/fishperms.htm or by contacting the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118. It is ILLEGAL to stock carp or koi into any waters. No trout may be used as bait or stocked within the PEQUEST RIVER DRAINAGE except by the Pequest Trout Hatchery.

Tagging Fish

No person may tag or mark and then release a fish without first obtaining a fish stocking permit or by special permit issued by Fish and Wildlife. Contact the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118 for application information.

Waste of Fish

Fish of any species which are purposely killed become part of the angler’s daily limit and must be removed from the waters from which they were taken, then either used or otherwise disposed of properly.

Great Fishing Close to Home App

Looking for a place to fish in the Garden State?

The Great Fishing Close to Home app will help you select from more than 290 lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

Looking to target a particular species? Use the app’s search feature to identify opportunities for various species. For each waterbody, information includes location, size, primary game fish species present, ownership, any special permit requirements, if outboard motors are permitted along with other amenities such as a boat ramp, swimming area, picnic area and camping. You are only a few clicks away from Great Fishing Close to Home. Visit NJFishandWildlife.com.

Accessible Fishing Sites

Wheelchair-accessible Fishing Sites Graphic

For people with disabilities, visit: NJFishandWildlife.com/sites.htm

An Accessible Fishing Sites list is available to assist anglers whose mobility is impaired.

All sites are wheelchair-accessible except for the Musconetcong River in Morris County, where vehicle access is to the shoreline.

Attention: New Jersey Anglers

Register. You make a difference! It’s free, easy and required.

Before heading out to catch your favorite marine fish this year, be sure to join the hundreds of thousands of anglers who have already registered with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program (NJSRRP). Freshwater anglers fishing in tidal freshwater are also required to register with the NJSRRP.

For more information on the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program and to register, visit saltwaterregistry.nj.gov

After registering, become part of the fishery management process!

Submit fishing reports after each saltwater trip to the NJ Volunteer Angler Survey. Your fishing reports can help improve saltwater fishing opportunities in New Jersey.

Submit online reports at NJFishandWildlife.com/marinesurvey.htm

Striped Bass Circle Hook Requirement

To reduce Striped Bass release mortality, non-offset (inline) circle hooks must be used when fishing for Striped Bass with bait in all waters. Bait is defined as any marine or aquatic organism live or dead, whole or parts thereof. This restriction shall not apply to an artificial lure with bait attached. A circle hook is a non-offset hook where the point is pointed perpendicularly back towards the shank. Non-offset means that the point and barb are in the same plane as the shank. Striped Bass caught using an unapproved take method must be immediately returned to the water.

Circle Hook illustrations