Best Freshwater Fishing in NJ: Complete Guide!

Best Freshwater Fishing in NJ

When it comes to fishing, New Jersey has a lot to offer.

Various locations from north to south are excellent for basstrout, catfish and many other fish species.

As a relatively small state, densely populated, NJ is one of those locations where you would not expect such an amazing fishing opportunity.

From wild streams to stocked ponds, the abundance of fish is available, even some trophy size specimens.

If you are interested in freshwater fishing in NJ or planning a trip there, check out the best locations and additional information listed below!

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Where in NJ are best places for freshwater fishing?

There are numerous fishing spots, many of them easily available and ideal for beginners and day trips.

And some of them are appealing to more experienced anglers searching for huge fish.

Among hundreds of possible locations, here we are going to single out some of the most interesting ones that differ in fish species.

Union lake, Millville

This huge reservoir is one of the largest ones in southern NJ. It is a great location for anglers searching for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch and channel catfish.

This lake is a popular location for boat fishing, especially kayaks and canoes. If you prefer fishing from the coast, that is also a possibility.

It is easily accessible by car and that makes it very appealing to anglers, especially those going for a half-day fishing trip.

There is a lot of vegetation in the lake, and that can be a challenge, especially for less experienced.

If you there for bass fishing, try locations around the Dam or Millville ramp.

Raritan River

If you are a passionate trout angler, make sure you visit the Raritan River.

Rainbow, brook and brown trout can be caught there. South branch of this river is an excellent fishing location, where you can test your skills, or learn a new one, such as fly fishing for trout.

Upper parts of south branch are the best location for trout fishing. Water is very clear and the flow is steady. That makes it safe for anglers of all experience levels.

Claremont stretch is a part of the river that is most famous for small brook and brown trout. From Long Valley to Califon, you can find Rainbow trout. There are also the best fly-fishing spots on the Raritan River.

Lake Waywayanda

This location is excellent for salmon fishing. It is a natural, glacial lake, that offers a bit different fishing experience than numerous reservoirs. It is a part of a state park and surrounded by beautiful nature.

Fishing can be done from both shore and a boat. Except for salmon, anglers can fish for trout too. Surrounding areas are a popular hiking destination, so you can enjoy different activities, especially if staying there for multiple days.

Sometimes, this place can be crowded, so plan ahead. Avoid public holidays and similar days. Waywayanda lake has been stocked with landlocked salmon, as the water is cold and full of oxygen. Those conditions are excellent and many locals are enjoying fishing for salmon on this lake.

Mercer lake

If you are interested in catching bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass or yellow perch, visit Mercer Lake.

This lake is easily accessible and has a very good boat launch ramp. Fishing from the shore is possible around the lake and only electric boat motors can be used.

Regularly stocked with fish, Mercer lake is one of the best locations for bass, panfish, muskies and catfish fishing. Night fishing is also available and popular on this location.

There is one downside however. Mercer lake is used for rowing competitions and sometimes private boat access is limited.

Greenwood lake

This is probably one of the best bass fishing locations.

This very large reservoir is a perfect fishing place with a long history, and popular among local anglers. Greenwood lake has a diverse shoreline and three small islands. Fishing can be done from those islands, which is a great idea in early season.

One of those three islands, the Fox island is excellent for smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing. The only downside is a bit higher number of very loud motorboats that can ruin your experience. Luckily, due to its size, you can always find a secluded, quiet spot for yourself.

The lake is easily accessible and that, together with other advantages makes it one of the best locations for freshwater fishing in NJ.

Lake Hopatcong

This is the largest freshwater lake in NJ, ideal for fishing.

There are a few islands in this lake, and it is perfect for yellow perch, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass and trout fishing.

Approximately 4 square miles of water surface offers great micro-locations, ideal for certain fish species.

Lake is surrounded by beautiful nature and easily accessible. It is one of the most popular locations for freshwater fishing in NJ, for both locals and tourists.

Lake Hopatcong is sometimes stacked with different fish species in order to sustain the population.

Lake Nummy

This relatively small lake is the best location for beginners or families.

Except for amazing fishing opportunities, this lake offers campsites, small boats with electric trolling motors and picnic areas. It is surrounded by pristine forest and ideal for a weekend getaway. Among fish species that are possible to catch are largemouth bass, chain pickerel and catfish.

If you are fishing with kids, there is a playground available too.

What kind of fish can You catch in NJ?

There is a variety of fish species in NJ waters. Most of them are common, and majority of anglers, even beginners, can recognize them.

And knowing how to recognize different species is important when fishing with basic gear in a location where you can catch different species, in order to obey rules and regulations given by the state.

Except for that, variety of fish species provides a selectin of locations and fish to catch, so NJ has something to offer even to the most demanding anglers.

Some of the most popular fish species for freshwater fishing in NJ are:

Smallmouth bass – Delaware river, Round Valley Reservoir and Raritan river are some of the locations (except those mentioned in the previous chapter) where we can find smallmouth bass.
Largemouth bass – Fishing for largemouth bass can be done in numerous locations and some of them are Lake Hopatcong and Monksville Reservoir.
Channel catfish – Union Lake and Spruce Run Reservoir are good places for channel catfish fishing.
Black crappie – Assunpink and Lenape Lakes are some of the best black crappie fishing locations.
Redbreast sunfish – Try fishing for sunfish in Delaware River and Ryker Lake.
Yellow perch – It can be found in various places, such as Greenwood lake, Lake Hopatcong and Lake Lenape.
Landlocked Salmon – Colder lakes like Waywayanda, Aeroflex and Tilcon are great for salmon fishing.
Muskellunge – Delaware river and Greenwood lake are the best locations for muskellunge fishing.
Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout – Trout can be found in Raritan River, Round Valley or Merrill Creek reservoirs.
Chain pickerel –most commonly found in Swartswood Lake, Lake Hopatcong, Cranberry Lake and Lake Lenape.

These fish species are very attractive to many anglers visiting NJ. Most of the locations mentioned are easily accessible and suited for majority of anglers, regardless of age and experience level.

Best Freshwater Fishing in NJ - trout

Is a fishing license required in NJ?

Fishing licence is required for fishing in NJ.

But before listing the details about it, there are some good news!

On certain dates you can fish without a licence!

It may be a bit crowded on those dates but that is the ideal opportunity for beginners or families to enjoy the fishing experience, free of charge.

Any other day, you will need a licence. It can be easily obtained online, and make sure you read all the rules and regulations carefully.

Licence is mandatory for everyone over the age of 16, and if fishing for trout, additional stamps are required. Licences are valid from date of purchase until the end of year. Prices vary, from about 20 dollars and up. Also, senior citizens, over the age of 70, do not need a licence.

Keep in mind that every state in the US has different fishing rules, so do not expect NJ to have the same ones as the place where you usually fish.

There are certain discounts and “buddy” systems, where two or more anglers buying a licence can get a discount. Residents have different licences than visitors.

After purchasing a licence, you must have it with you, in case the authorities ask for it.

Make sure you also have a photo ID with you.

Can You fish at night in NJ?

Night fishing in NJ is regulated and not available on all fishing locations. And in those locations where night fishing is allowed, it is allowed in certain seasons.

If you are considering night fishing in NJ make sure you check the rules for a certain location.

Some reservoirs allow night fishing in order to attract tourists, and that is usually during summer months. There is no state regulation that covers all locations. Also, public locations can have different rules than privately owned ponds.

Some state parks, like Hopatcong allow night fishing too. If you are not able to find the exact information, try to contact local fishing authorities to get the information prior to your fishing trip.

READ MORE: Saltwater Fishing Regulations in Florida (+Bonus: Best Tips)

Best Freshwater Fishing in NJ - Night Fishing

Conclusion

Freshwater fishing in NJ is very popular and well organised.

Hundreds of ponds, lakes, reservoirs and rivers are a home to numerous fish species. Equally challenging for beginners and experienced anglers, some of those locations are excellent for catching very large specimens.

Most of the locations, especially those mentioned here are easily accessible and safe, which makes it great for a family vacation too. Some of the locations offer boat renting possibilities so the best thing is to ask around and plan the best possible fishing adventure.

Before going fishing in NJ, make sure you obtain a licence and follow all the rules and regulations.

Base camp for fishing enthusiasts.