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State Fish Hatchery in Warren County Stocks Record-Setting 5 Million Fish in 2017

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A staff member at the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery holds a northern pike. In 2017, the fishery stocked a record 5 million fish, according to the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. Credits: N.J. Division of Fish & Wildlife
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A fishery staff member handles a net filled with fingerlings at the facility, which is predominantly a “put, grow and take” fish culture operation. Credits: N.J. Division of Fish & Wildlife
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HACKETTSOWN, NJ — The Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery stocked a record 5 million fish representing 15 species in 2017, according to the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.

The fish, totaling 5,082,841 with a total weight of more than 26,000 pounds, were produced at the Warren County facility — far surpassing the previous high of 3,774,885 set in 2014. And most of the fish were stocked in approximately 200 waters throughout the state from March through November of last year.

"This is an incredible achievement by our staff at the hatchery," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.  "Anglers are reporting catching 40-inch Northern pike, 10-pound walleye and 50-inch muskellunge in many of our waters where these species are stocked.  It is through the hatchery's staff and their hard work that New Jersey is a world-class fishing destination for anglers."

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Hackettstown stocked the following cool-water species: 308,808 northern pike, 2.3 million walleye and 343,311 muskellunge. The season also included warm-water species, such as channel catfish at 598,174 stocked, large-mouth bass at110,445 and hybrid striped bass at 47,315. 

Not all the Hackettstown fish stocked are directly available to anglers, however.  County mosquito commissions utilized 548,000 fathead minnows and gambusia (commonly called mosquitofish) to combat mosquito larvae in stagnant waters.

Since 1991, the hatchery has reared more than 5.6 million fish to help combat mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and chikungunya.

In addition, 655,000 golden shiners were stocked in Round Valley Reservoir to help boost the forage base in one of New Jerseys best cold-water fisheries. Some 171,788 fish of other species also were raised in 2017.

Factors that contributed to a great season included the successful collection of broodstock and their eggs, an excellent hatch and extensive on-site pond management. Modern fish diets and nutrition also played important roles, as well as ideal temperatures, sunlight and precipitation for adequate growth, proper health monitoring and avoiding the hazards of overcrowding, according to the DEP.

The Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery opened in 1912 and is predominantly a “put, grow and take” fish culture operation.  This simply means that most of the fish are stocked as sublegal fry and fingerlings that will take a year or more growing in the wild to reach a catchable size. The fish-rearing operation requires a combination of intensive fish culturing both indoors in fiberglass tanks and outdoors in earthen ponds.

"The Hackettstown Hatchery has stocked nearly 20 million cool- and warm-water fish over the past five years," said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty.  "Staff take immense pride in the quality of fish produced at the hatchery and constantly strive to find ways to improve both hatchery operations and the number of fish produced. This is a great way to conclude the celebration of our agency's 125th anniversary and I commend our staff at Hackettstown for a job well done."

Funding for operations at the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery is provided by anglers through fees derived from the purchase of fishing licenses and by the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration program.

More information about the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery, including its history, feature articles, species raised and stocking summaries, can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/hacktown.htm.

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