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State DEP Fish and Wildlife biologists discuss plans to restore freshwater fishing at forum

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Posted: Saturday, February 25, 2012 8:07 pm
State DEP Fish and Wildlife biologists discuss plans to restore freshwater fishing at forum By ROB SPAHR, Staff Writer | 0 comments
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Dozens of the state’s popular freshwater fishing spots are still trying to recover from last year’s storm season.
Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, however, said during its annual South Jersey Freshwater Fisheries Forum that this short-term inconvenience would be outweighed in the future by more abundant and better-quality fishing options.

The event was held Saturday at the Batsto Village Visitor Center.
Chris Smith, a fisheries biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife, said Hurricane Irene and other storms at least partially damaged about 70 dams statewide last year.
Stocking of some freshwater water bodies was affected by this; some places, such as the 80-acre Prospertown Lake in Monmouth County, drained last year after the storms contributed to a dam failure.
“There were instances where the dams failed and, as a result, some people may have temporarily lost their honey hole. But this gives us a chance to start from scratch,” said Smith, adding the agency will be now be able to reconstruct the lake’s habitat and put a fish-stocking plan in place to improve the lake’s fish population.
The division says it holds these meetings to “improve communication with the angling public and to solicit public input in shaping freshwater fisheries programs in the future.”
One of the major issues that was discussed was the recent Freshwater Herring Closure that, as of Feb. 16, prohibits the possession, removal, sale or purchase of any alewife or blueback herring from any of South Jersey’s freshwater streams or rivers. And at all of the state’s freshwater lakes — with the exception of a handful in North Jersey — only purchased herring no greater than six inches in length may be processed for up to seven days from the date of purchase, and a detailed receipt must be provided.
Smith said the species has seen a severe decline over the last few decades.
“We’ve tried to put in fish ladders and tried to save the species, but declining water quality, overharvesting, and a striped bass population that is at historically high levels has really sent the species on a downward spiral,” said Smith, who recommended gizzard shad as a possible substitute for anglers who used herring.
Meanwhile, trout stocking has been suspended at Pohatcong Lake in Tuckerton and may be suspended at the Cohansey River in Cumberland County, while their dams are being worked on.
Pat Hamilton, also a biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife, said the agency is trying to build excitement around two local freshwater ponds — Ponderlodge Pond in Lower Township and South Vineland Park Pond in Vineland — by stocking them with trout, including broodstock. Broodstock are mature trout that the agency puts into specific ponds and lakes each year to increase interest and excitement in angling there.
Hamilton said the stocking of the pond at the former Ponderlodge Golf Club, now called the Villas Wildlife Management Area, was suspended until the demolition of unsafe buildings could be completed.
“And we think the South Vineland Park Pond is a good fit for that area,” she said. “We do stock another water body fairly close by, but we will be curtailing some of the stocking of that water body to hopefully to shift the focus to South Vineland, which has a little better access.”
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