MOUNT ARLINGTON – Close to 40,000 fingerlings from the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery were floated into Lake Hopatcong Tuesday, part of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife’s continuing effort to keep the state’s fresh water lakes, ponds and rivers full of fish.
According to Ryan Votta, a senior wildlife worker at the state-run hatchery, three species of fish were stocked in the lake Tuesday; 30,000 four-inch hybrid
stripped bass, 8,000 three- to four-inch walleye, and 1,000 five- to six-inch muskies.
“All the anglers seem real happy with the return on the number (of fish) that we are stocking,” said Votta, adding that more muskies and channel catfish will be stocked in the fall.
Rich Boornazian, assistant commissioner of natural and historic resources with the DEP, was on hand to observe the operation.
“It’s important for the crew to see me out here and to recognize their work,” said Boornazian. “They do incredible work for the state.”
Volunteers from the Knee Deep Club were on hand to assist the half dozen hatchery staff. Using two state-owned jon boats and two pontoon boats provided by Knee Deep Club members, the group spent most of the morning shuttling fish from the dock at Lee’s Park Marina to various locations around the lake.
“We’ve hit Sharp’s Rock, Bertrand Island, River Styx—all the weed beds,” said Don Gardner, a Knee Deep trustee. “Basically we’re putting them where they’ll be protected.”
Hackettstown Fish Hatchery, located on the banks of the Musconetcong River in the township, is a warm and cool water hatchery that raises 15 different species of fish and has been in operation since 1912, said Votta.
“The entire effort promotes our agenda of outdoor recreation,” said Boornazian of the state’s fish stocking program.