Anglers of all ages gathered at Dow's Live Bait in Lake Hopatcong as the Knee Deep Club stocked Lake Hopatcong with more than 1,500 trout on Sunday morning, a week ahead of the start of trout season in New Jersey. "There's something almost mystical about trout," says Tim Clancy of the Knee Deep Club. "For one thing, they're beautiful, and they require more pristine conditions than other types of fish. And so many people have stories of first fishing with their father or grandfather for trout. The start of trout season is a lot like opening day for baseball. Some people go to Yankee Stadium for opening day in baseball, we get out on the water for opening day of trout season." The club funded the stocking of 1,500 trout that are more than 13 inches in length, weighing about 1 pound each, plus an additional 100 fish of 2 to 5 pounds. The fish came from Musky Trout Hatchery in Asbury, which donated an additional trophy fish of about 10 pounds. It was a smaller stocking than in past years, in part because of reduced income when the two ice-fishing contests had to be canceled due to lack of ice cover on Lake Hopatcong over the winter. The fish were transported from a Musky Trout Hatchery truck in plastic bins to larger bins on various boats, which then went out to different corners of the lake for release. Members of the Knee Deep Club were joined by local residents and their families. Fred Steinbaum of Hopatcong brought his five-year-old grandson, Spencer Kreitzer, to watch the activity and help release the trout into the water. Myranda Calderio, 10, joined her father, Michael, for her second year of helping with the stocking. The fish will make their way around the lake, and trout season opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 7.
Anglers gather at Dow's Live Bait to watch the fish transported from the hatchery truck into the lake.
Dozens of trout removed from the hatchery truck.
Jeff Mancini of the Musky Trout Hatchery holds a trophy fish, which his hatchery donated to the Knee Deep Club trout stocking.
Most of the fish were in the 13"+ range.
Calderio launches fish into Great Cove.
Myranda Calderio releases trout into Lake Hopatcong.
Spencer Kreitzer, 5, of New York City tries to grab a fish from the tank while his grandfather, Fred Steinbaum, looks on.
Mike and Myranda Calderio release trout into the lake.
Spencer Kreitzer releases trout into Great Cove.
The crowd at Dow's Live Bait in Lake Hopatcong during the trout stocking on Sunday.
Jim Archambault heads to River Styx with his team to release trout.