JEFFERSON – At 8 am on the first Saturday of every April of every year, Angelo Monzo knows exactly where he will be—at the banks of Russia Brook, about 200 yards from where Russia Road meets Weldon Road in the Oak Ridge section of the township.
He has been fishing this spot on opening day of trout season for close to 50 years and Saturday was no exception. He, along with a dozen other anglers, were lined up along the edge of the babbling brook, quietly casting their lines into the icy water.
Monzo first started coming to the area from Totowa with his father when he was about 10 years old, he said. Now, at 58 and living in Jefferson, Monzo, having lost his dad in 2007, continues the ritual, sometimes with his adult daughter, who on this day was home with her new baby, and sometimes alone.
“This is a tradition—I have to come here on opening day,” he said.
Just upstream from Monzo, Stephanie and Brett Gross from Franklin were

Brett and Stephanie Gross with their catch at Russia Brook.
Brett and Stephanie Gross with their catch at Russia Brook.

catching trout every seven or eight minutes, getting to their limit within 45 minutes of dropping the first line into the water.
“He made us get here by 6 am,” said Stephanie. “He was so excited about opening day he was up at 3:30,” she said of her husband.
Brett said he chose to fish Russia Brook because two years previously he hooked a “giant” 22-inch brook trout from the same location and thought it would be a great place to fish with his wife.
“This is a nice little spot that doesn’t get too crowded,” he said.
Along Berkshire Valley Road where the Rockaway River runs parallel until it bends and runs under the road toward Rt. 15, dozens of cars could be seen parked up and down the road. Fishermen were seeking the
At the head of the Musconetcong River in Landing, one lone fisherman was determined to catch a fish or at least get a nibble.
“There’s fish here,” said Lenny Messner from Cranford who has been fishing on the river for more than 40 years. “I’ve seen them but they’re not feeding—the water is too cold,” he said over the roar of the rushing water making its way south out of Lake Hopatcong.
According to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife, a fishing license and a trout stamp are required to fish for trout for anyone between the ages of 16 and 70. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older can fish for free. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through license agents statewide, found at or purchased online at

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