Round Valley Trout Association, with its client, Musky Trout Hatchery, of Asbury, New Jersey, by the Musconetcong River, stocked Round Valley Reservoir this morning with an as yet relatively small undisclosed number of big rainbow trout as large as four or five pounds, a hundred golden trout less than legal size, and 200 brown trout also less than legal size. The same number of browns got stocked last year. Last year's bear an RVTA6 jaw tag; this year's--RVTA7.
Especially the brown trout we want released, since the idea is to witness them grow to trophy sizes of eight pounds or more. The current state record brown trout of 21 pounds, six ounces got caught in the reservoir in 1995. Since then, brown trout's chief forage is missing. The alewife herring population is now virtually non-existent or altogether gone, due to the thinning out of the reservoir's fertility, as well as relative lack of weedbeds which herring depend upon for reproduction, apparently. However, at present the record low water level results in thick vegetation growth along shorelines. When the water comes back up, we hope in three to five years, accumulated vegetation in decay will spike the water fertility, such as happened in the early 1990's, conditions combined with the pumping of more fertile South Branch Raritan water into the reservoir. That water, reportedly, is no longer as fertile as was more than a decade ago, so our proposition is a iffy, although club members don't know of the exact difference in river fertility and what the difference will mean. If alewife herring get re-introduced, there may be another renaissance of trout fishing here, with trophy fish abundant for a few years. And these brown trout we've stocked now and last year, some of them will surely remain in the reservoir five years out.
Member turnout more than I had expected, as Musky Trout Hatchery's truck drove onto gravel at about 9:00 a.m., boats seemed to suddenly arrive from nowhere, since I hadn't noticed them coming from parts unknown on the reservoir. Naturally, the guys got on early and had fished for hours. Now four or five boats began serving a mission that benefits everyone who uses Round Valley Recreation Area, since a thriving fishery is at the heart of this crystal-clear water everyone admires. Some of the guys, including a boy about 11-years-old, carried nets of trout from the truck to the boats, which roared off powered by 9.9 horsepower. The motor power seemed a lot more than that this morning, as the force behind the effort is moved by a lot more moral motivation than the typical feeling about a little engine. A boat would disappear into distance very quickly as water-filled coolers in another got loaded with trout, and just as the two coolers had filled, another boat could be seen coming in at closing distance. A small crowd of onlookers developed, shooting pictures with mobile devices, but more than this; they really got a load through eyeballs.
Cold weather deterred no one. I wished at first I had brought my wool cap, but once action got underway, I never noticed the chill, driven hard into us all by a stiff breeze coming off the water from the east. I stepped into water over my hiking boots to get closer shots with my Nikon. Didn't care, and didn't feel it. Overcast sky, cold, wind. Instead of any disfavor, the conditions served the will behind the effort, overcoming any resistance of things all too settled in that clear water.