The Toms River Trout Unlimited Chapter, now out of business, conducted an electro fishing survey in September 1991 at four stations on the Toms River, about 5 months after the spring stocking. The stations were in the River Wood Area, at the bottom end of the Trout Conservation Area, Girl Scout Campground, below Edgemere Road and above route 70 bridge. The survey covered a 150 yard section at each station. The TRTU had stocked 1000, 12 to 13 inch long brook trout in the spring of 1990 and 1991. Fish were given a jaw tag and released in the Trout Conservation Area also known as the special regulation area.

Stocked hatchery trout usually experience rapid weight loss and high mortality soon after release. Researchers have attributed this loss to the inability of hatchery fish to adapt to natural conditions, lack of suitable forage and water temperatures which sap reserves. However condition of the trout recovered from the Toms River, during this survey, is evidence that adequate forage and a suitable physical and chemical environment does exist to sustain trout through the summer period and into the fall. As the Toms River is fed primarily by underground springs, temperature in the summer is only at or above the lethal range for a short time.

The primary purpose of this survey was to determine the fish species composition and relative abundance. Also of interest was the question whether the stream contained a reproduction trout fishery. However no wild trout were collected at the four electro fishing stations and no trout of less than 9 inches was found as a result of the electro shocking. During this period the TRTU chapter was tagging only those Brook trout that they stocked and not the NJ F&W stocking program.

Note: When fishing the Tom’s the 4x4 posts with the round pipe along the river edge were to collect the TRTU stocked tags.

Other fish species collected and their relative abundance in the Toms River included:

American Eel (Anguilla Rostrata) Numerous
Swamp Darter (Etheostoma Fusiforme) Common
Pumpkinseed (Lepomis Gibbosus) Occasional
Chain Pickerel (Esox Niger) Occasional
Creek Chubsucker (Erimyzon Oblongus) Rare

Eels are common to most streams of the Atlantic costal drainage. The swamp darter is abundant in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and has a high tolerance to acid conditions in streams with low dissolved oxygen. Pumpkinseed and Chain Pickerel are typical found in small lakes and sluggish stream with vegetation. The few individuals collected in the Toms River may have escaped from the Pine Lake in Manchester off route 571. Creek chubsuckers prefer the same habit but will also enter brackish water.

At bottom end of the Trout conservation Area, 21 brook trout (3 w/o tags and 19 w tags) were found, only one tagged brook trout was found at the Girl Scout area, Edgemere and above Route 70 bridge. All trout found were hatchery stock. The survival and conditions of the trout in late summer indicated that the water temperature and forage are adequate to support cacheable-size hatchery trout.

Information is based on the report of Electo fishing Survey of Toms River (NJ) 23 September 1992, Aquatic Resources Consulting, Saylorsburg PA