††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††January 10, 2005
Dear Friend of Lake Hopatcong,
†††† Since 1946, the Knee Deep Club of Lake Hopatcong has been protecting, preserving and enhancing the natural resources of New Jersey's largest lake. Over the years, more than a half million fish have been stocked into Lake Hopatcongs' waters by the Knee Deep Club, including $15,000 to $20,000 per year in Trout stocking. We have held lake clean-ups, improved the fish habitat, and many times, worked with the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife to help manage the lake''s fishery. We even introduced the legislation to create the Lake Hopatcong Commission, which works everyday for the benefit of preserving this great natural resource. Now, with two of the four towns that surround the lake hooked up to sewers, and the Borough of Hopatcong's sewer project in progress, the lake's water quality continues to improve. †
††† The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife has recently introduced their 2006, draft plan, for stocking the State's waters with the 575,000 Trout that they produce at the Pequest Hatchery, of which our lake has traditionally received approximately 10,000. Their proposal suggests the total elimination of Lake Hopatcong from their stocking program. Obviously the Knee Deep Club is strongly opposed to this proposal and is lobbying heavily to overturn their proposal, as it relates to our lake. Not only would this have a detrimental impact to the lake's local economy, but their justification for this is utter rubbish, and can be directed at just about any lake or stream in the state. New Jersey does not have many waters that can maintain a year-round Trout population, although, here on Lake Hopatcong, there have been studies done by independent water management firms, that indicate the our lake does have suitable Trout habitat. †††††
On January 5, 2005, I, along with Lou Marcucci, Tim Clancy, Bill Weideman and Bill Clark, met with Pat Hamilton, Lisa Barno and Dave Chanda of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Jeannette Vreeland of the Fish and Game Council to discuss the Division's Proposal. The meeting did not end with them withdrawing their proposal, but they did acknowledge our concerns and the importance of trout fishing at Lake Hopatcong. You must contact Lisa Barno at the Division of Fish and Wildlife to voice your opposition to their proposal. She can be reached at Lisa.Barno@dep.state.nj.us or (609) 292-8642. Please leave a message if she is not in.
††† Please help us, by letting the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife know that the State's largest lake should not be eliminated from Trout stocking in 2006, or ever. Please, e-mail, call, or write them with your voice of opposition.
Thank you in advance for your support.
Knee Deep Club
Written by Lou Marcucci
In 1998 the Division of Fish & Wildlife proposed to reduce the number of Trout they stocked in Lake Hopatcong. The Knee Deep Club also opposed this proposal. In 1998 at a meeting with Division officials and the Fish & Game Council the club presented clear and irrefutable evidence of a holdover trout fishery. We also submitted several years of comprehensive water quality data gathered at eleven different monitoring stations throughout the lake during open water. This data showed suitable Trout habitat existed even during the critical hot summer months. We also pointed out that over $30 million had recently been spent on water quality projects, including the removal of 3,500 septic systems from the watershed. Based on the information the Division reversed its plans.
After all this we cannot believe the Division is now proposing total elimination of trout at Lake Hopatcong. What has changed at the lake since 1998? Another $65 million has been spent on water quality improvement projects, including the removal of another 2,900 septic systems from the watershed, the purchase and preservation of the largest tract of undeveloped land on the lake, over 300 acres which doubles public access for shoreline fishing, the establishment of the Lake Hopatcong Commission.
Presently, Lake Hopatcong receives less trout per acre than any other body of water in the state. If trout are taken from Lake Hopatcong they will be placed in bodies of water with similar or even worse water quality. If trout are eliminated this will have a tremendous negative economic impact to local businesses. The Divisions own cash flow will be negatively impacted. Our research shows $160,000 in license sales at the three Knee Deep Club sponsors on and around the lake including $3,400 in trout stamps. Also a vast majority of Wallop/Breaux Fish Restoration monies are generated at Lake Hopatcong, more than any other fresh water body in the state. Simply based on our known fleet of boats we are the single largest contributor. There is no other body of water nearby that Lake Hopatcong anglers can launch their boats to fish for trout. During the trout season our streams and rivers are already over crowed, could you image what they would be like if there were an additional 1000 or so anglers there who normally fish the large lakes the Division plans to eliminate.
The Knee Deep Club's original charter called for the club "To protect preserve and promote the natural resources of Lake Hopatcong". Over the years that mission evolved into a much more dynamic fisheries management plan. Our goal is to develop and maintain a diverse, multi tiered (cold, cool & warm water) year round fishery. Trout is one o the most important parts of that broad mosaic, in that it fills the void that would exist in the early spring when the lake is too cold for the other popular fishing opportunities. The club has worked hard and been successful in the developmental part of our mission and now we concentrate on the maintenance aspect. We stock between $25,000 and $30,000 of privately stocked fish every year. Remember this is a Public lake that we stock. More than half of those monies go into our own spring trout stockings. Would we make that kind of investment if we didn't realize a good return? Everything that makes Lake Hopatcong a unique, and we feel the best, fishing destination in the state were initiated by the Knee Deep Club. In the early 50's we introduced trout to the lake, in 1984 hybrid striped bass, in 1994 walleye and 1996 Muskies. Sometimes it took awhile for F & W to recognize our successes but eventually they took notice and began stocking these fish themselves. We are here and know what works for our lake and we've proven for over 58 years. We contest some of the findings F & W, particularly their view on trout habitat and their view on catch rates. In view of what is going on politically today as it relates to wild life management we didn't think it would be in anyone's interest to present our case at a public forum so we will meet with them in the near future at a special meeting. But can anyone believe that we would stock over 2,500 trout annually if we were only seeing 100 fish caught? And to compare us to Round Valley is not fair. We don't claim to have the trout fishery that they have there, but what would happen to their tag returns if anglers had to get in their cars and drive up to ten miles to drop off tags. At the Valley there's one way in and you can't fish it without going past their tag station. As to the popularity of trout fishing at Lake Hopatcong, why is it always the most popular of all our single specie contests we hold each year? Even if you include our three annual multi specie contests only the ice-fishing contest draws more participants. If they wanted accurate catch rates they should come to the lake during our trout contest where more trout are caught in a single day then their studies suggests are caught in an entire year. We invite you to be our guest this May and see for yourself the amount of anglers fishing for and catching trout and how important it is to the local economy.
Again, please help us by letting the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife know that the stateís largest lake should not be eliminated from Trout stocking in 2006, or ever, by contacting the Divisionís personnel listed on this link (click here). Please, e-mail, call, or write them with your voice of opposition.