The Musconetcong River starts in the northwestern Highlands region of New Jersey. The river flows 42 miles south and west, from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River. Along the way to the Delaware River it flows through Lake Musconetcong and then the southeastern side of the Pohatcong Mountain ridge. For the most part the Musconetcong River is 40 or 50 feet wide as it flows through valleys as well as farmlands.
The Musconetcong River, known locally as the “Musky” is often referred to as the best trout fishing waters in New Jersey. This is due in part to the numerous springs that add cool limestone rich water helping to maintain a good pH capable of supporting the aquatic insects necessary in the trout’s diet. It’s a heavily stocked trout stream and there's a good number of holdover trout consisting mostly of brook trout and occasionally a brown trout. The Musky also has populations of wild brook and brown trout as well as the stocked trout. In addition to the Musconetcong River, brown trout can be found in seven of the river's tributaries.
After leaving the lake, it flows under Rt. 206 near the towns of Netcong and Stanhope. This area is heavily stocked and is easily accessible. As the Musconetcong River continues, it passes under I 80 which is another area that is a favorite to fish. Below Saxton Falls the river is about 30 feet wide and filled with pocket water, long runs, deep pools and riffles. This section of the Musconetcong River includes the Stephens State Park area which is located between Saxton Falls and Hackettstown.
As the river enters Hackettstown, it passes through the portion of the Charles O’Hayford hatchery, and then flows under U.S. Route 46 continuing alongside of Hackettstown. This portion of the river is also heavily stocked and again easily to access. When leaving Hackettstown, the river parallels Rt. 57 going west and it changes its character somewhat becoming slower with longer pools, creating the ideal environment for fly fishing. This section has the reputation of being a good trout fishing destination.
After crossing RT. 57 at the Penwell Bridge there is a section designated a Seasonal Trout Conservation Area. This section is 1.2 miles long and ends at the Point Mountain Bridge. This area is clearly marked and patrolled so it enhances the opportunity to land some large holdovers. The regulations governing this portion of the Musconetcong River as well as the stocking points, stocking schedules and other regulations are available at the New Jersey Department of Wildlife.
The last section of the Musconetcong below Beattystown and before Riegelsville, where the rive dumps into the Delaware River, is again heavily stocked but it becomes less accessible due to the private clubs. However, anglers can still find portions of public water where there are good populations of trout. There is access provided via Rt. 627 which runs parallel to the river.
Fishing the Musconetcong River:
Due to the cold waters and the overhanging branches that help to keep the waters cool, the contains, stocked trout, wild trout and holdovers and best of all, the river is very accessible. Dry flies, and nymphs will work well and when the water rises, the streamers will be productive as well. The river is long enough to accommodate the heavy anglers that traffic the river in the spring months. Also, the angling pressure will subside somewhat in the summer starting as early as May.
As with any freestone water, the spring offers the best opportunity to fish. Start with the Blue Quills and the Quill Gordons followed by the Sulphurs and the Light Cahills.
Summer remains good providing that the water does not get too low. Be sure to include some terrestrials in your fly box.
This is a beautiful time to fish the Musky due to the splendor of the fall colors as well as some good remaining hatches.
It is possible to enjoy fishing the Musky even during the winter especially on the warmer days. Streamers and nymphs will be most productive.
Access is readily available for most of the entire length and the best part is that it is just 50 miles from the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. There many access points starting where the Musconetcong flows under 206, and continuing through Saxon Falls, through the Stephens State Park and into Hackettstown.
From Hackettstown, it parallels SR 57 west as far as Port Murray. In this final stretch anglers have the best access as there are several bridges over the river and the stocking often takes place at those bridges.
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