The South Branch of the Raritan, in Northwestern New
Jersey, is an outstanding river with good hatches and
an abundance of good-sized trout. Flowing from Bud Lake,
the river stretches for more than 40 miles to the town
of South Branch, where it meets the North Branch of the
Raritan. Almost year round, the cool, adequate flows
from Bud Lake help provide an outstanding holdover population
of rainbow and brown trout.
The headwaters of the South Branch, from Bud Lake
down to Long Valley, are moderate in size. This stretch
of water averages 30- to 40-feet wide and has tight,
overhanging trees, crashing pocket water, and beautiful
deep pools that help provide shade and comfort for
the trout here. You'll also find brook trout in this
part of the river. The access up here is somewhat limited--just
abide by the posted signs and you'll find some good
areas to park and fish.
From Long Valley to High Bridge, more of the river
is open to the public, and there are miles of great
fishing. This entire stretch, with tumbling pocket
water and swift deep pools, is well stocked all the
way to South Branch.
You'll find many large holdover fish, especially around
the Ken Lockwood Gorge. This beautiful area, located
in Califon, is a 2.5-mile stretch of Year
Round Trout Conservation Regulations started in 2002. There
is also a Year Round Trout Conservation in Morris County.
The regulations here call for a one-fish limit exceeding
15 inches. Catch-and-release fishing is common and
it keeps this section full of holdover trout in the
12- to 16-inch class.
CLICK FOR MAP
The water below Ken Lockwood Gorge to High Bridge has
an abundant population of trout, and quality water. The
lower end of the river is below High Bridge, where the
fishing remains good all the way to the town of South
Branch. This area also is well stocked, and provides
outstanding fishing, especially early in the season,
until about late-June. This stretch of river has good
pocket water, runs, and pools. You'll find a few areas
posted, but access is still available for you to stop
and wet a line. It's fairly easy to access the South
Branch of the Raritan. There are a few major roads that
either follow or cross its path. Route 46 crosses the
river just south of Bud Lake, where the South Branch
originates. And south of High Bridge, Route 78 crosses
the river. From Long Valley to High Bridge, Route 513
follows the river, providing easy access. Many secondary
roads follow the river as well, giving anglers easy paths
to its banks. All along the way, keep your eyes open
for non-posted land and parking areas.
For a New Jersey river, hatches on the South Branch
of the Raritan are outstanding, and they offer great
dry-fly fishing in its fabulous pools and pocket water.
Hendricksons, Blue Quills, Cahills, Sulphurs, Isonycias,
Blue-Winged Olives, and Little Yellow Stoneflies are
a few of the hatches you'll find here. Evenings throughout
the spring and summer can produce great dry-fly action.
The best daytime fishing is done with nymphs throughout
the pockets, and streamers in high-water conditions.
You'll also notice an abundance of Terrestrials and
Midges that can produce well too. The South Branch
of the Raritan River offers anglers a great fishing
experience. The waters throughout the river, including
Ken Lockwood Gorge, are beautiful -and they're just
30 to 50 miles from New York City. The next time you're
in the area, stop by and enjoy the fishing experience
the South Branch of the Raritan offers--you'll be glad