The Rockaway River, located in Northern New Jersey, is just 30 to 40 miles outside of New York City. It is a true example of a restoration project success story, thanks to several groups’ ongoing efforts to clean up the river. Good hatches and abundant numbers of trout can be found throughout some 30 miles of the river.
The upper portion of the Rockaway River is medium-sized, with good pools, pockets, and runs. Here, it averages 30- to 40-feet wide, and flows through the Berkshire Valley, Wharton, and Dover areas. Routes 699, 15, and 46 all aid in accessing the river. The most productive stretch of the Rockaway is the Wharton to Dover area. You’ll find an abundant supply of trout throughout this area.
The middle section of the river runs through the towns of Denville, Mountain Lakes, and Boonton. This is another good part of the river, offering anglers some very deep pools, and even a couple of areas with waterfalls and large pockets. In the area around Boonton, there’s some excellent water where trout can holdover in the deep, well-oxygenated pools.
Ultimately, the Rockaway flows into the Jersey City Reservoir. Below the reservoir, the trout fishing is not as productive. The lack of sufficient holding water and warm temperatures keep most trout anglers in the upper stretches of the river.
Access to the river can be difficult in some areas. There are a few parks along the way–in Wharton, Denville, and Boonton–where you’ll find parks and places to park as well as fish. There are other access points, too; just follow the secondary roads along the river and look for areas to park. Hatches on the Rockaway are fairly good and are getting better every year. A variety of different Mayflies, Caddis, and Stoneflies hatch at given times. Small Midges, Terrestrials, and all-purpose nymphs also work well. In high water conditions, fishing with nymphs and streamers is your best bet. The best fishing on this river usually is early in the season, although the summer can be productive depending upon weather conditions.
The Rockaway is an excellent New Jersey river, with much potential. The next time you’re around New York City, why not take a ride to the Rockaway River?