FISHING (AND OTHER PUBLIC) ACCESS ON THE HACKENSACK RIVER
THE FRESHWATER UPPER WATERSHED: HEADWATERS TO ORADELL DAM
SUEZ WATERSHED RECREATION PROGRAM – The water rights to the entire upper Hackensack River Watershed are owned by SUEZ Water New York and SUEZ Water New Jersey. However the water companies maintain a longstanding public access program that offers fishing, birding and walking access to those who join their Watershed Recreation Program. The program is open each year from April through November and makes 6,000 acres of woods, wetlands and waterfront to permit holders for reasonable fees. Anglers must have valid New York and/or New Jersey state fishing licenses.
Individuals who are interested in purchasing a Watershed Recreation Program permit can apply online at www.suezwatershed.com. The website also features a downloadable program brochure, which highlights key information on watershed locations at Lake DeForest (NY), Lake Tappan (NY & NJ), Woodcliff Lake and Oradell Reservoir, as well as the types of wildlife that can be observed (and fish that can be caught) throughout the properties. Residents who prefer to receive an application through the mail may call SUEZ at 201-767-9300 X 3208.
CLOSTER – Unique among local nature centers, fishing is permitted at the CLOSTER NATURE CENTER pond. The center is located on Ruckman Road in the borough.
WESTWOOD & RIVER VALE – Located in both boroughs, PASCACK BROOK COUNTY PARK offers trout fishing beginning the first Saturday in April. Other species can also be caught in this upper watershed tributary.
PARAMUS & RIVER EDGE – Another county park shared by two municipalities is popular VAN SAUN COUNTY PARK. While known mostly for its accredited zoological park, picnic areas and playgrounds, Van Saun Mill Brook meanders through the location and is a great spot to introduce young children to fishing. After all, if they get bored, there’s always the zoo & playgrounds.
THE TIDAL / BRACKISH LOWER WATERSHED: ORADELL DAM TO NEWARK BAY
ORADELL – At this time Van Buskirk Island County Park remains undeveloped and essentially unavailable for fishing and other outdoor activities.
RIVER EDGE – KENNETH B. GEORGE PARK on Riverside Way features a boat ramp suitable for launching and recovering canoes, kayaks, rowboats and small boats with outboard motors at high tides ONLY. Further south, HISTORIC NEW BRIDGE LANDING, located at the confluence of the Hackensack River and Van Saun Mill Brook, offers riverside views, fishing from shore and the old bridge and tours of the historic site (call 973-487-1739 for details).
NEW MILFORD – The NEW MILFORD WOODS, located at the end of River Lane, were purchased in 2001 with NJ Green Acres and Bergen County Trust Fund grants. The undeveloped park includes a quarter mile of open shoreline and is accessible for fishing, walking & birding.
TEANECK – The HACKENSACK RIVER GREENWAY THROUGH TEANECK is a 3.5-mile linear park running from BRETT PARK, south through the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University to Terhune Park. Nearby ANDREAS PARK features a pond and several fishing spots along the riverbank. Access is from River Road.
IMPORTANT! BE AWARE that the Anderson Street Bridge between Hackensack and Teaneck is the dividing line separating where valid NJ fishing licenses are required, and where they are not. North from the bridge, licenses are required; south from the bridge they are not.
HACKENSACK – HACKENSACK RIVER COUNTY PARK is accessible from The Shops at Riverside and offers opportunities for walking, birding and fishing from the trails, observation areas and fishing docks located there. JOHNSON PARK, located on the river just north of the Anderson St. Bridge, is just a short walk from FOSCHINI PARK, a popular fishing spot and good place to launch a canoe or kayak. Planned to run the length of the Hackensack waterfront, completed sections of the Walkway are located adjacent to COSTCO, PEP BOYS, SHOP RITE and Hackensack DPW along River St. The walkway offers good fishing spots throughout.
RIDGEFIELD PARK – WATERSIDE PARK is located on the river adjacent to the DPW on Industrial Ave. It features a small floating dock from which canoes and kayaks may be launched. This park is the homeport of the Wanda Canoe Club. Good freshwater fishing – especially for yellow perch – can be had at the unit of OVERPECK COUNTY PARK located within the Village.
LEONIA – Here, the least-developed unit of OVERPECK COUNTY PARK, located on both sides of Fort Lee Road, provides plenty of walking and birding opportunities (and some fishing access) along this impounded tributary of the River.
LITTLE FERRY – LOSEN SLOTE PARK, located along a Meadowlands tributary of the Hackensack River, is open year-round for walking and birding and can be accessed behind the playground on Mehrhof Road. INDIAN LAKE, located on Bergen Turnpike, is a popular freshwater fishing spot for carp, panfish and catfish. The Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) maintains MEHRHOF POND, located at the end of Mehrhof Rd. in the borough. In 2018 a new waterfront park was dedicated there.
CARLSTADT – Just a short distance from the Meadowlands Sports Complex is River Barge Park & Marina, located at 260 Outwater Lane. The venue features a launch ramp for day-use boating access, excellent fishing from the purpose-built dock on the north side of the boat ramp, clean restrooms and picnic areas.
SECAUCUS – MILL CREEK POINT PARK, located at the end of Mill Ridge Rd. offers picnicking, fishing and a place to launch canoes and kayaks. The trailhead of the 1.5-mile MILL CREEK MARSH TRAIL is located adjacent to Bob’s Discount Furniture. Located on the river at Meadowlands Pkwy, the EXTENDED STAY AMERICA HOTEL features a marina and public boat ramp. Nearby Snipes Park offers waterfront fishing access.
LAUREL HILL COUNTY PARK, located on the river at the end of New County Road, offers easy boat access to the SAWMILL CREEK WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA. The park is also home to Riverkeeper’s PADDLING CENTER (201-920-4746) which rents canoes and kayaks on weekends from April thru October, and the HACKENSACK RIVERKEEPER ECO-CRUISE PROGRAM, (201-968-0808) which offers 2½ hour guided naturalist trips on the river and through the marshes of the Meadowlands The park also boasts two floating docks, a day-use boat ramp (NOTE: 24 feet MAXIMUM allowable boat length), and a 400-foot waterfront promenade available for fishing.
LYNDHURST – Located at the end of Valley Brook Avenue, the headquarters of the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) features the MEADOWLANDS ENVIRONMENT CENTER and RICHARD W. DEKORTE PARK. Several miles of trails wind around the Kingsland Impoundment and though various marsh and upland habitats for hiking and wildlife viewing. From here you can access the western section of the SAWMILL CREEK WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA via the MEADOWS PATH. The birding is excellent but fishing and boating are prohibited at DeKorte.
NORTH ARLINGTON – HARRIER MEADOW, a cooperative marsh habitat restoration project between the NJMC and DUCKS UNLIMITED is open for tours given by NJSEA ENVIRONMENT CENTER staff. Call 201-460-8300 for details.
KEARNY – From the GUNNEL OVAL RECREATION AREA off Schuyler Avenue, people can access WEST KEARNY MARSH, a rare freshwater wetland within the typically brackish Meadowlands, for paddling and fishing. The NJSEA and local paddling clubs often sponsor canoe trips through the marsh.
BAYONNE – While actually on Newark Bay, the City of Bayonne offers the closest thing to true saltwater fishing in our watershed. RUTKOWSKI PARK at the northeast corner even features a small beach. Further down the bayshore are GREGG PARK, AHEARN PARK and SIXTEENTH STREET PARK. The last one includes a day-use boat ramp that allows for cruising either up the Hackensack River or into New York Bay and beyond. There is no cost to use the ramp. Call the BAYONNE PARKS DEPT. at 201-858-6070 for additional information.
NOTES ON FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES
1. For the most part, fish caught in the upper watershed are safe to eat. However always be aware of any and all consumption advisories, especially those regarding children and pregnant women. Go to: www.FishSmartEatSmartNJ.org for more information.
2. Despite some recent loosening of advisories on consuming striped bass caught in the lower Hackensack River, Hackensack Riverkeeper recommends not eating any fish caught within the lower watershed.
3. Due to contamination, CRABBING IS ILLEGAL throughout the entire Newark Bay Complex – which includes the Lower Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, Newark Bay, Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull. Violators risk fines upwards of $3,000.
NJ Audubon Society Birding & Wildlife Trails Guides: http://www.njwildlifetrails.org/
NJDEP Freshwater Fishing Digest: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/digfsh.htm
NJDEP Marine Fishing Digest: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/saltwater.htm