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2004 Skillful Angler Awards Winners

The Skillful Angler Awards Program honors the many anglers who catch both freshwater and marine fish which aren't of record size but are impressive and worthy of recognition. At the end of each year, special recognition is given to the anglers who caught the largest fish in each of the freshwater and marine species categories.

In 2004, 91 applications representing 24 different species were officially processed.

INTERESTING FACTS:

The most frequently entered species by skillful anglers in 2004 (adult, junior, and catch and release categories combined) were largemouth bass, muskellunge, chain pickerel, striped bass (caught in saltwater) and tautog with 10, 8, 8, 10 and 7 entries received, respectively.

The following is a breakdown of applications received per species: largemouth bass (10), smallmouth bass (2), striped bass hybrid (3), striped bass caught in freshwater (2), bullhead (2), channel catfish (3), crappie (5), muskellunge (8), yellow perch (4), chain pickerel (8), northern pike (1), brook trout (1), brown trout (3), rainbow trout (5), sunfish (1), walleye (4), black sea bass (1), striped bass caught in saltwater (10), black drum (1), winter flounder (3), fluke (3), kingfish (1), tautog (7) and weakfish (3).

In 2004, no entries were received for the carp, shad, lake trout, bluefish, cod, dolphin, white marlin, blue marlin, pollock, mako shark, albacore tuna, big eye tuna, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and tuna (other) categories.

This year, the catch and release category for crappie is tied. The winning entries measured 14 inches each. One of the winners, young Daniel Petitte, is the grandson of 1996 chain pickerel category winner Daniel Pettite!

Gary Kreckie of Howell is winner of both the adult brown and adult rainbow trout categories. He was also the brown trout category winner in 2003.

Chester Urbanski of Lambertville, winner of the adult kingfish category, is also the new state record holder for kingfish. His fish weighed 2 ounces more than the previous record taken from the surf at Margate Beach in October of 2003.

Victor Mazza of Hampton is the dual winner of the catch and release striped bass hybrid and northern pike categories.

Tyler Wackermann is the dual winner of the junior largemouth and smallmouth bass categories. Tyler's dad Bill was the category winner for lake trout in 1996 and 1997, and for smallmouth bass in 1998!

Bob Eisele, winner of the adult black sea bass category, is an all-around sportsman. He received honors in 1995 and 1996 for wild turkeys entered in the Outstanding Garden State Gobbler Program.

Young Bobby Capri captured national media attention when he landed his junior category winning 52 pound, 8 ounce striper - from a kayak!

This year, 25 adults and 14 youths were honored for the largest catches in each of the skillful angler species categories.

Overall, more freshwater catches (62) were entered than saltwater (29).

The 2004 Skillful Angler Winners are as follows:

ADULT CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 7 lbs, 3 ozs caught by David Deans of Hewitt on July 25. David was fishing from a boat on Upper Greenwood Lake when he reeled the fish in at 10:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Graphite rod and a Baitcaster reel. The lure was a Zoom Junebug. The fish measured 23 inches in length with a 16-inch girth.

Bullhead - 2 lbs, 5 ozs caught by Louis Talbot of Browns Mills on April 29. Louis was fishing from the shore of Mirror Lake in Browns Mills when he landed the fish at 3 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a 5-foot rod and a spinning reel. The bait was a night crawler. The fish measured 15 3/8 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Channel Catfish - 10 lbs caught by James Flynn of Phillipsburg on June 22. James was night fishing the Delaware River by boat when he landed the fish. Twenty-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and a Penn reel. A night crawler served as bait. The fish measured 26 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

Crappie - 3 lbs, 2 ozs caught by William Lewis of Jackson on April 21. William was fishing from a boat on Mercer Lake when he landed the fish at 9:30 a.m. Four-pound test was used with a St. Croix rod and a Shimano reel. A Twister Grub served as the lure. The fish measured 18 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Muskellunge - 23 lbs, 7 ozs caught by Mike Viggiano of Linden on February 1. Mike was ice fishing at Monksville Reservoir when he caught the fish at 9 a.m. Twenty-pound test was used with a tip up. A large shiner served for bait. The fish measured 45 inches in length with a 19-inch girth.

Yellow Perch - 1 lb, 8 ozs caught by Michael Rinaldi of North Haledon on January 25. Michael was ice fishing at Greenwood Lake when he landed the fish at 11:45 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a St. Croix rod and a Shimano reel. A Rapala lure served as the bait. The fish measured 15 inches in length with a 10-inch girth.

Chain Pickerel - 6 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Barry Ott of North Plainfield on February 21. Barry was ice fishing at Lake Aeroflex when he landed the fish at 3:15 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a tip up. A minnow served for bait. The fish measured 27 3/8 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Brown Trout - 10 lbs, 5 ozs caught by Gary Kreckie of Howell on May 22. Gary was wading in the Musconetcong River in Asbury when he hooked the fish at 11 a.m. Four-pound test was used with an XPS Graphite rod and a Daiwa reel. A fathead minnow served as bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

Rainbow Trout - 9 lbs, 14 ozs caught by Gary Kreckie of Howell on May 12. Gary was wading in the Trout Conservation Area of the Pequest River when he landed the fish at 10 a.m. Four-pound test was used with an XPS Graphite rod and a Daiwa reel. Mike's Chartreuse Glow Eggs served for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

Walleye - 9 lbs, 12 ozs caught by Clint Myers of Paterson on November 28. Clint was fishing from a boat in Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 1:30 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring served as bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

ADULT CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass - 4 lbs, 11 ozs caught by Bob Eisele of Leesburg on May 6. Bob was fishing off the Cape May Ferry Jetty when he reeled the fish in at 10:15 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Cabela's rod and reel. A mix of clam and worms served for bait. The fish measured 19 inches in length with a 15-inch girth.

Striped Bass - 55 lbs, 7 ozs caught by Gary Rzemyk of Ventnor City on July 6. Gary was surf fishing at Long Beach Island when he hooked the fish at 1 p.m. Twenty-pound test line was used with a G-Loomis rod and a Daiwa reel. Live bunker served as bait. The fish measured 47 inches in length with a 30-inch girth.

Black Drum - 73 lbs caught by Sandra McCarthy of Sinking Spring, PA on May 30. Sandra was fishing from a boat in Delaware Bay when she reeled the fish in at 10:30 p.m. Thirty-pound test line was used with a Chaos rod and a TLD reel. Surf clams were used for bait. The fish measured 51 inches in length with a 35-inch girth.

Winter Flounder - 4 lbs caught by Joseph Czech of Edison on May 5. Joseph was fishing from a boat off Sandy Hook when he caught the fish at 10 a.m. Twenty-pound test was used with a bait casting rod and reel. A combination of clams and sandworms served as bait. The fish measured 19 inches in length.

Fluke - 10 lbs, 1 oz caught by Paul McEvoy of Brick on September 16. Paul was fishing from a boat off Sandy Hook when he landed the fish at 10 a.m. Twenty-pound test was used with a Berkeley rod and a Penn reel. A killie served for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length.

*Kingfish - 2 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Chester Urbanski of Lambertville on September 22. Chester was fishing from his boat in Barnegat Bay when he landed the fish at 11 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with an Eagle Claw rod and a Penn reel. A squid strip was used for bait. The fish measured 18 inches in length with a 10-inch girth. This fish is the current state record.

Tautog - 13 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Pete Ahrens of Furlong, PA on April 30. Pete was fishing from a boat off Barnegat Light when he reeled the fish in at 1 p.m. Forty-pound test was used with a Penn rod and reel. Crabs served for bait. The fish measured 27 inches in length with a 19-inch girth.

Weakfish - 12 lbs, 5 ozs caught by Robert Kranefeld of Pennsauken on May 29. Robert was fishing from the sod banks of Rainbow Channel in Ocean City when he landed the fish at 4:20 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a G Loomis rod and a VS reel. A Black Mambo Minnow lure served for bait. The fish was 32 inches in length with a 20-inch girth.

* denotes state record

JUNIOR CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 6 lbs caught by 10-year-old Tyler Wackermann of Stewartsville on July 24. Tyler was fishing from a boat at Merrill Creek Reservoir when he reeled the fish in at 9 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with an Eagle Claw rod and a Garcia reel. A Rapala lure served as bait. The fish measured 22 inches in length with a 15-inch girth.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 10 lbs caught by 7-year-old Tara Peary of Howell on July 24. Tara was on a boat in the Manasquan Reservoir when she caught the fish at 7:30 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A worm served for bait. The fish measured 27 inches in length with a 20-inch girth.

Smallmouth Bass - 4 lbs, 1 1/8 ozs caught by 10-year-old Tyler Wackermann of Stewartsville on July 31. Tyler was fishing from a boat at Merrill Creek Reservoir when he reeled the fish in at 10 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a BPS rod and a Garcia reel. A Smithwick lure served for bait. The fish measured 20 inches in length with a 15-inch girth.

Channel Catfish - 12 lbs, 5 ozs caught by 11-year-old Patrick Gabriel of Parlin on September 3. Patrick was fishing from the shore at Holmdel Park Pond when he landed the fish at 12:30 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and reel. A night crawler served as bait. The fish measured 32 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

Muskellunge - 25 lbs, 12 ozs caught by 13-year-old Nick Zemlachenko of Flemington on July 3. Nick was fishing from a boat at Monksville Reservoir when he caught the fish at 7:15 a.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and reel. Rapala Crankbait lured the muskie in. The fish measured 46 inches in length with a 19-inch girth.

Yellow Perch - 1 lb, 10 ozs caught by 9-year-old Thomas Fernandez of Hopatcong on January 18. Thomas was ice fishing at Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish. Shiners served for bait. The fish measured 14 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Chain Pickerel - 4 lbs caught by 7-year-old Eddie Hicks of Turnersville on September 12. Eddie was fishing from a boat on Malaga Lake when he landed the fish at 9:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A minnow served for bait. The fish measured 25 inches in length with an 11 -inch girth.

Brook Trout - 3 lbs, 6 ozs caught by 14-year-old Eddie Mackin of Lake Hopatcong on April 14. Eddie was fishing from a boat in Lake Hopatcong when he hooked the fish at 5 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. The lure was a spinner. The fish measured 18 inches in length with a 12-inch girth.

Brown Trout - 7 lbs, 6 ozs caught by 12-year-old Mike Venditti of Bloomsbury on July 26. Mike was fishing from the shore of the Musconetcong River in Bloomsbury when he hooked the fish around noon. Six-pound test was used with a St. Croix rod and a Flugler reel. He used a Panther Martin lure. The fish measured 26 inches in length with a 14 -inch girth.

Rainbow Trout - 5 lbs, 6 ozs caught by 9-year-old Jason Ulchinsky of Branchville on July 4. Jason was fishing from the banks of the Flatbrook in Walpack when he landed the fish at 8:50 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a Berkeley rod and a Daiwa reel. A salted minnow served for bait. The fish measured 21 inches in length with a 14 -inch girth.

Walleye - 5 lbs, 7 ozs caught by 12-year-old Matt Schroeder of Lake Hopatcong on October 1. Matt was fishing from a boat in Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring served for bait. The fish measured 25 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

JUNIOR CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Striped Bass - 52 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 14-year-old Robert Capri of Manahawkin on June 25. Bobby was fishing from his kayak off Surf City when he hooked the fish at 6 p.m. Twelve-pound test line was used with a Lamiglas rod and a Penn reel. Live bunker served as bait. The fish measured 49 inches in length with a 30-inch girth.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 23 inches caught by Jack Saullo of Parsippany on November 20. Jack was fishing from a boat on Big Swartswood Lake when he reeled the fish in at 12:30 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. The lure was a jigging spoon. The girth was 23 inches.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 25 inches caught by Victor Mazza of Hampton on June 17. Victor was fishing from a boat on Spruce Run Reservoir when he landed the fish at 8 a.m. Ten-pound test line was used with a Cabela's rod and a Shimano reel. A herring served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass Caught in Freshwater - 47 inches caught by Joe Tropea of Bridgeport on April 10. Joe was fishing from a boat on the Delaware when he hooked the fish at 4:50 p.m. Seventeen-pound test line was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a Penn reel. An eel served for bait. The girth was 31 inches.

Bullhead - 18 inches caught by 12-year-old Christopher Mikulka of Branchville on February 16. Christopher was ice fishing at Kittatinny Lake when he landed the fish at 8:30 p.m. Twenty-five-pound test line was used with a tip up. The bait was a shiner. Girth was unavailable.

Crappie - 14 inches caught by Jeffrey Clementi of Flanders on August 14. Jeffrey was fishing from a boat on Spruce Run Reservoir when he landed the fish at 10:30 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A shiner served for bait. Girth was unavailable.
and
Crappie - 14 inches caught by nine-year-old Daniel Petitte of Lindenwold on September 19. Daniel was fishing from the shore of School House Lake in Atco when he landed the fish at 7 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a Shimano reel. A minnow served for bait. The girth was 12 inches.

Muskellunge - 52 inches caught by Bill Kunecz of Milford, PA on May 15. Bill was fishing from a boat on Greenwood Lake when he caught the fish at 9 a.m. Eighty-pound test was used with a six-foot rod and a casting reel. A Bucktail was the lure. The girth was 21 inches.

Chain Pickerel - 25 inches caught by Robert Gonzalez of Mauricetown on March 31. Robert was fishing from the banks of the Tuckahoe River when he landed the fish at 11:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a light action rod and a spinning reel. A minnow lure served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Northern Pike - 34 inches caught by Victor Mazza of Hampton on April 9. Victor was fishing from the shore of Spruce Run Reservoir when he hooked the fish at 11 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Bass Pro rod and a Penn reel. A shiner served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Sunfish - 9 inches caught by 7-year-old Hannah Moyna of Blairstown on August 8. Hannah was fishing from the shore of a farm pond in Hardwick when she hooked the fish at 7:30 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a Shakespeare fly rod and reel. A dry fly served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Rainbow Trout - 24 inches caught by Rafael Tassitano of Scotch Plains on October 22. Rafael was fishing from the shore of the Musconetcong River at Stephens State Park when he landed the fish at 3:40 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A Roostertail Spinner served as the lure. Girth was unavailable.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Striped Bass - 48 inches caught by Robert Everett of Broomall, PA on October 26. Robert was fishing from a boat in Delaware Bay when he hooked the fish at noon. Fifty-pound test line was used with a Bass Pro rod and a Daiwa reel. Bunker served for bait. The girth was 26 inches.

Congratulations to all of our winners!
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Last Updated: February 22, 2005