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2013 Skillful Angler Awards Winners

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Skillful Angler Program. For three decades, the Division has been recognizing anglers who catch fish of "not quite record" size, but large enough to have tested the angler's skill and be worthy of recognition in each of the freshwater and marine species categories.

The Skillful Angler Awards Program, originally designed to supplement the New Jersey State Record Fish Program. In 2014, the program will undergo minor changes including a change in name to the Skillful Angler Recognition Program and a 2 photo requirement. Significant changes will be coming in 2015.

In 1983, the program began with 31 applicants. This year, 133 applications representing 24 different species were officially processed. Since the program's modest beginning, the Division has granted skillful angler status to 3,552 anglers.

INTERESTING FACTS:

The most frequently entered species by skillful anglers in 2013 (adult, junior, and catch and release categories combined) were largemouth bass and rainbow trout with 14 applications each, followed by sunfish with 12 and crappie with 10 applications.

The following is a breakdown of applications (all categories combined) received per species. Freshwater: largemouth bass (14), rainbow trout (14), sunfish (12), crappie (10), walleye (9), muskellunge (8), channel catfish (7), brook trout (6), smallmouth bass (6), chain pickerel (6), striped bass hybrid (5), bullhead (5), yellow perch (5), lake trout (3), carp (2), northern pike (2), and brown trout (1). Saltwater: fluke (4), black sea bass (3), black drum (3), bluefish (3), striped bass caught in saltwater (1), kingfish (1), and mako shark (1).

In 2013, no entries were received for the striped bass caught in freshwater, American shad, Atlantic landlocked salmon, cod, dolphin, winter flounder, blue marlin, white marlin, pollock, tautog, albacore tuna, big eye tuna, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, tuna (other) and weakfish categories.

The Catch and Release category had the most entries with 81 applications, followed by the adult category with 36 applications and the juniors with 15 applications.

12-year-old Bryan Collins won two Junior Skillful Angler categories, Crappie and Walleye.
Christopher Pereira won three Catch and Release categories for a Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Bluefish.
Henry Beurgel won two Catch and Release categories for Yellow Perch and Lake Trout.
Zach Merchant won three Catch and Release categories for Carp, Northern Pike and Rainbow Trout.

The 2013 Skillful Angler Winners are as follows:

ADULT CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Channel Catfish - 17 lbs, 14 oz. caught by Gary Bruzaud of Oak Ridge on September 21. Gary was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 8:30 am. Eight pound test was used with a spinning rod and Penn reel. A worm served as bait. The fish measured 33 inches in length. Girth was unknown.

Crappie - 3 lbs, 5 oz. caught by Bob Tiller of Philadelphia, PA on November 17. Bob was fishing from a boat on Stone Tavern Lake when he landed the fish at 8:15 am. He used a spinning reel. A shiner served for bait. The fish measured 16.5 inches in length. Girth was unknown.

Yellow Perch - 1 lbs, 12 oz. caught by Carl Johansson of Fredon on February 24. Carl was jigging through the ice on Steenykill Lake when he landed the fish. Four pound test was used with an ice jigging rod and spinning reel. A jig served as the lure. The fish measured 14.25 inches in length and had a 10.5-inch girth.

Northern Pike - 13 lbs, 1 oz. caught by Patrick Moy of Millington on September 5. Patrick was fishing from the shore of Spruce Run Reservoir when he landed the fish at 6:40 am. Fifteen pound test was used with a Lamiglass rod and a spinning reel. A yum dinger served as the lure. The fish measured 37.75 inches in length and had a 15.5-inch girth.

Brook Trout - 4 lbs, 10 oz. caught by Chuck Lyons of Blairstown on May 15. Chuck was fishing from the shore of the Paulinskill River when he landed the fish at noon. Four pound test was used with a Daiwa rod and reel. A meal worm was the bait. The fish measured 21 inches in length with a 13-inch girth.

Lake Trout - 18 lbs, 12 oz. caught by Shawn Dornblasser of Phillipsburg on April 6. Shawn was in a boat on Merrill Creek Reservoir when he landed the fish at 10:00 am. Ten pound test was used with a Daiwa rod and reel. A nightcrawler was the bait. The fish measured 35.75 inches in length and had a 19-inch girth.

Rainbow Trout - 10 lbs, 3 oz. caught by Chris Anderson of Wantage on May 19. Chris was on the shore of the Flatbrook River when he landed the fish at 9:40 am. Four pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a GuidSearS reel. A meal worm was the bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length and had a 17-inch girth.

Walleye - 8 lbs, 6 oz. caught by Lou Marcucci of Landing on June 23. Lou was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish. Eight pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring was the bait. The fish measured 28.5 inches in length and had a 16-inch girth.

ADULT CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass - 6 lbs, 5 oz. caught by Bill Vivona of Bound Brook on February 16. Bill was fishing on the Doris Mae VI out of Barnegat and was between 60-80 miles offshore when he landed the fish at 10:30 am. Forty pound test was used with a Daiwa rod and a Penn reel. A clam served as bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length with a 26-inch girth.

Black Drum - 94 lbs, 0 oz. caught by Lester Kyle, Jr. of Pedricktown on July 3. Lester was fishing from a boat in Delaware Bay when he hooked the fish. Fifty pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A crab served for bait. The fish measured 54.5 inches in length and had a 31-inch girth.

Bluefish - 24 lb, 3 oz. caught by Samuel Liebman of Elkins Park, PA on October 17. Samuel was fishing from a boat at the Mud Buoy when he reeled the fish in at 2:00 pm. Thirty pound test was used with a St. Croix graphite rod and a conventional reel. A hammered jig was used as the lure. The fish measured 35 inches in length and had a 26-inch girth.

Fluke - 9 lbs, 11 oz. caught by Gregory Doctor of Point Pleasant on August 3. Gregory was fishing from a boat at the Axel Carlson Reef when he landed the fish at 10:00 am. Thirty pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a Penn reel. A squid/spearing combo served as the bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length. Girth was unknown.

Kingfish - 1 lbs, 9 oz. caught by Christopher Sonntag of Seaside Park on October 1. Christopher was fishing from a boat at Island Beach State Park drifting rocks when he landed the fish at 4:00 pm. Twenty pound test was used with a spinning rod and a US150 reel. A clam served as bait. The fish measured 16.5 inches in length with a 8.5-inch girth.

Mako Shark - 253 lbs, 0 oz. caught by James Crudele of Sea Isle City on May 17. James was fishing from a boat at the Wilmington Canyon when he landed the fish at 2:00 pm. Eighty pound test was used with a stand up rod and a conventional reel. A mackerel served as the bait. The fish measured 79 inches in length with a 41-inch girth.

JUNIOR CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 5 lbs, 5 oz. caught by 5-year-old T.J. Kepner of Somers Point on October 19. T.J. was fishing from the shore at Birch Grove Park in Northfield when he landed the fish at 11:30 am. Eight pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A shiner was used as bait. The fish measured 21.5 inches in length and had a 14-inch girth.

Smallmouth Bass - 3 lbs, 3 oz. caught by 14-year-old Tucker Condit of Newton on July 17. Tucker was fishing from a boat on Swartswood Lake in Sussex County when he landed the fish at 10:00 am. Eight pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and reel. A live shiner was used as bait. The fish measured 19 inches in length and had a 12.5-inch girth.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 6 lbs, 0 oz. caught by 9-year-old Gavin J. Wolf of Lambertville on June 25. Gavin was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he caught the fish. Six pound test was used with a Kunnan rod and a Shimano reel. A herring was used as bait. The fish measured 22 inches in length and had a 16-inch girth.

Crappie - 2 lbs, 0 oz caught by 11-year-old Bryan Collins of Lake Hopatcong on April 18. Bryan was fishing from the shore of Lake Hopatccong when he hooked the fish. Four pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A fathead served as bait. The fish measured 14.75 inches in length and had a 12.5-inch girth.

Muskellunge - 16 lbs, 1 oz. caught by 12-year-old Justin Dornblasser of Phillipsburg on October 13. Justin was fishing from a boat on Monksville Reservoir when he landed the fish at 10:00 am. Twenty pound test was used with a Daiwa rod and reel. A believer served as the lure. The fish measured 41 inches in length and had a 15-inch girth.

Rainbow Trout - 10 lbs, 0 oz. caught by 14-year-old Michael McCarthy of Oxford on April 28. Michael was fishing in the Pequest River when he landed the fish at 3:00 pm. Eight pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a spin casting reel. A oz. Phoebe served as the lure. The fish measured 28 inches in length and had a 24-inch girth.

Brook Trout - 4 lbs, 0 oz. caught by 8-year-old Nicholas Levisay of Alpha on April 7. Nicholas was wading in the Musconetcong River when he landed the fish at 8:00 am. Four pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a spinning reel. A fathead served as the bait. The fish measured 20 inches in length and had a 12-inch girth.

Sunfish - 0 lbs, 13 oz. caught by 13-year-old Jacob Mangeri of Pompton Plains on July 20. Justin was fishing from the shore at Foothills Park when he landed the fish. Six pound test was used with a Ready2Fish rod and a Shimano reel. Mealworms served as the bait. The fish measured 10 inches in length and had a 4-inch girth.

Walleye - 6 lbs, 15 oz. caught by 12-year-old Bryan Collins of Lake Hopatcong on September 10. Bryan was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish. Ten pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring served as the bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length. Girth was unknown.

JUNIOR CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass - 4 lbs, 0 oz. caught by 10-year-old Mark Osisek of Pottstown, PA on August 4. Mark was fishing from a boat 3 miles off of Barnegat Light when he landed the fish at 8:00 am. Twelve pound test was used with a 6 foot rod and a spinning reel. A squid/bucktail combo served as bait. The fish measured 22.25 inches in length and had a 14-inch girth.

Fluke - 11 lbs, 13 oz. caught by 8-year-old Jack Scialla of Pine Brook on July 31. Jack was fishing from a boat off of Sea Bright when he landed the fish at 10:30 am. Twenty pound test was used with spinning rod and a Penn reel. Cut bait served as bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length and had a 30-inch girth.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 23.9 inches caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on August 23. Christopher was fishing from a boat on Lake Shawnee when he reeled the fish in at 6:00 pm. Ten pound test was used with an Field and Stream rod and a Pfluger reel. A custom homemade plastic worm served as the lure. The girth was unknown.

Smallmouth Bass - 20.5 inches caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on November 2. Christopher was fishing from a boat on Swartswood Lake when he reeled the fish in at 1:00 pm. Ten pound test was used with a Field and Stream rod and a Pfluger reel. A blade bait served as the lure. The girth was unknown.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 27.5 inches caught by Rob Jasonek of Nutley on May 2. Rob was fishing from a kayak on Lake Hopatcong when he reeled in the fish at 11:45 pm. Thirty-pound braided line was used with a medium action rod and a Shimano spinning reel. A live herring served for bait. Girth was unknown.

Bullhead - 16.5 inches caught by Ryan Lopardo of Monroe on September 14. Ryan was fishing from the shore of a retention pond in Monroe when he reeled in the fish at 10:15 am. Six pound test was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a Zebco reel. A worm served as the bait. Girth was unavailable.

Carp - 37 inches caught by Zach Merchant of Clinton on October 13. Zach was fishing from the shore of DeMott Pond when he reeled in the fish at 2:00 pm. Forty pound test line was used with a 7' spinning rod and spinning reel. Corn and oats served as the bait. The girth was unknown.

Channel Catfish - 36 inches caught by Jack Repsher of Burlington on September 20. Jack was fishing from the shore of Sylvan Lake in Burlington when he reeled in the fish at 10:00 am. Ten pound test line was used with an Ugly Stik rod and a Quantum reel. Live sunfish was used to attract the fish. The girth was unknown.
and
Channel Catfish - 36 inches caught by Raymond Podlesny of East Windsor on October 6. Raymond was fishing from a boat on Mercer County Lake when he reeled in the fish at 10:00 am. Six pound Trilene was used with a Daiwa rod and reel. A Mepps spinner was used to attract the fish. The girth was 14.5 inches.

Crappie - 16.5 inches caught by Jake Ruczynski of Monroeville on January 14. Jake was fishing from the shore of a farm pond in Elk Township when he reeled in the fish. Six pound test was used with a G. Loomis rod and a Shimano reel. A minnow was used to attract the fish. Girth was unknown.

Muskellunge - 48 inches caught by Wlodzimierz Lesiak of Avenel on November 29. Wlodzimierz was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he reeled in the fish. Twenty pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A Swim Shad served as the lure. Girth was unknown.
and
Muskellunge - 48 inches caught by Evert Holgerson of Towaco on June 29. Evert was fishing from a boat on Echo Lake when he reeled in the fish at 2:10 pm. Thirty pound Power Pro was used with a St. Croix rod and an Okuma baitcast reel. A Cowgirl served as the lure. Girth was unknown.

Yellow Perch - 15.25 inches caught by Henry Buergel of Phillipsburg on October 30. Henry was fishing from a boat on Merrill Creek Reservoir when he reeled in the fish at 1:39 pm. Eight pound test line was used with a Shimano rod and a reel. A spoon served as the lure. The girth was unknown.

Chain Pickerel - 28.5 inches caught by Chris Delia, Jr. of Elmer on May 6. Chris was fishing from a boat on Elmer Lake when he reeled in the fish at 4:30 pm. Thirty pound Power Pro was used with an Abu Garcia Veritas 7' 11" rod and an Abu Garcia Orca S reel. A 5" Senko worm served as the lure. Girth was unknown.
and
Chain Pickerel - 28.5 inches caught by Joe Anyzek of Erial on May 22. Joe was fishing from the shore in his power wheelchair on Lake Renee when he reeled in the fish at 10:01 am. Six pound test was used with an Acadia rod and a Pflueger spinning reel. A rubber worm served as the lure. Girth was 11 inches.

Northern Pike - 48 inches caught by Zach Merchant of Clinton on October 25. Zach was fishing from the of Spruce Run Reservoir when he reeled in the fish at 10:30 pm. Fifteen pound braided line was used with a Daiwa medium light 5' 6" rod and a Daiwa spinning reel. Girth was unknown.

Brown Trout - 29 inches caught by Raymond Podlesny, Jr. of East Windsor on May 1. Raymond was fishing from a boat on Round Valley Reservoir when he landed the fish at 7:30 pm. Eight pound test line was used with a G. Loomis rod and Daiwa reel. A nightcrawler was the bait. Girth was unavailable.

Lake Trout - 31.5 inches caught by Henry Buergel of Phillipsburg on September 6. Harry was fishing from a boat on Merrill Creek Reservoir when he landed the fish at 5:33 pm. Twelve pound test line was used with a Shimano rod and an Abu reel. An Evil Eye Spoon served as the lure. Girth was unavailable.

Rainbow Trout - 23 inches caught by Zach Merchant of Clinton on November 26. Zach was fishing from the shore at Round Valley Reservoir when he landed the fish at 9:30 am. Four pound test was used with a 5' Shakespeare ultralight rod and an Abu Garcia ultralight spinning reel. A live shiner was the bait. Girth was 11 inches.

Sunfish - 9.75 inches caught by John Parke of Hackettstown on June 1. John was fishing from the shore of a farm pond in Hardwick when he reeled in the fish at 6:30 pm. Two pound test was used with a Shakespeare Ugly Stik rod and a Zebco 33 reel. A live cicada served as bait. Girth was unknown.

Walleye - 28 inches caught by Domenick Buonocore of Middlesex on June 21. Domenick was fishing from a boat on Oak Ridge Reservoir when he reeled in the fish at 12:45 pm. Six pound test was used with a Shimano rod and a Tica reel. A shad rap served as the lure. Girth was unknown.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Striped Bass - 43.25 inches caught by David H. Howell of Devon, PA on June 22. David was surf fishing at Harvey Cedars when he landed the fish at 6:40 pm. Fifty pound test was used with a 10' surf rod and a spinning reel. A bunker served as the bait. Girth was unavailable.

Black Drum - 49 inches caught by Ken Melkonich of Hamilton on June 1. Ken was fishing from a boat 2 miles off of Slaughter Beach when he landed the fish between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Eighty pound ProLine was used with a Tidewater Shakespeare rod and a Cabela's Depthmaster reel. A large clam served as the bait. Girth was unavailable.

Bluefish - 36.5 inches caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on July 11. Christopher was fishing from a boat in Raritan Bay when he landed the fish at 1:00 am. Thirty pound test was used with a Bass Pro Shop rod and an Abu Garcia reel. A bunker chunk served as the bait. The girth was unavailable.

Kingfish - 15 inches caught by Arthur Kosakowski of Bayonne on August 1. Arthur was surf fishing at Lavallette when he landed the fish at 7:15 pm. Twenty pound test was used with an 9' medium/heavy rod and a spinning reel. A clam served as the bait. The girth was unavailable.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Skillful Angler Recognition Program
Record Fish Program

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Last Updated: March 11, 2014