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1999 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 1999, 76 applications representing 25 different species were officially processed. Since the program's modest beginning, the Division has granted 1,520 anglers with skillful angler status.

Interesting Facts:

The most popular species caught by skillful anglers in 1999 was chain pickerel with 17 entries received.

This year there were no entries received for American shad, rainbow trout, kingfish, cod, blue marlin, white marlin or the pollock categories.

One skillful angler winning entry is a state record - striped bass hybrid (16 pounds, 4 ounces).

New this year, is an "outstanding catch" category featuring a 68-pound black drum caught while fly-fishing. The catch is a certified IGFA World Record. Though the fish does not meet standard minimum weight requirements for this species, it is still worthy of recognition as a skillful angling achievement.

The 1999 Skillful Angler Awards Winners are as follows:

Freshwater Species:

Largemouth Bass - 6 lbs, 15 ozs caught by 44-year-old Jeffrey R. Grube of Easton, PA on June 27. Jeffrey was fishing from a boat at Swartswood Lake when he reeled this one in at 8:40 a.m. Fourteen pound test was used on a casting rod and reel with stick bait. The fish measured 21 inches in length. Girth was 16 inches.

Smallmouth Bass - 5 lbs, 3 ozs caught by 33-year-old Henry Buergel of Phillipsburg on September 24. Henry was fishing Merrill Creek Reservoir by boat when he reeled this one in at 11 a.m. Six pound test was used with an Ultralite rod and a spinning reel. A 3" spoon served as the lure. The fish measured 21 inches in length. Girth was 15 inches.

Striped Bass Hybrid - State record 16 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 39-year-old Bill Schmidt of Branchville on October 28. Bill was fishing from a boat on Culver Lake when he landed this one at 1:40 p.m. Ten pound test was used with a Garcia rod and an Olympic reel. He used a Bucktail lure and a shiner for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length with a 22 inch girth.

Carp - 38 lbs caught by 53-year-old Richard Torgun of Gloucester City on May 21. Richard was fishing from the shore of the Delaware River when he got the fish at 8:05 a.m. Eight pound test was used with a Daiwa reel and a custom rod. Corn meal served as bait. The fish measured 42 inches in length with a 34 inch girth.

Channel Catfish - 14 lbs caught by Edwin Byk of Bloomfield on May 31. Edwin was fishing from the shore of Lake Hopatcong when he got the fish at 11 p.m. Eight pound test was used with a Berkeley rod and a Quantum reel. A hotdog served as bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Black Crappie - 3 lbs, 3 ozs caught by 67-year-old Mike Wydra of Millville on November 1. Mike was fly fishing from the shore of Union Lake when he landed the fish at 7 a.m. Four pound test was used with a Fly Marten rod and reel. A Wooly Worm Fly served as the lure. The fish measured 17 inches in length with a 12 inch girth.

White Crappie - 2 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 47-year-old William Phillips of Hamilton Square on May 29. William was fishing from a boat at Lake Mercer when he landed the fish at 7 p.m. Six pound test was used with a Shimano spinning rod and reel. Spinner bait served as the lure. The fish measured 15 inches in length with a 16 inch girth.

Muskellunge - 31 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 65-year-old Walter Neumann of Cliffwood Beach on June 30. Walter was fishing the Monksville Reservoir by boat when he reeled in the fish at 5 p.m. Ten pound test was used with a handmade rod and a Sigma reel. A Mudbug was used for bait. The fish measured 45 inches in length with a girth of 22 inches.

Chain Pickerel - 5 lbs, 7 ozs caught by 42-year-old Robert Brower of North Brunswick on November 4. Robert was fishing from his boat at Farrington Lake when he landed this one at 11:30 a.m. Four pound test was used with a Shimano rod and reel. A Mepp's lure was used for bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Northern Pike - 19 lbs 4 ozs caught by 35-year-old Don Geiss, Jr. of Wharton on October 11. Don was fishing from his boat at Lake Picatinny when he hooked into the fish at 2 p.m. Seventeen pound test was used with a Pinnacle rod and a Shimano reel. A Jig-n-Pig lure served for bait. The fish was 43 inches in length with an 18 inch girth.

Brook Trout - 4 lbs, 5 ozs caught by 17-year-old Justin Bird of Phillipsburg on April 10. Justin was fishing from the shore of the Musconetcong River when he landed the fish at 11:45 a.m. Six pound test on an Abu Garcia rod and a Quantum reel was used. A night crawler served for bait. The fish measured 17 inches in length and had a girth of 14 inches.

Brown Trout - 10 lbs, 1 oz caught by 51-year-old Joseph Krainatz, Jr. of South Bound Brook on June 6. Joe was fishing from the shore of the Beaver Brook when he landed the fish at 10 a.m. Six pound test was used with a handmade, custom built rod and a Shimano reel. Shrimp flavored salmon eggs were used for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Lake Trout - 13 lbs, 9 ozs caught by 56-year-old Norman McNally of Manville on April 18. Norm was fishing Round Valley Reservoir from his boat when he landed this one at 8:15 a.m. Ten pound Ande was used with a Shimano rod and a Penn reel. A spoon lure was used for bait. The fish measured 36 inches in length with a 16 inch girth.

Walleye - 7 lbs, 2 ozs caught by 20-year-old Robert Hartzell of Phillipsburg on August 3. Robert was fishing from the shore of the Delaware River when he landed the fish at 9:30 p.m. Ten pound test was used with a Berkeley rod and a Penn reel. A Rapala lure served as bait. The fish measured 25 inches in length with a 15 inch girth.

Saltwater Species:

Black Sea Bass - 4 lbs, 10 ozs caught by 43-year-old Edward Emond of Cherry Hill on December 29. Edward was fishing on the Doris Mae over an offshore wreck when he reeled in the fish at 8 a.m. Twenty-five pound test was used with an Ugly Stick rod and a Penn International reel. Clams served as bait. The fish measured 21 inches in length with a girth of 13 inches.

Striped Bass - 52 lbs caught by 37-year-old Philip E. Connor of Edison on July 24. Phil was fishing from a boat off the Jersey coast near Monmouth County when he hooked the fish at 7 a.m. Forty pound Ande test line was used with a Conventional rod and an Ambassadeur reel. Live bunker served for bait. The fish measured 52 inches in length with a girth of 29 inches.

Bluefish - 19 lbs caught by 67-year-old Michael Wydra of Millville on September 12. Michael was fishing from his boat at the McCrae Shoal in Cape May when he caught the fish at 10 a.m. Fifteen pound test was used on a Shakespeare rod and reel. Squid served for bait. The fish was 40 inches in length with a 20 inch girth. Michael was also this year's winner of the Black Crappie category.

Black Drum - 83 lbs caught by 43-year-old Jim Bonney of Deptford on September 3. Jim was fishing the Delaware Bay on the charter, Carol Ann, when he reeled in the fish at 3:30 p.m. Twenty-five pound test line was used with a spinning rod and reel. A shedder crab was used for bait. The fish measured 49 inches in length with a girth of 39 inches.

Winter Flounder - 3 lbs, 2 ozs caught by 44-year-old Stanley Klimek of Sayreville on December 2. Stanley was fishing the Shark River by boat when he caught the fish at 10 a.m. Twenty pound test was used with a custom rod and a Penn reel. A worm served as bait. The fish measured 18 inches in length.

Fluke - 16 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 12-year-old Joey Helfenbein of Montevale on July 11. Joey was fishing from his uncle's boat at Sandy Hook Bay when he landed the fish at 5 p.m. Eight pound test was used with a Pflueger Medalist rod and a Daiwa reel. A killie/squid combination served for bait. The fish was 34 inches in length.

Mako Shark - 268 lbs caught by 41-year-old Michael Racz of Tatamy, PA on June 5. Mike was fishing from the charter boat Invader when he reeled in the fish at 2 p.m. Eighty pound test was used with a Penn rod and reel. Mackerel served as bait. The fish measured 90 inches in length with a girth of 50 inches.

Tautog - 15 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 39-year-old Jim Neville of Town Bank on May 29. Jim was fishing from a boat in the Cape May inlet when he reeled the fish in at 9:30 a.m. Forty pound test was used with a Penn rod and a 330 GTI reel. Green crab was used as bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length with a 22 inch girth.

Albacore Tuna - 67 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Gary Shafer of Levittown, PA on September 13. Gary was fishing on the charter boat The Shark when he hooked into the fish at 8 p.m. in Tom's Canyon. Eighty pound test on a Penn rod and reel was used. Butterfish served as bait. The fish measured 43 inches in length with a girth of 33 inches.

Big Eye Tuna - 275 lbs, 4 ozs caught by Joseph Edinger of Philadelphia, PA on August 28. Joe was fishing from the Super Chic charter boat when he reeled in the fish at 6:40 a.m. in the Lindenkohl Canyon. Eighty pound test was used with a Seeker rod and a Penn reel. Butterfish served as bait. Length and girth were not available.

Weakfish - 10 lbs, 15 ozs caught by 44-year-old Stanley Klimek of Sayreville on May 11. Stanley was fishing the Raritan Bay by boat when he reeled in the fish at 10 p.m. Twenty-five pound test was used with a Penn rod and reel. A worm served as bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length. Girth was unavailable. Stanley was also this year's Winter Flounder category winner.

Outstanding Catch - 68 lb Black Drum caught by Andrew Andreychak of Cape May on Sept. 20. Andrew was fly fishing off a jetty at Cape May Point when he hooked into the fish at 9 a.m. Sixteen pound test was used with a Lamson reel and a Sage fly rod. A Clouser Minnow lure served as bait. The fish measured 50 inches in length with a 34 inch girth.

Congratulations to all of our winners!


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