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2002 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 2002, 115 applications representing 20 different species were officially processed.

Interesting Facts for 2002:

The most frequently entered fish by skillful anglers in 2002 was walleye with 21 entries received.

The following is a breakdown of applications received per species: largemouth bass (6), striped bass hybrid (5), carp (2), channel catfish (6), crappie (1), muskellunge (1), chain pickerel (12), brook trout (5), brown trout (4), lake trout (2), rainbow trout (3), walleye (21), black sea bass (8), striped bass (9), black drum (3), winter flounder (3), fluke (8), kingfish (4), tautog (9) and weakfish (3).

This year there were no entries received for the smallmouth bass, Northern pike, American shad, bluefish, cod, dolphin, blue marlin, white marlin, pollock, mako shark, albacore tuna, big eye tuna, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and tuna (other) categories.

All anglers with entries that meet the minimum weight requirements are recognized as skillful anglers. Each year the largest entry in each species category is also recognized.

Several of this year's category winners were honored in the past:

Gregory Mark Young of Whitehouse Station, winner of the lake trout category also became the new state record holder for lake trout. His fish weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces more than the previous record taken from Round Valley Reservoir in 2001.

Muskellunge category winner Bob Olsen is currently the Northern Region Superintendent for the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Land Management. He previously worked for the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries as a Hatchery Superintendent at the Hackettstown Hatchery raising warmwater fish for stocking purposes.

This year, 20 adults were honored for the largest catches in each of the skillful angler species categories.

The 2002 Skillful Angler Awards Winners are as follows:

Freshwater Species:

Largemouth Bass - 8 lbs, 8.5 ozs caught by 64-year-old Kenneth Williams of Bridgeton on February 21. Kenneth was shore fishing at Mary Elmer Lake when he reeled this one in at 7:30 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. The lure was a Rattle Trap. The fish measured 23 inches in length with a 19-inch girth.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 9 lbs, 2 ozs caught by 59-year-old Dominick Sarinelli of Hopatcong on August 26. Dominick was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed this one at 8 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod. Reel type was unavailable. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 26 inches in length with an 18-inch girth.

Carp - 33 lbs caught by 55-year-old George Horvath of Trenton on April 24. George was fishing from the shore of the Delaware River when he got the fish at 4:50 p.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a Mitchell reel and a Shakespeare rod. Corn meal served as bait. The fish measured 38 inches in length with a 28-inch girth.

Channel Catfish - 19 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 18-year-old Charles Heidt, III of Vernon on May 1. Charles was fishing from the shore of Pleasant Valley Lake in Vernon when he got the fish at 1:30 p.m. Four-pound test was used with a fiberglass rod and a Shimano reel. A nightcrawler served for bait. The fish measured 35 inches in length with a 24-inch girth.

Black Crappie - 3 lbs, 3 ozs caught by 69-year-old Mike Wydra of Millville on April 3. Mike was fishing from the shore of Union Lake in Millville when he landed the fish at 8 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and reel. A micro jig served as the lure. The fish measured 17 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Tiger Muskellunge - 23 lbs, 3 ozs caught by 45-year-old Bob Olsen of Oxford on July 14. Bob was fishing Oxford Furnace Lake from his boat when he reeled the fish in at 7 p.m. Fourteen-pound test was used with a graphite rod and a bait casting reel. Spinner bait served as the lure. The fish measured 43 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Chain Pickerel - 7 lbs caught by 37-year-old Timothy D. Ripley, Sr. of Mays Landing on June 9. Timothy was fishing from his boat in the Great Egg Harbor River when he landed this one at 2:30 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a St. Croix rod and a Shimano reel. A plastic worm served as the lure. The fish measured 26 inches in length with an 11-inch girth.

Brook Trout - 5 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 32-year-old Patrick Keefe of South Amboy on the opening day of trout season, April 13. Patrick was fishing the Musconetcong River by boat when he landed the fish at 9:30 a.m. Six-pound test was used with an Ugly Stick rod and a Shimano reel. A white salmon egg served for bait. The fish measured 23 inches in length and had a girth of 14 inches.

Brown Trout - 11 lbs caught by 40-year-old Andrew Still of Middlesex on May 24. Andrew was fishing Merrill Creek Reservoir by boat when he landed the fish at 7 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and a Daiwa reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length with a 13-inch girth.

Lake Trout - 32 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 41-year-old Gregory Mark Young of Whitehouse Station on May 4. Gregory was fishing Round Valley Reservoir from his boat when he landed this one at 8 a.m. Seventeen-pound test (with a 10 lb. leader) was used with an Eagle Claw rod and a Daiwa reel. A Sutton Spoon was the lure. The fish measured 41 inches in length with a 25-inch girth.

Rainbow Trout - 7 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 43-year-old Linda M. Brahn of South Belmar on the opening day of trout season, April 13. Linda was fishing from a boat on Spring Lake when she landed this one at 9:30 a.m. Four-pound test was used with a Fenwick rod and a Daiwa reel. Bait/lure is unknown. The fish measured 25 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Walleye - 7 lbs, 10 ozs caught by 41-year-old David P. Smith of Hopatcong on June 22. David was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 12 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Saltwater Species:

Black Sea Bass - 7 lbs, 6 ozs caught by 40-year-old Michael Varallo, Sr. of Ocean City on January 6. Michael was fishing from a boat off Great Egg Inlet when he reeled the fish in at 7:30 a.m. Forty-pound test was used with an Ugly Stick rod and a Penn reel. Chunk mackerel served for bait. The fish measured 24 inches in length with a girth of 18 inches.

Striped Bass - 56 lbs caught by 49-year-old Mike Pierce of Millville on November 5. Mike was fishing from his boat in Delaware Bay when he hooked the fish at 1 p.m. Seventeen-pound test line was used with an Ugly Stick rod and an Okuma reel. Bunker head served for bait. The fish measured 51 inches in length with a girth of 30 inches.

Black Drum - 88 lbs caught by 45-year-old Linda Cohn of Villas on May 17. Linda was fishing on a party boat in Delaware Bay when she reeled the fish in at 1:30 a.m. Forty-pound test line was used with a Penn rod and reel. Clams were used for bait. Length and girth sizes were unavailable.

Winter Flounder - 3 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 37-year-old Joseph Barbarito of Cherry Hill on March 24. Joseph was fishing from his boat on Oyster Creek when he caught the fish at 1 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Castaway rod and a Shimano reel. A flounder rig was the lure. The fish measured 20 inches in length.

Fluke - 12 lbs, 13 ozs caught by 74-year-old Bob Steinmetz of Havertown, PA on August 23. Bob was fishing the Chick-A-Dee Reef when he landed the fish at 2 p.m. Twenty-five-pound test was used with a Penn rod and reel. The bait was shark. The fish was 31 inches in length.

Kingfish - 2 lb, 12 ozs caught by 47-year-old Stanley C. Klimek of Sayreville on May 11. Stanley was fishing Raritan Bay by boat when he landed the fish at 4 p.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a custom rod and a Penn reel. Worms were used for bait. The fish was 20 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Tautog - 18 lbs, 7 ozs caught by 43-year-old Jim Neville of Town Bank on December 28. Jim was fishing from a party boat at the Cape May Reef when he reeled the fish in at 11:45 a.m. Forty-pound test was used with a Penn rod and a Shimano reel. Green crab served for bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length with a 23-inch girth.

Weakfish - 11 lbs caught by 45-year-old Debra DeVirgilio of Cliffwood on May 11. Debra was fishing Raritan Bay by boat when she landed the fish at 6:35 p.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a Loomis rod and a Calcutta reel. Sandworms served for bait. The fish was 30 inches in length with a 16-inch girth.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

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