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2005 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 2005, 148 applications representing 28 different species were officially processed.

INTERESTING FACTS:

The most frequently entered species by skillful anglers in 2005 (adult, junior, and catch and release categories combined) were striped bass hybrid and walleye with 21 and 20 entries received, respectively.

The following is a breakdown of applications received per species (all categories combined): largemouth bass (13), smallmouth bass (6), striped bass hybrid (21), striped bass caught in freshwater (1), bullhead (2), carp (2), channel catfish (13), crappie (3), muskellunge (2), yellow perch (2), chain pickerel (11), northern pike (1), brook trout (6), brown trout (1), lake trout (2), rainbow trout (3), sunfish (2), walleye (20), black sea bass (7), striped bass caught in saltwater (5), black drum (3), bluefish (1), winter flounder (2), fluke (7), tautog (2), albacore tuna (1), big eye tuna (1) and weakfish (7).

In 2005, no entries were received for the shad, cod, dolphin, kingfish, mako shark, blue marlin, white marlin, pollock, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and tuna (other) categories.

This year, the catch and release category for largemouth bass is tied. The winning entries measured 23 inches each.

Gary Kreckie of Howell is winner of the adult rainbow trout category. He is a repeat winner honored for both the adult brown and rainbow trout categories last year. He was also the brown trout category winner in 2003.

Victor Mazza of Hampton is also a repeat winner with his 26-inch catch and release striped bass hybrid. In 2004, he was the dual winner of the catch and release striped bass hybrid and northern pike categories.

Suzanne Mazza, winner of the northern pike catch and release category, is Victor's wife! Vic says they are long-time fishing partners and he's right -- they will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in just a few months - congratulations!

Tyler Wackermann, winner of the junior chain pickerel category for a 5 pound, 4 ounce fish, was the dual winner of the junior largemouth and smallmouth bass categories last year. Interestingly, Tyler's dad Bill was the category winner for lake trout in 1996 and 1997, and for smallmouth bass in 1998!

Eddie Mackin is the dual winner of both the junior striped bass hybrid and bullhead categories. Young Eddie is quite a fisherman and in 2005 alone, submitted seven entries that qualified for the program. In fact he fishes with a group of young anglers including junior category winners Dan Lehr (3 pound, 6 ounce smallmouth bass), Matt Schroeder (10 pound, 14 ounce channel catfish), and James Thomas (8 pound, 15 ounce walleye).

Gary Walukiewicz, winner of the adult muskellunge category, was also a winner nine years ago (in 1996) for a 16 pound, 12 ounce northern pike.

Tom McCloy, who submitted an entry for an 82-pound black drum in the adult category, is also marine fisheries administrator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. He respectfully declined to be honored so that Art Rainear's 79-pound entry could become the top category winner. Not only does Tom know how to manage the fisheries resource, but apparently he knows how to fish for it as well!

This year, 32 adults and 19 youths were honored for the largest catches in each of the skillful angler species categories.

Overall, more freshwater catches (112) were entered than saltwater (36). The number of freshwater catches has almost doubled from last year.

The 2005 Skillful Angler Winners are as follows:

ADULT CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 9 lbs, 2 ozs caught by Paul Peterla of Cookstown on August 20. Paul was fishing from a boat on Assunpink Lake when he reeled the fish in at 8:30 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Garcia rod and an Okuma reel. Spinner bait served as the lure. The fish measured 25 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

Smallmouth Bass - 4 lbs caught by Brad Garie of Dover on March 5. Brad was ice fishing on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 11 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a jigging rod and a spinning reel. A Rapala lure served for bait. The fish measured 20 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 10 lbs, 1 oz caught by Lenny Stelmack of Stanhope on July 22. Len was fishing from a boat in Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 7:30 a.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 27 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Channel Catfish - 13 lbs, 3 ozs caught by Mike Fawcett of Lake Hopatcong on November 2. Mike was fishing from the shore of Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 6 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 29 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Crappie - 3 lbs, 2 ozs caught by Paul Grel of Clifton on March 14. Paul was ice fishing at Lake Hopatcong when he hooked the fish at 6 p.m. A shiner served for bait. The fish measured 18 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Muskellunge - 22 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Gary Walukiewicz of Trenton on May 22. Gary was fishing from the shore of Mercer County Lake when he caught the fish at 9 a.m. Fourteen-pound test was used with a Penn reel and a Shakespeare rod. The lure was a Daredevil. The fish measured 44 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Yellow Perch - 1 lb, 13 ozs caught by Eugene Belote of Lake Hopatcong on April 3. Gene was fishing from the shore of Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 3:30 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a light rod and a spinning reel. The lure was a jig. The fish measured 13 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Chain Pickerel - 6 lbs, 4 ozs caught by Richard Rumfield of Phillipsburg on February 12. Richard was ice fishing at Greenwood Lake when he landed the fish at 10 a.m. A tip-up was used with live bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Brook Trout - 5 lbs, 2 ozs caught by Larry Cavallo of Lambertville on April 25. Larry was fishing from the banks of the lower end of the Big Flatbrook when he hooked the fish at 9 a.m. Four-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and a Tica Cetus spinning reel. A rooster tail served as the lure. The fish measured 25 inches in length with an 11-inch girth.

Brown Trout - 12 lbs, 12 ozs caught by Stephen Tkacs of Lawrenceville on April 30. Steve was fishing from the banks of the South Branch of the Raritan River when he hooked the fish at 9:30 a.m. Four-pound test was used with an Ultra Lite rod and a spinning reel. The lure was a rooster tail spinner. The fish measured 31 inches in length with a 19-inch girth.

Lake Trout - 21 lbs, 3 ozs caught by Paul Silva of Lebanon on May 7. Paul was fishing Round Valley Reservoir by boat in a Round Valley Trout Association tournament when he hooked the fish at 5:45 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Loomis rod and a Penn reel. The lure was a Sutton spoon. The fish measured 39 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Rainbow Trout - 9 lbs, 15 ozs caught by Gary Kreckie of Howell on May 24. Gary was wading in the Manasquan River in Howell by the Spring Meadow Golf Course when he landed the fish at 10:30 a.m. Four-pound test was used with a noodle rod and a Shimano reel. A nightcrawler served for bait. The fish measured 28 inches in length with an 18-inch girth.

Walleye - 10 lbs, 5 ozs caught by Carl Platvoet of Franklin on October 1. Carl was fishing from a boat in Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 10 p.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Stick-bait served as the lure. The fish measured 29 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

ADULT CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass - 6 lbs, 15 ozs caught by William Aumack of Belmar on October 21. Bill was fishing an offshore wreck when he landed the fish at 10:30 a.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a Tsunami rod and a Shimano reel. A clam served for bait. The fish measured 23 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass - 58 lbs, 4 ozs caught by Brian Clayton of Brick on May 30. Brian was in a boat off Asbury Park when he hooked the fish at 7 a.m. Twenty-pound test line was used with a Lamiglass rod and a Shimano reel. Bunker head served for bait. The fish measured 51 inches in length with a 29-inch girth.

Black Drum - 79 lbs caught by Art Rainear of Richland on May 30. Art was fishing from a boat in Delaware Bay during the 68th Jersey Cape Board of Freeholders Fishing Tournament when he reeled the fish in at 6:30 a.m. Sixty-pound test line was used with a boat rod and a Shimano reel. Clams were used for bait. The fish measured 48 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Winter Flounder - 2 lbs, 15.7 ozs caught by Dale Beisel of Barnegat on April 18. Dale was fishing from a boat in Barnegat Bay when he caught the fish at 10:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Bloodworms were used for bait. The fish measured 18 inches in length.

Fluke - 10 lbs, 10 ozs caught by John Jay Krejsa of Waretown on June 25. John was fishing from a boat in Barnegat Inlet when he landed the fish at 11:15 a.m. Fifteen-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and an Abu-Garcia reel. A combination of squid and killies served for bait. The fish measured 27 inches in length.

Tautog - 8 lbs, 8 ozs caught by Richard Morlock of Roselle on May 30. Richard was fishing off the end of the North Jetty at Island Beach State Park when he reeled the fish in at 6:30 a.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Green crabs that he collected among the rocks served for bait. The fish measured 23 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Big Eye Tuna - 286 lbs caught by Bob Whitehead of Vernon on August 7. Bob was fishing Hudson Canyon when he landed the fish at 9 a.m. Eighty-pound test was used with a custom rod and a Penn reel. A Green Machine lure served for bait. The fish was 86 inches in length with a 54-inch girth.

Weakfish - 14 lbs caught by Captain Jeffrey Santarpio of Absecon on May 14. Jeff was fishing from his boat off Brigantine when he landed the fish at 6:30 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a casting rod and a spinning reel. A White Mister Twister lure served for bait. The fish measured 36 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

JUNIOR CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 4 lbs, 12 ozs caught by 14-year-old Bryan Skarbnik of Wharton on August 21. Bryan was fishing from a boat on Lake Madonna in Sparta when he reeled the fish in at 4:30 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and reel. Crankbait served as the lure. The fish measured 20 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Smallmouth Bass - 3 lbs, 6 ozs caught by 14-year-old Dan Lehr of Hopatcong on August 16. Dan was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he reeled the fish in at 7 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring served for bait. The fish measured 19 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 9 lbs, 3 ozs caught by 15-year-old Eddie Mackin of Lake Hopatcong on May 21. Eddie was fishing off of a floating dock on Lake Hopatcong when he caught the fish during the night. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 25 inches in length with a 20-inch girth.

Bullhead - 1 lb, 15 ozs caught by 15-year-old Eddie Mackin of Lake Hopatcong on July 31. Eddie was fishing Lake Hopatcong by boat when he caught the fish at 9:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. Herring served for bait. The fish measured 15 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Carp - 32 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 12-year-old Domenic Nasuta of Garfield on June 21. Domenic was fishing from the banks of the Passaic River in Passaic when he caught the fish at 5:15 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Fishbonz rod and reel. A mallberry was used as a lure. The fish measured 41 inches in length with a 27-inch girth.

Channel Catfish - 10 lbs, 14 ozs caught by 13-year-old Matthew Schroeder of Dingmans Ferry, PA on July 20. Matt was fishing Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 5:30 a.m. using a spinning rod and reel. Line type is unknown. A herring served for bait. The fish measured 26 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Chain Pickerel - 5 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 11-year-old Tyler Wackermann of Stewartsville on April 12. Tyler was fishing from a boat on Merrill Creek Reservoir when he landed the fish at 6 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Bass Pro Shop rod and a Garcia reel. The lure was a Thunder Stick. The fish measured 27 inches in length with a 12-inch girth.

Brook Trout - 2 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 15-year-old Michael Bezick of Manville on April 17. Mike was fishing from the shore of the Musconetcong River when he hooked the fish at 10:30 a.m. Four-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and a Quantum reel. A Mepps lure served as bait. The fish measured 17 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Rainbow Trout - 3 lbs, 8 ozs caught by 6-year-old Darren Vant of Alpha on April 16. Darren was fishing from the banks of the Musconetcong River when he landed the fish at 11:30 a.m. Six-pound test was used. Rod and reel type were unavailable. A nightcrawler served for bait. The fish measured 21 inches in length with an 11-inch girth.

Walleye - 8 lbs, 15 ozs caught by 12-year-old James Thomas of Lake Hopatcong on May 15. Jimmy was fishing from the banks of Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 9:30 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A herring served for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

JUNIOR CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass - 5 lbs caught by 15-year-old Clint Jacobson of Edgewater on June 26. Clint was fishing from a boat in the Atlantic Highlands when he hooked the fish at 1 p.m. Fifteen-pound test line was used with a Shakespeare rod and a Penn reel. A live killie was used for bait. The fish measured 22 inches in length with a 14-inch girth.

Striped Bass - 40 lbs, 2 ozs caught by 14-year-old David Steinmann of Burlington Township on July 10. David was fishing from a boat off Harvey Cedars when he hooked the fish that morning. Thirty-pound test line was used with a Penn rod and reel. Live bunker was used for bait. The fish measured 44 inches in length with a 23-inch girth.

Black Drum - 80 lbs caught by 11-year-old Andrew Lister of Hummelston, PA on August 20. Andy was fishing from a boat in Delaware Bay when he landed the fish. Line test, rod and reel type, and bait were unavailable. The fish measured 53 inches in length with a 36-inch girth.

Fluke - 13 lbs caught by 14-year-old Ryan Johnson of Parlin on August 14. Ryan was fishing from a boat in the Ambrose Channel when he hooked the fish at 12:30 p.m. Twenty-five-pound test line was used with a Lamiglass rod and a Penn reel. A squid/killie combination served for bait. The fish measured 30 inches in length.

Albacore Tuna - 67 lbs, 12 ozs caught by 15-year-old Nikki Miller of Mayetta on October 1. Nikki was fishing from a boat in Spencer Canyon when she hooked the fish at 1:30 p.m. Fifty-pound test line was used with a stand-up rod and a Penn reel. Bait was a green squid lure. The fish measured 44 inches in length. Girth was unavailable.

Weakfish - 11 lbs, 4 ozs caught by 8-year-old Nicholas Coakley of Wall on May 28. Nick was fishing from a boat in Shark River Inlet when he hooked the fish at 3 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and a Penn reel. A Norman Doodle Bug was the lure. The fish measured 33 inches in length with a 17-inch girth.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass - 23 inches caught by Luis Lopez of Paterson on April 24. Luis was fishing from the shore of Hidden Cove near Lincoln Park when he reeled the fish in at 11:15 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a medium rod and bait casting reel. The lure was smoke/pepper tube bait. Girth was 17 inches.
and
Largemouth Bass- 23 inches caught by Justin Sozio of Sicklerville on May 1. Justin was fishing from a boat on Bells Lake when he hooked the fish at 2:15 p.m. Fourteen-pound test line was used with a spinning rod and reel. A Sweet Beaver lure served as the bait. The girth was 16 inches.

Smallmouth Bass - 20 inches caught by Kenneth Mitzen of Hillsborough on June 15. Ken was wading in the Raritan River in Bridgewater (Duke Island Park) when he reeled the fish in at 8:10 p.m. Four-pound line was used with a fly rod and a clicker reel. The lure was a brown wooley bugger. Girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass Caught in Freshwater - 40 inches caught by Richard DeLay of Trenton on May 11. Richard was fishing from a boat on the Delaware (south of Bordentown) when he hooked the fish at 6 p.m. Seventeen-pound test line was used with a 7-foot rod and a Shimano Calcutta reel. A live herring (on a circle hook) served for bait. The girth was unavailable.

Striped Bass Hybrid - 26 inches caught by Victor Mazza of Hampton on July 11. Victor was fishing from a boat on Spruce Run Reservoir when he landed the fish at 12 a.m. Ten-pound test line was used with a Bass Pro Shop rod and a Shimano reel. A herring served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Channel Catfish - 37 inches caught by 12-year-old Chuck and 8-year-old James Elmendorf (a team effort) on May 30. The youngsters were fishing from the shore of a Medford lake when Chuck actually hooked the fish at 9 a.m. As he fought, James ran home to get a net. Unable to find it, he reluctantly ran back and switched off with Chuck to continue fighting the fish until Dad arrived with the elusive net. Six-pound test was used with a graphite rod and a spinning reel. A hot dog served for bait. Girth was estimated at 28 inches.

Crappie - 15 inches caught by 7-year-old Connor Zack of Bridgewater on June 29. Connor was fishing from a boat on Spruce Run Reservoir when he landed the fish at 6:30 p.m. Six-pound test was used with a Shakespeare rod and Shimano reel. A herring served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Muskellunge - 48 inches caught by 10-year-old Lauren Small of Sussex on April 17. Lauren was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when she caught the fish at 9:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel. A Rapala lure served as bait. The girth was 24 inches.

Yellow Perch - 14 inches caught by David Yusupov of Paterson on February 26. David was ice fishing at Monksville Reservoir near Ringwood (Long Pond Ironworks) when he caught the fish at 3 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a tip-up. A live shiner served for bait. Girth was 4 inches.

Chain Pickerel - 25 inches caught by Chris Hodgson of Stanhope on October 8. Chris was fishing from the banks of Lubber's Run when he landed the fish at 9 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a Loomis rod and a Quantum reel. Spinnerbait served as the lure. Girth was unavailable.

Northern Pike - 36 inches caught by Suzanne Mazza of Hampton on July 10. Suzanne was fishing from a boat in Spruce Run Reservoir when she hooked the fish at 9 a.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Bass Pro Shop rod and a Silstar reel. A herring served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Sunfish - 10 1/8 inches caught by Gary Winter of Woolwich on June 12. Gary was fishing from a boat in Franklinville Lake when he hooked the fish at 8:30 a.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Fenwick rod and a Finor reel. The lure was a Bomber Fat A. Girth was unavailable.

Walleye - 27 inches caught by Chris Kleinhans of Hamilton on September 29. Chris was fishing from a boat on the Delaware in Trenton when he landed the fish at 8 p.m. Fourteen-pound test was used with an All Star rod and a Quantum reel. The lure was a Rapala X-Rap. Girth was unavailable.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Striped Bass - 33 inches caught by Daniel Morgan of Bethlehem, PA, on May 28. Dan was surf fishing at Sandy Hook when he hooked the fish at 10:30 a.m. Twenty-pound test line was used with a Pinnacle rod and a Daiwa reel. Bunker served for bait. Girth was unavailable.

Congratulations to all of our winners!
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