navigation bar
   
njdep  
  New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
 
njdep home f&w home
Facebook Logo Instagram logo

2019 Skillful Angler Program Winners

 

This year marks the 37th anniversary of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Skillful Angler Program. For almost four 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 Program is designed to supplement the New Jersey State Record Fish Program. Significant changes were made in January of 2015. Although the program's three divisions remained the same (Adult, Junior, and Catch and Release), there are now categories creating more opportunities for qualifying fish to earn the angler a series of personalized certificates:

  • Specialist Angler - catch five qualifying fish of the same species within one year
  • Master Angler - catch five qualifying fish of five different species (saltwater and/or freshwater) within one year
  • Elite Angler - catch 10 or more qualifying fish of 10 different species (saltwater and/or freshwater) within one year
  • First Fish - catch your first fish of any species
Three additional categories (the Slam Series) include:

FRESHWATER

  • Trout Slam - catch one each of rainbow, brook and brown trout
  • Bass Slam - catch one each of small and largemouth bass
  • Panfish Slam - catch one each of sunfish, crappie and yellow perch
SALTWATER
  • Inshore Slam I - catch one each of a qualifying Striped Bass, Bluefish and Fluke within one calendar year
  • Inshore Slam II - catch one each of a qualifying Black Sea Bass, Tautog and Weakfish within one calendar year
  • Offshore Pelagics Slam - catch one each of a qualifying Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna and Dolphin within one calendar year
  • Marlin Slam- catch one each of a qualifying White and Blue Marlin within one calendar year
In 1983, the program began with 31 applicants. In 2017, 120 applications representing 20 different species were officially processed from 51 individuals. In 2019, 118 applications representing 20 different species were officially processed from 37 individuals. Since the program's modest beginning, the Division has granted Skillful Angler status to almost 4,000 anglers.

INTERESTING FACTS:

The most frequently entered species by skillful anglers in 2019 (adult, junior and catch and release categories combined) were Chain Pickerel with 24 applications followed by Largemouth Bass with 16 applications.

The following is a breakdown of applications received per species (all categories combined):

Freshwater:
Chain Pickerel (24), Largemouth Bass (16), Smallmouth Bass (12), Crappie (10), Northern Pike (7), Yellow Perch (6), Sunfish (6), Bullhead Catfish (6), Channel Catfish (5), Walleye (5), Rainbow Trout (3), Salmon, Atlantic Landlocked (2), Striped Bass Hybrid (2), Muskellunge (1), Lake Trout (1).

Saltwater:
Striped Bass (7), Bluefish (5), Black Sea Bass (2), Fluke (1), Tautog (1).

The Catch and Release Category had the greatest number of entries with 100 applications, followed by the adult category with 10 applications and the juniors with one application. There were nine First Fish applications received.

In 2019, the following were anglers were recognized:

  • First Fish: James Somes, Michael Paternostro, Trent Williamson, Vincent Wilmott, Trevor Koplik, Addison Ruczynski, Aedan Bowker, Jack Bowker, and Alex Latosh
  • Specialist Angler: Phil Juhring III, Justin Lerner, Larry Newman, Franck Ruczynski, and David Strojny
  • Master Angler: Christopher Pereira and Frank Ruczynski
  • Elite Angler: Phil Juhring III, Christopher Pereira and Frank Ruczynski
  • Panfish Slam: No qualifiers
  • Bass Slam: John Deroko and Phil Juhring

The 2019 Skillful Angler Winners are as follows:

ADULT CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Largemouth Bass: 6 lbs. 9 oz. caught by Randy Blaker of Pitman on July 20. Randy was fishing from a boat at Merrill Creek Reservoir when he landed the fish at 1:02 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with an Abu Garcia spinning rod and Shimano reel with a Strike King Dream Shot lure. The bass was 22.5 inches long.

Rainbow Trout: 6 lbs. 11 oz. caught by Paul Haertel of Clifton on April 6. Paul was fishing from the shore at the Paulinskill River when he landed the fish at 8:10 a..m. Six-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel with a spoon lure. The trout was 24.5 inches long.

Walleye: 11 lbs. 5 oz. caught by Donald Rolfs of Hopatcong on May 7. Donald was fishing from the shore at Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 11:00 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with spinning rod and reel with a Bomber Long A. lure.

ADULT CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass: 4 lbs. 2oz. caught by John Howell of Forked River on November 3. John was fishing from a boat on the Atlantic Ocean when he landed the fish. Thirty-pound test was used with an TICA rod and Shimano reel with a green crab as bait. The fish was 20 inches.

Fluke: 10 lbs. 5.6oz. caught by Paul Haertel of Clifton on September 10. Paul was fishing from a boat on the Atlantic Ocean when he landed the fish at 1:50 p.m. Forty-pound test was used with a whole squid as bait. The fluke was 29.5 inches.

Striped Bass: 56 lbs. 14.4 oz. caught by Jacob Turner of Phillipsburg on May 26. Jacob was fishing from a boat on the Atlantic Ocean when he landed the fish at 9:15 a.m. Forty-pound test wire line was used with a Seeker rod and Penn-Senator reel with a white bunker spoon lure.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY FRESHWATER SPECIES:

Bullhead: 15" caught by Frank Ruczynski of Bridgeton on April 2. Frank was fishing from a kayak on Parvin Lake when he landed the fish at 12:36 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Shimano Expride rod and Shimano reel with a Berkley Power Minnow lure.
and
Bullhead: 15" caught by David Strojny of Marlton on June 8. David was fishing from the shore at Strawbridge Lake when he landed the fish at 8:22 p.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a Penn spinning rod and reel with salami as bait.

Chain Pickerel: 26.75" caught by Frank Ruczynski of Bridgeton on August 27. Frank was fishing from a kayak on East Lake when he landed the fish at 5:40 p.m. Eight-pound test was used with a Shimano Expride rod and Shimano Stratic CI4 reel with a Berkley Power Minnow lure.

Channel Catfish: 31.5" caught by Edward Guth, Jr. of Bridgeton on November 3. Edward was fishing from a boat on Cedarville Lake when he landed the fish at 11:50 a.m. Fourteen-pound test was used with a medium spinning rod and a Baitrunner reel with shrimp as bait.

Crappie: 15.5" caught by Vincent Santroni of Mantua on May 27. Vincent was fishing from a boat on Laurel Lake when he landed the fish at 5:27 p.m. Ten-pound test braided line was used with a Shimano rod and Abu Garcia reel with a crappie jig lure.

Largemouth Bass: 22.13" caught by Robert Kulpa of Barnegat on July 8. Robert was fishing from a boat on Holiday Lake when he landed the fish at 9:18 a.m. Fourteen-pound test was used with a Baitcaster rod and reel with a Whopper Plopper lure.

Muskellunge: 45.5" caught by Phil Juhring, III of West Windsor. Phil was fishing from a boat on the Delaware River when he landed the fish at 7:55 a.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a Dobyns rod and Lews reel with a Darby Creek Lures prop bait.

Northern Pike: 40" caught by Justin Lerner of Basking Ridge on September 14. Justin was fishing from the shore of the Passaic River when he landed the fish at 4:15 p.m. Thirty-pound test braided line was used with a St. Croix rod and Penn reel.

Atlantic Landlocked Salmon: 20" caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on February 10. Christopher was fishing from the shore at Tilcon Lake when he landed the fish at 8:00 a.m. Six-pound test was used with an HT rod and Pflueger reel using a jig lure.

Smallmouth Bass: 22" caught by Phil Juhring, III of West Windsor on May 16. Phil was fishing from a boat on the Delaware River when he landed the fish at 3:50 p.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a Dobyns rod and Lews reel with a Jackall Rerange Jerkbiat lure.

Striped Bass Hybrid: 26" caught by Peter Rathjens of Wharton on May 10. Peter was fishing from the shore of Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 10:00 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Tsunami rod and Diawa reel with a Bomber stick bait.

Sunfish: 9.25" caught by Christopher Reutlinger of Hillsborough on April 17. Christopher was fishing from the shore of the Delaware - Raritan Canal when he landed the fish at 2:25 p.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a spinning rod and reel with a Berkley Flicker shad lure.

Lake Trout: 31.25" caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on May 8. Christopher was fishing from a boat at Merrill Creek Reservoir when he landed the fish at 4:45 p.m. Ten-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and Abu Garcia reel with an Xzone Swammer lure.

Walleye: 25.75" caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on June 7. Christopher was fishing from a boat on Lake Hopatcong when he landed the fish at 12:30 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and Ohero reel with a Bent Minnow lure.

Yellow Perch: 13.5" caught by John Boszko of Milltown on February 23. John was ice fishing on Lake Musconetcong when he landed the fish at 11:30 a.m. Twelve-pound test was used with a tip-up rod with a shiner as bait.

CATCH AND RELEASE CATEGORY SALTWATER SPECIES:

Black Sea Bass: 24.5" caught by Steve Moreyra of Clifton on August 20. Steve was fishing from a boat on the Atlantic Ocean off Brielle, NJ, when he landed the fish at 10:25 a.m. Fifty-pound braided test was used with a MH spinning rod and reel with spearing as bait.

Bluefish: 36" caught by Lawrence Newman of Brick on May 18. Lawrence was fishing from a kayak on the Manasquan River when he landed the fish at 5:45 a.m. Thirty-pound braided test was used with a St. Croix rod and Quantum reel with a popper lure.

Striped Bass: 47.5" caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on October 19. Christopher was fishing from a boat on the Raritan Bay when he landed the fish at 12:45 p.m. Thirty-pound test was used with a Shimano rod and Daiwa reel with bunker as bait.

Tautog: 23.75" caught by Christopher Pereira of Hopatcong on November 10. Christopher was fishing from a boat on the Atlantic Ocean when he landed the fish at 2:00 p.m. Thirty-pound test was used with an St. Croix rod and Diawa reel with a homemade jig and crab as bait.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Skillful Angler Recognition Program
Record Fish Program

bottom footer contact dep privacy notice legal statement accessibility statement nj home nj home citizen business government services a to z departments dep home

division of fish & wildlife: home | links | contact f&w
department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2020
Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 30, 2020