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Skillful Angler Program

Fishing Regulations New Jersey Freshwater Fishing

You can be a part of the Skillful Angler Program recognizing anglers’ talents (and luck) at catching remarkable fish in New Jersey! This program is sure to please everyone from the newest angler—young or old—to seasoned anglers with decades of experience.

With three divisions (Adult for age 16+, Junior for under age 16 and Catch and Release based on length) and eight categories, there are loads of opportunities for qualifying fish to earn the angler a series of personalized certificates suitable for framing to commemorate your outstanding catch!

The program acknowledges that many anglers catch freshwater and marine fish that are not record size but are still worthy of recognition because the size and weight of the fish sufficiently tested the angler’s skill. Open to resident and non-resident anglers. All fish must be caught in New Jersey waters using a hook and line during legally open seasons.

Which category will you achieve?

  • Specialist Angler—catch five qualifying fish of the same species
  • Master Angler—catch five qualifying fish of different species
  • Elite Angler—catch 10 or more qualifying fish within one year
  • First Fish—catch your first fish of any size or species

Three additional categories may bring out your competitive nature. Personalized certificates are also awarded for the Slam Series which includes:

  • Trout Slam—catch one each qualifying rainbow, brook and brown trout
  • Bass Slam—catch one each qualifying small and largemouth bass
  • Panfish Slam—catch one each qualifying sunfish, crappie and yellow perch

Fish must be measured from the tip of the nose (with mouth closed) to the tip of the tail. For Adult/Junior categories, fish must be weighed and measured by fishing license agents, tackle shops or authorized Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologists.

Anglers must submit two clear photographs of the fish caught, one at the site of the catch and one with the fish alongside a ruler for clear identification and measurements as noted above. Take time to compose a good quality (and high resolution) photo to submit with your application. Try staging a pleasant, scenic shot with an uncluttered background. The best photo may be selected for publication in this Digest next year! Include your e-mail address or daytime cell phone number on back of the photo; we may contact you for a digital copy of your print.

Each month the leader of each division/category for all species will be posted on our Skillful Angler Leader Board web page. At the end of the year, special recognition is given to anglers who catch the largest fish in each species category. The winners are sent a customized certificate recognizing his or her accomplishment as the best of New Jersey’s Skillful Anglers.

Special recognition isn’t the only program benefit. When anglers submit their entries, data of interest to our biologists (such as the fish’s weight, length, girth and the date, time and catch location) becomes available which may reveal insights about the waterbody from where the fish was hooked or as an indicator of the condition of a particular fishery. Combined data from many anglers can create a meaningful freshwater fisheries data set.

This annual program starts fresh every January so be sure to enter your qualifying catches each year. For more information visit our website at www.NJFishandWildlife.com/skflang.htm.

Apply online at: NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/sklflang-appform.pdf

Minimum Requirements for Each Freshwater Species

Species

Adult Weight (lbs., oz.)

Junior Weight (lbs., oz.)

Catch & Release (inches)

Largemouth Bass

6

4

21

Smallmouth Bass

4

3

19

Striped Bass Hybrid

8

6

24

Striped Bass

30

25

40

Bullhead

2

1 lb., 8 oz.

14

Carp

25

20

35

Channel Catfish

10

8

29

Crappie

2

1 lb., 8 oz.

14

Muskellunge

20

15

40

Yellow Perch

1 lb., 8 oz.

1

13

Chain Pickerel

4

3

24

Northern Pike

10

8

34

American Shad

7

5

24

Brook Trout

3

2

19

Brown Trout

8

5

25

Lake Trout

12

8

31

Rainbow Trout

5

3 lbs., 8 oz.

23

Salmon, Atlantic Landlocked

4

3

20

Sunfish

1

12 oz.

9

Walleye

6

4 lbs., 8 oz.

24

The New Jersey State Record Fish Program requires a separate application from this Skillful Angler Program and is based on weight alone. Scale certification ­documentation and a weighmaster’s signature are necessary. Other rules apply. Visit Fish and Wildlife’s website at NJFishandWildlife.com for a complete list of current state records.