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Skillful Angler Program

Fishing Regulations New Jersey Freshwater Fishing

The Skillful Angler Program is designed both to supplement the New Jersey Record Fish Program and to acknowledge 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.

Saltwater species taken from a boat must have been caught from a boat that left from, and returned to, a New Jersey port during the same trip.

Anglers can now submit their application and photo(s) electronically! Program rules and steps to enter are found here NJFishandWildlife.com/skflang.htm. Anglers qualifying for a Skillful Angler award receive a certificate along with a Skillful Angler patch as a testament to their achievement. The Program has three main divisions: Adult (for anglers age 16 and older), Junior (under age 16) and Catch and Release (based on length). A clear, side-view photo that allows accurate species identification must be included with each application. Additional good quality (and high resolution) photos with the angler are welcome and appreciated.

The Skillful Angler Program recognizes different levels of fishing expertise. An angler who submits five applications of qualifying size for the same species will receive a Specialist Certificate and patch. An angler who submits five applications of qualifying fish of different species will receive a Master Certificate and patch. Catch 10 or more qualifying fish within the year, and the angler will earn an Elite Angler Certificate and patch.

For new anglers, the Program also recognizes your first fish caught no matter the age of the angler. Qualified anglers will receive a First Fish certificate. There are also four “Slam” categories — an Inshore Slam 1, Inshore Slam 2, Offshore Pelagics Slam and Marlin Slam. For the Inshore Slam 1, an angler must submit qualifying applications for a striped bass, bluefish and fluke. For the Inshore Slam 2, an angler must submit qualifying applications for black sea bass, tautog, and weakfish. The Offshore Pelagics Slam will be obtained if an angler submits qualifying applications for bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna and dolphin. For the Marlin Slam, an angler must submit qualifying applications for a white marlin and a blue marlin.

Each month, the leaders of each category and species will be posted on our Skillful Angler Leader Board webpage. At the end of the year, special recognition is given to anglers who catch the largest fish in each species category. The winner of each category is sent a special certificate recognizing his/her accomplishment along with a winner’s patch as the best of New Jersey’s Skillful Anglers.

Fish must be measured from the tip of the nose (with mouth closed) to the tip of the tail. For catch and release categories, the fish must be measured and photographed alongside a ruler. For Adult/Junior Division, fish must be weighed and measured by a fishing license agent, tackle shop or authorized Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.

Anglers must submit a photograph of the fish caught, alongside a ruler for clear identification and measurement verification. Be sure the rule markings are legible. All photos become the property of the NJDFW and may be used for promotional purposes.

To apply, go to: www.NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/fwfisheries/skflangapp-fresh.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

Bowfin

6

4

25

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

45

Tiger Muskie

15

10

42

Yellow Perch

1 lb., 8 oz.

1

13

White Perch

1.8

1.4

14

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.

New!

Email your Skillful Angler entry and photo from any device!

State Record Freshwater Sport Fish

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Record Fish Program honors anglers who catch the largest of select species of freshwater and saltwater fish. Record size is based on weight alone; there are no line classes. Currently there are 31 freshwater species eligible for entry into the program.

Anglers are reminded that the objective of the Record Fish Program is to increase the awareness of fishing opportunities for species that are regularly sought and routinely found in the freshwaters or off the coast of New Jersey.

Anglers should also be aware that several procedural changes are now in effect for the Record Fish Program. First, there are different applications for freshwater and saltwater species. Second, for freshwater species, it is now mandatory that a freshwater biologist confirm the identification and weight of any potential record fish within three days of it being caught. Anglers must call Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries (north/central) 908-236-2118; (south) 609-259-6964, or the Hackettstown Hatchery at (908) 852-3676 (Warren County) to make arrangements. Hours are Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. These offices have a certified scale on site, so an entry can be weighed and identified. Depending on the time and location of your catch, you may elect to have the fish weighed on a local certified scale, but you must still have a freshwater biologist personally confirm the identification and weight at one of the above offices. Please note that all scale certification requirements still apply, including a valid Certificate of Inspection/Test Report and current Registration Certificate issued by the county Office of Weights and Measures.

Entry deadline: Applications must now be submitted no later than one month after the date of catch. All other program rules still apply.

For a complete list of state record fish or to print an application with complete program rules, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s website at NJFishandWildlife.com/recfish.htm.

New Jersey State Record Freshwater Sport Fish

Species

lbs.

oz.

Year

Angler

Where Caught

Bass, Largemouth

10

14

1980

Robert Eisele

Menantico Sand Wash Pond

Bass, Rock

1

5

1982

Eric Avogardo

Saddle River

Bass, Smallmouth

7

2

1990

Carol Marciniak

Round Valley Reservoir

Bluegill

3

0

1990

Dom Santarelli

Farm Pond in Pennington

Bowfin

11

8.5

2017

Pierce Dopkin

Mantua Creek

Bullhead, Brown

4

8

1997

Gary Schmidt

Lake of Woods, Ft. Dix

Carp

47

0

1995

Billy Friedman

South Branch of Raritan River

Carp (Archery)

45

6

2014

Adam Faatz

Greenwood Lake

Carp, Grass

55

8

2011

Jack Demsey, Jr.

Curlis Lake

Carp, Grass (Archery)

76

11

2020

Daniel E. Sandorff

Delaware River

Catfish, Channel

33

3

1978

Howard Hudson

Lake Hopatcong

Catfish, White

14

4

2004

Timothy Jasko

Dallenbach Pond

Crappie, Black

4

8

1996

Andy Tintle

Pompton Lake

Crappie, White

3

11

2009

William Lewis

Mercer Lake

Eel, American

6

13

2005

David J. Payne

Round Valley Reservoir

Muskellunge

42

13

1997

Bob Neals

Monksville Reservoir

Muskie, Tiger

29

0

1990

Larry Migliarese

Delaware River

Perch, White**

3

1

1989

Edward Tango

Forest Hill Lake

Perch, Yellow

2

6

1989

Gene Engels

Holiday Lake

Perch, Yellow*

4

4

1865

Charles Abbott

Crosswicks Creek

Pickerel, Chain

9

3

1957

Frank McGovern

Lower Aetna Lake

Pickerel, Redfin

1

13

1982

Gerald Humphrey

Lake Assunpink

Pike, Northern

30

8.5

2009

John Viglione

Pompton Lake

Salmon (Landlocked)

8

5

2018

Runelvy Rodriguez

Lake Aeroflex

Shad, American

11

1

1984

Charles Mower

Delaware River

Striped Bass

51

0

2002

John Christian

Great Egg Harbor River

Striped Bass, Hybrid

16

4

1999

Bill Schmidt

Culvers Lake

Sunfish, Pumpkinseed

1

8

1987

Daryl Donalson

Farm Pond in Burlington County

Trout, Brook

7

3

1995

Andrew DuJack

Rockaway River

Trout, Brown

21

6

1995

Lenny Saccente

Round Valley Reservoir

Trout, Lake

32

8

2002

Greg Young

Round Valley Reservoir

Trout, Rainbow

13

0

1988

Gene Rutkoski

Lake Hopatcong

Trout, Sea Run Brown

— Vacant — (Minimum Weight 5 lbs.)

Walleye

13

9

1993

George Fundell

Delaware River

* Denotes historical record
** Denotes fish has been certified by the IGFA as a world record