New Jersey hosts Free Fishing Day

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  • PHOTOS BY JANET REDYKE Eli and his grandpa fish off the dock at Highland Lakes’ Main lake. Eli later caught an extremely large fish.

  • Veterans fish at the lake at Owen Station.

  • Perspective catches wait to be weighed.

  • A donated barbeque treated veterans after a day of fishing.

Gone Fishin’, two words that creates a serene, relaxing picture on a lazy almost summer afternoon. That’s exactly what people across the country were doing on Free Fishing Day. In the Garden State, free fishing on Free Fishing Day is allowed in public waters without a license or trout stamp.

The tradition of free fishing in New Jersey began back in 2015 when the Division of Fish and Wildlife offered a spring and fall fish. In 2018, the spring date is June 9 and the second free date will be Saturday Oct. 20. The Oct. 20 date allows for the public to fish the fall stock of trout.

Young children benefit wholeheartedly from free fishing days. Not only does it allow for quality family time, it gets youngsters active and out into the great outdoors.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife displays a great photo on their website of a young girl and a father or grandfather figure in a boat. Next to the beaming girl is a poem:

Take me fishing,

Because I get the giggles,

When the boat bounces.

Take me fishing,

You can check about

Work later.

Take me fishing,

Because my wedding will

Be sooner than you think.

Area lakes, streams and rivers have abundant wild fish populations and New Jersey hatcheries like the Hackettstown and Pequest State Fish Hatcheries stock waterways with muskellunge, northern pike, bass, walleye, catfish, lake and rainbow trout.

On Saturday, June 9, the Double V Rod and Gun Club of Vernon sponsored a free fishing day at the Owen Station area of the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Roughly 35 disabled veterans from the Paramus Hospital, the Goshen Va., Garfield VFW and the Central Jersey Wounded Warrior program enjoyed a spectacular day of fishing. The annual event was organized by coordinator Bob Schmidt. Shop Rite, Wal-Mart, numerous area delis and sport shops all donated to the day and the barbeque that followed.

The Highland Lakes Fishing Derby also took place on Free Fishing Day with area adults and youngsters competing for the most fish caught as well as the biggest fish caught.

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