Local kids take state's 'Fishing Challenge'

West Milford. About a dozen kids took part in a statewide fishing challenge at Shady Lake on Saturday.

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  • Charles Kim photos

About a dozen local children cast their lines into Shady Lake on Saturday as part of the state Departemtn of Environmental Protection's New Jersey Youth Fishing Challenge.

The West Milford location on Shady lake off Weaver Road, was one of several throughout the state taking part in the program offering free fishing to young anglers.

The DEP's 4th Annual Youth Fishing Challenge was designed to introduce families to New Jersey's outstanding freshwater fishing and to encourage children to avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco by pursuing fun activities, according to the state.

"New Jersey has some of the best freshwater fishing available and there are many advantages to participating in this event," DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. "Not only is fishing a great way to connect with nature, it's a fun activity to develop and appreciate over a lifetime while also learning good and safe habits."

The Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs Youth Fishing Challenge is geared to participants age 20 and younger.

There were 32 challenge locations in 17 counties this year, the state said in a press release.

The rules, age requirements and event times vary by challenge location, and winners are eligible to receive prizes for the fish they catch and must be present at the end of the event to claim prizes.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to enjoy fishing during the challenge but are ineligible for prizes.

The local event was run by resident Wyatt Walker.

The statewide Free Fishing Day allowed anglers of all ages to fish on June 8 without having to buy a license or a trout stamp. Other regulations, including size and daily catch limits, remained in effect.

A second Free Fishing Day is scheduled for Oct. 19, according to the state.

"Free Fishing Day provides a great opportunity for those who have never gone fishing or those who haven't fished in a while to try it again for the day, without having to purchase a license," Division of Fish and Wildlife Acting Director Dave Golden said. "The Youth Fishing Challenge also is a fun way for friends and families to spend time together outdoors and create memories."

The styate's Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs is an interdisciplinary, hands-on youth fishing education program for school-aged children sponsored by the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The goal of the program is to redirect youth from the temptation of using alcohol, drugs and tobacco by getting them involved in socially positive activities such as fishing, learning about the importance of clean water and supporting community service initiatives through stream cleanups and planting trees.

Locally, prizes were awarded for;

Biggest - 13 1/4 oz, Wayde Walker, age 9, bass

Longest - 12 inches, Danny Eccher, age 13, bass

Most caught - 24 Mixed Catch, Olivia Izzi, age 7

Most unusual catch - Nicholas Blakesley, age 8, a pumpkin seed sunny

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