SUMMIT, NJ — Carl Hozub of Summit caught the largest smallmouth bass in the catch and release freshwater species category in the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2016 Skillful Angler Program.
“I saw a flyer for the program in a sporting goods store and thought it was cool,” Hozub told LocalSource over the phone on Feb. 23. “I thought it would be a challenge and I’m always striving to get recognized for a notable catch.”
Hozub participated in the program last year and plans to participate next year as well. According to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s website, Hozub’s fish measured 20.5 inches and was caught on a boat in Merrill Creek Reservoir. A 5-inch Savage Gear 3-D crawfish on a half-ounce No Tech jig was the lure.
“Fishing is one part knowledge, one part skill and research, and of course there’s always an element of luck,” Hozub said. “I usually try to catch largemouth bass but because they live in the same territory there’s crossover. They’re a very aggressive fish that eats a multitude of things. They’re known to jump. Getting them to bite and reeling them in is an accomplishment.”
The majority of freshwater fish submissions were for largemouth bass with the smallmouth bass coming in second.
“The smallmouth bass is very common in this area,” Hozub said. “Nationally, they’re one of the most sought-after fish. Retailers appeal to them and there’s competitions on television.”
Hozub has his own YouTube channel and his own following online. He demonstrates how to catch the biggest fish.
“I teach people a technique that’s used mostly in the West so a lot of people in this area aren’t familiar with it,” Hozub said. “My YouTube channel is focused on targeting trophy-ized fish. I’ve had it since 2012 and I enjoy it. I like getting feedback from people and helping teach people new things.”
Hozub has a feeling he will be successful in next year’s competition as well.
“I have a feeling I might win again,” he said.
According to the website, this was the 34th year of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Skillful Angler Program. It recognizes 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 category of the freshwater and marine species category.
“There are three categories for entries,” Jessica Griglak, NJ State Trout In Classroom coordinator and education coordinator, who oversees the management of the Skillful Angler Program at the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, told LocalSource over the phone on Feb. 23.
“They consist of adult, junior and catch and release. There are also categories for 20 different freshwater fish and 20 different saltwater fish. Anyone who fishes in New Jersey is welcome to enter. We present a certificate to each fisherman who enters and then for the largest fish in each category. We require that the adult and junior categories have their fish weighed by a weight master
. The catch and release category is measured with a ruler and is photographed by the ruler and sent in to us with the entry. Applications to enter are available on our website.”