For Immediate Release - February 10, 2012

State Fish and Wildlife Officials Present 2011 Sport Fishing Awards

Boxborough “Freshwater Angler of the Year” is Youngest in Contest History, four saltwater fishing records set

BOSTON – Friday, February 10, 2012 – This weekend, officials from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will host two ceremonies honoring more than 80 of the state's top freshwater and saltwater anglers at the Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Exposition at the DCU Center in Worcester.

On Saturday, February 11, DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildife) Director Wayne MacCallum will present the annual Freshwater Sportfishing Awards. On Sunday, February 12, DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin and Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) Director Paul Diodati will recognize winners of the Saltwater Fishing Derby. 

"Across the state, anglers of all ages and abilities can find spectacular lakes, ponds, rivers and coastlines for fishing," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "We're pleased to honor these outstanding anglers for their big catches."

Among those being honored this weekend is 12-year-old Trenton Anestis of Boxborough. Anestis is the youngest person to be awarded the Massachusetts Freshwater Angler of the Year in the history of the Freshwater Sports Fishing Awards Program.

Established in 2002, the Angler of the Year recognizes the sportsman or woman who weighs in the largest number of qualifying species. Anestis submitted 17 qualifying fish representing 16 different fish species. He also received a Gold Pin in the Youth Category for his 2-pound, 1-ounce bullhead caught in the Concord River. His closest competition for Freshwater Angler of the Year was his 9-year-old brother, Chase, who caught 12 qualifying fish.

Four saltwater state records were set during 2011 and four anglers received awards from DMF’s Saltwater Fishing Derby program.

Fifteen-year-old Ethan Lynch of Amesbury will be recognized for catching the largest blue shark on record, weighing in at 458 pounds, 2 ounces. Jesse Siegel of Charlestown caught a 495-pound porbeagle shark, Timothy Delude of Orleans caught a 630-pound thresher shark and Joe Canha of Vineyard Haven caught a record eight-pound Spanish mackerel.

"These awards honor some of the most skillful anglers in the Commonwealth and point to the incredible quality of fishing opportunities in our marine and inland waters,” said DFG Commissioner Griffin, whose office includes DMF and MassWildlife. “We hope these awards inspire young people and adults to get out and enjoy fishing and the many other outdoor activities Massachusetts offers."

As part of its Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program, MassWildlife awards bronze pins to adult and youth anglers who catch fish of certain minimum weight requirements in 22 species categories – and gold pins and commemorative plaques – to anglers who catch the largest fish in each category. Gold pin winners are the honorees in Saturday’s ceremony.

DMF’s Saltwater Fishing Derby awards pins to all qualifying entries in 21 species categories and presents trophies at the expo to anglers who landed the heaviest fish in each species category. Winners are chosen in three divisions: men, women and juniors (age 15 and younger). Three anglers were also recognized for their catches in the Catch and Release category of the saltwater derby.

There is also a "Skillful Skipper" award, which is presented to a for-hire captain who has the most derby winning fish caught on their boat. This year’s Skillful Skipper award went to Captain Dave Niemi of Captain John and Son’s of Plymouth for having four derby winning fish caught aboard their vessels.

To qualify for the saltwater fishing derby, entries must be caught by hook and line and weighed in at DMF-certified weigh stations. For the saltwater catch and release derby, fish should be measured on a measuring device to the nearest half inch, and a clearly discernable picture taken of both the measuring device and the fish, indicating total length. For the freshwater award program, fish can be weighed in at any state or town-certified scale.

DFG asks anglers to practice responsible fishing.  DMF’s Responsible Angler Practices brochure pdf format of Responsible Angler Practices
instructs anglers in areas how to properly handle and release fish, how to use tackle that minimizes unintended harm to fish, and reminds anglers to minimize fight time, properly dispose of trash and unwanted tackle, to use circle hooks, wide gap hooks, and barbless hooks, and to take steps to protect habitat while fishing.

MassWildlife likewise reminds anglers to help protect common loons, a species of special concern in Massachusetts, by following new regulations put in place for 2012 that prohibit the use of any lead fishing sinkers and lead jigs weighing less than 1 ounce in all inland waters (fresh water) of the Commonwealth. Examples of prohibited lead tackle weighing less than 1 ounce include split shot, keel weights, ice jigs, bottom-bumping jigs, lead sinkers, or jigs which are painted, "skirted", or otherwise covered with rubber or other substance.

MassWildlife and DMF are hosting exhibits at the Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Exposition, which is open February 10 through 12, 2012.

DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.