For Immediate Release - February 11, 2011

State Wildlife Officials Present 2010 Sport Fishing Awards

2010 season sets state record for largest bigeye tuna, honors first youth as angler of the year

BOSTON - February 11, 2011 - The first youth ever named Massachusetts freshwater Angler of the Year will be among those honored at this weekend's Department of Fish and Game (DFG) ceremonies recognizing those who reeled in the biggest fish of 2010 from Massachusetts lakes, ponds, streams, and coastal waters.

Two ceremonies honoring more than 80 of the state's top freshwater and saltwater anglers will be held at the Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Exposition at the DCU Center in Worcester. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) Director Wayne MacCallum will present the annual Freshwater Sportfishing Awards on Saturday, February 12, and Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) Director Paul Diodati will recognize winners of the Saltwater Fishing Derby on Sunday, February 13.

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

For the first time, a youth participant - 16-year-old Danny Grafton of Weymouth - has been named the Angler of the Year in the 2010 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards. This award, established in 2002, recognizes the sportsman or woman who weighs in the largest number of species that qualify under the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program. Grafton landed 14 qualified fish species, and also received a Gold Pin in the Youth Category for his 3 pound, 13 ounce white catfish caught in the Charles River.

"We hope young people and adults will be inspired to get out and enjoy fishing and other outdoor activities with their family and friends," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin, whose office includes DMF and MassWildlife.

MassWildlife's Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program 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.

Of the 22 winners in the adult gold pin category for 2010, one of the most impressive freshwater fish landed was a 13 pound, one ounce brown trout caught in Walden Pond in Concord by Chastity Puchtler of Waltham. Of the 21 winners in the youth gold pin category (age 17 and under), a four pound, 10 ounce bullhead caught from Sawdy Pond in Westport by 13-year-old Brandon Costa of Fall River was among the most exceptional catches. Costa also received the award for the largest striped bass caught in the Saltwater Fishing Derby with a 60 pound, eight ounce striper.

During the 2010 Saltwater Fishing Derby, there were 180 entries from nine different states and 36 anglers will be awarded trophies for their catches in Men's, Women's, and Junior categories. A new state record was established by Randy Parda of West Yarmouth, who landed a 231 pound bigeye tuna.

DMF also presented a "Skillful Skipper" award to Captain Jim Walsh of Lynn, for having three derby winning fish caught aboard his vessel, the "American Classic."

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 freshwater award program, fish must be weighed in on a state or town-certified scale.

MassWildlife, DMF, and the Massachusetts Environmental Police are hosting exhibits at the Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Exposition, which runs through February 14.

For a complete list of the 2010 winners, visit the links below:

The Department of Fish and Game (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.