NJ Skillful Angler Qualifying weight is 4 lbs.
( Esox niger )
These toothy members of the Pike family have not always been an abundant predator Gamefish of Lake Hopatcong. Back in 1852 it is believed that Maurice Decker made a trip to Liberty New York and returned to Lake Hopatcong with about 100 adult Pickerel which were the first to be stocked into the Lake. These fish have flourished to the point of making Lake Hopatcong one of the best pickerel lakes in the Tri-State area. Our 1997 1st place winner was Joe DeStefano #4905 with a 4 lb. 12 oz. Chainsides that taped 27 inches long with a 12 inch girth. 2nd Place was secured by Club Trustee Mike Rybak #4985 with his 4 lb. 9 oz. entry that was 26 inches long. 3rd place winner was Pablo Nieves # 5778 with a 4 lb. 7 oz. entry that taped 25+3/4 inches with a 12 inch girth. There were only 5 ounces separating all three winners and there were three more entries of fish over four pounds. Charlie McBride #6018 entered a 4 lb. 5 oz fish, Christian Ayola #6069 entered a 4 lb. 3 oz. fish and Bob Hoffman #6105 entered a 4 lb. 2 oz. fish. In addition to our Senior Members, Junior Member Dan Mayfield #5674 entered a 4 lb. 3 oz. fish to take 1st place in our Junior Division. All of the above fish met the four pound requirement and the anglers were all eligible to receive the State's Skillful Angler's Award. Our Historical Club Record of 6 lbs. 9 oz. was caught in 1987 by William Carmen. Our current Club Record of 5 lbs 12 oz. was caught by Ron Young in 1994 and the current State Record of 9 lbs. 3 oz. was caught back in 1957 from Lower Aetna Lake. The present World Record of 9 lbs. 6 oz. was caught in Georgia in 1961. Like other members of the Pike family the females have a tendency to grow faster and larger than the males. The average life span of the Chain Pickerel is ten years. Fish surveyed in Lake Hopatcong indicate the average four year old Pickerel to be 16.7 inches, the average five year old was 19.2 inches and the average six year old surveyed was 20.7 inches. There can be as much as three inches difference in fish of the same age or year class. A five year old male may be only 16 to 17 inches long while a female of the same year class may be 20 inches long. The fish entered were caught on Shiners, Herring and lures and four of the six fish over four pounds were caught in April.