NJ Skillful Angler Qualifying weight is 4 lbs.
( Micropterus dolomieui )
This is without doubt, my personal favorite member of the sunfish family. First introduced into Lake Hopatcong way back in 1860 by Maurice Decker with fifty adult fish caught from Waywayanda Lake. During our 1997 contest there were only 4 ounces separating the 1st and third place winners and we had four other fish entered which were over three pounds. 1st place was won by Nick Sarinelli #4024 with a 3 lb. 11 oz. fish that taped 19-1/2 inches. Our 2nd place winner is one of our old time members, Joseph Santillo #2155 with a 3 lb. 10 oz. entry. Third place was won by Ray Kropinack #3484 with a 3 lb. 7 oz. entry that was 20 inches long. Ray's fish caught on November 4th, 1997 was the last entry I received for our 1997 contest. I was sorry to hear that Ray is no longer with us, he has gone to fish that great "Fishin' Hole" in the Heavens. Additional entries were Robert D. Passalacqua #5548 entered a 3 lb. 5 oz. 18+3/4 inch fish, Gary Bruzard #5890 entered a 3 lb. 4 oz. fish that was 19« inches long and "Turkey" John McKenzie #5797 had two nice Smallies, one was 3 lbs. 4 oz. 19 inches long and the other was 3 lbs 1 oz. and also 19 inches long. Our Club's Historical Record of 5 lbs. 12 oz. was caught by William Carmen back in 1988 and our current Club Record is 4 lbs. 5 oz. caught by Ralph Yannarelli in 1990. The current State Record of 7 lbs. 2 oz. was also caught in 1990 from Round Valley Reservoir. Unlike the Largemouth, the Smallmouth seems to prefer rocky structure over weed beds and slightly cooler temperatures. Every one of the above fish were reported to have been caught on "Herring". Although we didn't have any four pound entries in 1997 the number of three pounders caught should indicate a few four pounders should be caught during the 1998 season. Northern Smallmouths can live to be eighteen years old but twelve years seems to be and average for Lake Hopatcong. The 19 and 20 inch fish were probably in the nine to eleven year old bracket. The average length of a four year-old Lake Hopatcong Smallmouth is 14 inches at five years-old they average 16 inches at six years old they average 17 inches and 18 inches at seven years old. The World Record Smallmouth was 11 lbs. 15 oz. caught in Dale Hollow Lake, Kentucky back in 1955.