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May 17, 2004


Seasoned anglers and newcomers alike will find something of interest at the Pequest State Trout Hatchery’s Open House and Fish Festival, scheduled for May 22 & 23 in Oxford, Warren County. This is the 20th Open House celebration at the hatchery, which has been in operation since 1982.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (Division) raises more than 700,000 trout annually at Pequest for stocking in publicly accessible waters throughout New Jersey. In celebration of that and of the opening of trout season, an open house is held every year at Pequest. Until now the open house was always scheduled for the weekend prior to opening day, but this year the Division decided to shift the event to May to take advantage of better weather.

‘The Fish Festival offers a great opportunity to learn about fishing in the Garden State, as well as the excellent family oriented opportunities it provides” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Martin J. McHugh. “From the beginning angler to the seasoned sportsmen, there will be something for everyone.” “I encourage folks to come to Warren County and spend the day(s) enjoying the Fishfest and all that this beautiful area has to offer.”

The focal point of this year’s event is a giant mobile aquarium that will host continuous fishing demonstrations from a bevy of angling pros. The huge tank will be stocked with a variety of warmwater fish from the Division’s Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery. Get set for tips from experts like Ardent Angler radio host and guide Chris Gatley, Musky Daze guide John Brylinski, saltwater fly guide Richard Kress and Asbury Park Press writers Karen Wall and Chris Lido. In addition, representatives from New Jersey Trout Unlimited, The Newark Bait and Fly Casters, The Knee Deep Club and The Jersey Coast Anglers will demonstrate various types of fishing equipment and allow visitors to personally try out different rods. How-to demonstrations will be offered including proper fish handling, cleaning, filleting and cooking.

The New Jersey Fishing Show will be present and participants can meet staff from New Jersey’s new and only television show dedicated to fishing in the Garden State. Division staff will also be on hand to answer questions about freshwater fisheries management and tools used in the research and management of freshwater fisheries will be on display. For children activities include a gill net maze, aquatic insect safari, fish printing and fish feeding. In addition, there will be a living history encampment featuring early fishing tools and techniques, wildlife artists and taxidermists who specialize in fish, and an air rifle range set up for the public by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.

The Fish Festival is a great opportunity to take advantage of all New Jersey has to offer in the ways of fish and fishing. Admission is free and hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The Pequest facility is located nine miles west of Hackettstown on Route 46.

* And don’t forget, New Jersey’s Free Fishing Days are coming up on June 12 and 13! Attending the Fish Festival is an excellent way to pick up some fishing tips to take out to your favorite waterway, and hopefully help you land “the one you’ll never forget”.

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