ROCKAWAY B0RO, NJ - The big one - tag No. 1814 -- has been landed!
The 8-pound trout that carried a $300 prize in Potbelly's Riverside Cafe's 9th annual Trout Fishing Contest was caught April 9 by Sam Grow of Rockaway, the second day of the state's trout fishing season.
The fish and the accompanying Visa gift card were purchased by the Rockaway Borough PBA. The monetary prize grew to $300 because the PBA's prize fish had not been caught the past two seasons.
Grow, a life-long resident of the borough who has been fishing the river for the last 35 years, is a nephew of Potbelly's owner Rob Grow who runs the contest. He was spin-fishing between the Jackson Avenue falls and the railroad trestle when he caught the monster fish.
The 5-pounder purchased by Potbelly's for the contest is still at large. The lucky angler who lands that beauty will receive a complete dinner for four with the trout as the entre prepared by Potbelly's chefs.
Rob Grow put 50 tagged rainbow, brown and tiger trout in the river before opening day and most of them have yet to be caught.
The Hacklebarney Chapter of Trout Unlimited donated $250 to purchase ten 3-pound trout and borough business owners, local anglers and hunters, Potbelly's customers and other outdoorsmen donated funds to help purchase the fish.
On opening day, Joshua Gilliland, 10, of Wharton was fishing with his father off the Main Street bridge when he became first young angler to land a fish; a state-stocked 11-inch brown trout. Gilliland was given a vintage metal tackle box as a prize.
Prizes of six boxed trout lures donated by local fishermen, boxes of trout flies donated by Trout Unlimited and gift certificates from local businessmen will be handed out to those who bring their live, tagged fish to the restaurant.
The contest will run throughout the season or until all the tagged fish are caught and the prizes handed out.
Those who have caught prize fish through the first five days of the season include: Abbygayle Smith, 13, of Rockaway; David Holmes of Dover; Wayne List of Sparta; Bob Sharp of Rockaway; Bob Williamson of Dover; Brad Garie of Dover; Jimmy Boyer (2) of Rockaway and Mike Copensky of Rockaway.
That would leave 40 contest fish still out there -- including tag No. 1821, the 5-pounder.