MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Like many of the anglers who arrived before the crack of dawn on Saturday at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, Joseph Antenucci of Rahway has been fishing as long as he can remember. And while folks had to wait until the official start time of 8 a.m. to cast their rods into the lake, fully stocked earlier in the month by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, it didn’t take long before Mr. Antenucci reeled in his first catch. 

According to the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website, each spring, approximately 570,000 rainbow trout are raised at the  Pequest Trout Hatchery and stocked into streams, ponds and lakes located throughout New Jersey. Nearly one-third of these trout, 183,460 await anglers when the season opens. The majority of trout will average 10½ inches. Some measuring up to 15 - 21 inches and weighing up to five pounds are also distributed in the early weeks of the season.

Around 10 a.m., Gerry O’Donnell of Landing reeled in a Rainbow Trout measuring approximately 20 inches and weighing around three and one half pounds, to the delight of his grandson Matthew O’Donnell of Springfield, who was accompanied by his uncle, Chris O’Donnell, also of Landing.

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Another longtime fisherman, Josepeh Picariello of Linden, noted that he began fishing with his father and uncle from about four years of age.  He enjoys the sport from land or sea, or standing in a freshwater stream.  Mr. Picariello said, “I love all kinds of fishing, and in general, just being one with the outdoors.”   

Franco Nacco, out celebrating an early 9th birthday with older cousin Lorenzo Nacco, both of Springfield, remarked, “fishing is cool!” The pair didn’t seem to mind the breezy conditions by the lake, and waited patiently together for a tug on their lines.

Kids of all ages, take note:  the Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club will hold its annual Fishing Derby at Echo Lake Park starting Saturday, April 15. Registrations will only be accepted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15. Sign up will take place at the registration booth at the gazebo on the lower lake. The Derby runs for three weeks and ends on May 6, 2017.  It's free for children 16 years of age and younger, and adults may enter for a nominal charge. For additional information email: info@nbfcc.org