Story by Tom P.

Pequest “Wide Open” Open House this weekend is fun-filled and educational. Calling all central and south Jersey flounder pounders to hook into the Recreational Fishing Alliance’s 5th Annual Bass River Classic Summer Flounder Tournament next Saturday.

Originally scheduled for the last weekend in March, this year’s free Pequest Open House was reset for Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4 because the heavy snow mid-March still had not melted enough for unfettered access to much of the grounds of the Pequest Trout Hatchery & Natural Resource Center.

“It (the snow) was still deep on the hiking trails, in the picnic area and around the fishing education pond, so it was decided to move the event to the first weekend in June to coincide with the start of National Fishing & Boating Week,” exposited Al Ivany, the chief of the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife’s bureau of information and education.

The wildly popular Open House historically primes the pump for the opening of the trout season, but this year it will serve as a launching pad for next Saturday’s “Free Fishing Day” in New Jersey: no license and/or trout stamp necessary in any water statewide.This is

This is a great way to sample the incredible freshwater angling opportunities, from park pond sunfish to mountain stream rainbow trout and everything finny in between.

The Open House runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. rain or shine. In excess of 50 exhibitors will be present, including fishing and hunting organizations and clubs, conservation groups, wood carvers, taxidermists, custom fly tiers, wildlife artists and beekeepers, among others.

A huge draw is the Hawg Trough where one can view the wide variety of gamefish and panfish propagated both at Pequest and the Hackettstown Hatchery. Youngsters from 8-16 will be able to cast their lines for submarine-size trout in the Fishing Education Pond, and a Kiddie Fishing Pool will be available for tykes.

There will be hunting and fishing seminars, lectures, casting lessons and fly tying demonstrations, and shooting at the archery and BB gun ranges to name a few of the activities.

Looking for that hard-to-find item? Then peruse, prowl ‘n pick through the many tables at the big Sportsmen’s Flea Market where new and used tackle, hunting equipment and all sorts of outdoor gear and goodies will be for sale.

When it’s time to chow, belly up to one or more of the food vendors on premises, or enjoy your pack-along lunch in the beautiful picnic area…then work it off with a hike over one of the marked trails winding through the tract.

Unless a service dog, no pets are allowed.

The Pequest Trout Hatchery & Natural Resource Center is located on Route 46 in Oxford, Warren County, and is very easy to get to. Plenty of free parking is available. Call 908-637-4173 or visit for additional information. See you there!

RFA Bass River Flounder Shoot Out: Next Saturday, June 10, more than a few of the best summer flounder (fluke) anglers in central and southern New Jersey will vie for the $1000 first place cash (a maximum two fish weighed in) and bragging rights competing in the Recreational Fishing Alliance’s 5th Annual Bass River Classic Summer Flounder Tournament.

The rain date is Sunday, June 11.

The event is presented by Viking Yachting Center and Breeze’s Bar & Grill on the Bass River.

Second place money is $750, with $250 going to the third place finisher. In addition, there will be calcuttas for the heaviest three fish limit and the heaviest single fluke. Adding even more intensity to the competition is $1000 to be awarded by the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Yamaha Motor Group to the angler that boats the overall heaviest fluke. That person must be an active RFA member prior to the start of the tournament.

There will a special rod and reel prize for youth anglers 12 years of age and younger.

All entrants 16 years of age and older will be required to have their 2017 Saltwater Registry.

The entry fee is $100 per boat, and the fishing area extends from Barnegat Inlet south to Absecon Inlet. Fishing time starts at 5 a.m. and the weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at Breeze’s. Contestants must be in line no later than 6 p.m. to have their flounder weighed. No exceptions! There is a mandatory captains meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 9 at Breezes Bar & Grill at the Viking Yachting Center on Route 9 in New Gretna.

All proceeds will support the efforts of the RFA fighting for the rights of recreational saltwater anglers and protecting jobs in the marine industry.

Call 888-564-6732 or check in at for additional information.

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