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Old 11-17-2004, 05:40 PM
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Default Jersey Coast Anglers Association Sportsman of the year

Ristori: Fantasia is named top sportsperson
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Star-Ledger Staff
Menhaden Project founder Len Fantasia received the annual Sportsperson of the Year award at Sunday night's Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) dinner/dance in Crystal Point Yacht Club, Point Pleasant.

Fantasia has put in countless hours since starting his crusade in 1988 to maintain local bunker populations in order to provide the forage which attracts and holds large game fish. His initial efforts resulted in reduction boats being moved 1.2 miles offshore while the few bait boats fishing then had to display the letter "B" and stay 0.6 miles from shore.

More recently, he formed the Menhaden Project with Greg Hall, and they joined with the JCAA in eliminating the giant reduction boats from state waters. Those who have enjoyed the great spring fishery for big bass under bunker schools can thank Fantasia for that sport as you can imagine how many schools of bunker would survive if the much larger number of bait boats now purse seining could push to within 0.3 miles of the beach.

Fantasia is a long-time member of Hi-Mar Striper Club and a former president. A proponent of catch-and-release fishing, he once caught a 37-pound striper, weighed it at a dockside scale, and then tagged it and spent 15 minutes in the water walking it until the bass was able to swim away.

The JCAA dinner was well attended and featured a talk by George Poveromo of Salt Water Sportsman and ESPN2 TV. Poveromo may have been the first angler to speak in favor of a saltwater fishing license in N.J. and not get run out of the state on a rail.

He emphasized the importance of having statistics to prove how important recreational fishing is to the economy, and noted that Florida's license led to the vote which eliminated netting in state waters and has resulted in a huge improvement in inshore fishing.

Poveromo also urged anglers to oppose Marine Protected Areas which have already been imposed in Florida but prevent all fishing for no good reason as any species in trouble can be better restored by conservation regulations.

Greg Hueth of the Shark River Surf Anglers accepted a plaque honoring the club's efforts in behalf of youth fishing.

The blackfish season opened yesterday and Dennis O'Brian of Bound Brook celebrated in appropriate fashion by boating a 12-pounder on Capt. Stan Zagleski's Elaine B. from Highlands. Zagleski said there were also a number of 6-and-7-pounders hooked.
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