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Teen angler from New Jersey is first TroutBlitz winner
7/7/2015
Credit:
TU press release
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Alex Puchualski, an 18-year-old angler from East Rutherford, N.J., recorded 16 observations for Trout Unlimited’s TroutBlitz between May 23 and June 30, earning him top honors in the inaugural month of the competition and a 72-piece attractor fly assortment from TU corporate partner FlyAssortments.com.

Puchalski, who’s been fly fishing for just three years, started fishing with conventional tackle for bass, panfish and pickerel in the lakes and rivers around his home.

“I was at a lake with my dad, and saw some kids fishing, so I asked my dad for a rod,” he told TU today. “Then, a friend of mine started fly fishing, and it looked like a lot of fun. So I started fly fishing.”

In order to claim top honors for June, Puchalski photographed 16 different trout specimens from fabled rivers like the South Branch of the Raritan, the Musconetcong and the Pequest. In fact, his first fly rod trout came from the South Branch of the Raritan on a fly he tied himself.

While Puchalski claimed the top prize for June, the July TroutBlitz angler science is already under way. Anglers who record the most trout observations between July 1 and July 31 are eligible to win another 72-piece fly package from FlyAssortments.com. To participate, simply visit the TroutBlitz page via the iNaturalist interface, create a free account and start fishing and taking photos.

“We had strong participation from a number of anglers the first month,” said Jack Williams, TU’s senior scientist. “It may not seem like much, but this is strong data that we can use to catalog native trout persistence, the presence of non-native trout in waters where they don’t belong and the overall health of the ecosystems where our anglers are catching fish.”

In order to get the best possible data, TU’s science team asks that anglers do their best to take photos that make trout identification easy—visit the TroutBlitz manual for good tips on photographing live trout. For the best data, the fish should be alive and near the water when photos are taken. Photographs under water are even better.

“We certainly don’t have a problem with anglers harvesting trout where that is allowed,” Williams said, “but we get better data from the photos if the fish are in good shape when the picture is taken. For the best results, shoot the photos of your fish immediately after you pull it from the water, and immerse the fish back in the water before shooting additional photos.”

FlyAssortments.com will offer two additional fly packages for the July TroutBlitz. The angler who records the most observations will win a 72-piece assortment, and the angler who records the greatest number of diverse trout species and subspecies will receive a smaller 36-piece fly package. Visit www.tu.org/blog for TroutBlitz updates, and to see photographs of the fly assortments anglers can win just by fishing for science.

Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.