Book details fish species of New Jersey
Ron Bern moved to Somerset, New Jersey, from Anderson County, S.C., 40 years ago. For a person who had been used to having access to pristine fishing areas since the age of 6, Bern thought his fishing life was over when he moved to the Northeast.
The first weekend in his new house, however, he saw a car with a small boat attached sitting in his neighbor’s garage.
“I thought, ‘How ’bout this, another fisherman?’ ” he recalled.
The neighbor was Manny Luftglass, who has been Bern’s friend for the past four decades and has co-authored a number of fishing books with Bern, 76.
Their most recent publication, “Sport Fish of New Jersey: An Angler’s Guide,” was published last month. It was inspired last year by the fact that no significant handbook on fish exists for the state. The book explores the 84 species of fish in the freshand saltwater areas of New Jersey.
“We took each of the species found in the state waters, from creeks down the street to the edge of the continental shelf 100 miles offshore,” Bern said.
Each page shows a different kind of fish, complete with an illustration, description, identification, where and when to find it, the type of bait and tackle to use, state records, and food value.
“Lord knows, Manny and I have spent enough time fishing,” Bern said.
Research was also conducted with David Chanda, the director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and Jim Sciascia, the chief of information and education for the division. Even an expert fisherman such as Bern learned new information during this process.
Bern said the state record goal is a blue marlin that weighs 1,000 pounds. He also found out how the Largemouth bass came to be in New Jersey and how it is stocked.
He said that of the 38 freshwater species in the area, only seven are native to the state: chain pickerel, brook trout, pumpkinseed and redbreast sunfish, American eels, white catfish and bullheads.
“It makes for one of the greatest freshwater fisheries anywhere,” Bern said.
Bern said his favorite fish is the hybrid bass, a combination of a striped bass and a white bass, a hearty fish that is fast, fastgrowing and “amazingly powerful.”
He also likes carp, which he said are “unappreciated” here. One time on the Delaware River, Bern said, a carp fought him for 25 minutes.
“It is astonishing how strong they are,” he said. “It’s a wonderful fish. They are great fun to catch.”
Bern, who is a part-time resident of Naples, Fla., said New Jersey is one of the best-kept secrets for anglers. He said people assume the waters of New Jersey are polluted, but that is not the case.
“Fishing in New Jersey is better qualitatively and quantitatively than Anderson County, S.C., 70 years ago,” he said. “New Jersey is a fishing mecca.”
Bern said that with the publication of his latest book, he has said everything he wanted to say regarding fishing. Originally published in 1999, “Gone Fishin’: The 100 Best Spots in New Jersey” was updated and re-released as a special anniversary edition in 2008.
“Fish have given me so much pleasure in my lifetime,” he said.
Now, Bern may continue with his novel writing. Some of his past titles include “Mule Maddox,” its sequel “Billy’s Song,” and his first book, “The Legacy.” For more information about Bern’s publications, contact him at MuleMaddox@aol.com.