On March 30, 2012, the winning numbers were drawn for an amazing, record setting Mega Millions lottery jackpot of over $656,000,000.Â And, strange as it may seem, not one NJSWF member held the winning ticket.Â But, donât feel bad for them.Â Apparently they were all saving up their luck for the next night at the 5th Annual New Jersey Saltwater Fisherman Banquet, because what happened there was just as amazing and record setting in its own right!
Over 150 members and their guests showed up at the Captainâs Inn in Forked River, NJ for a night of fun, food, freebies, fundraising and fish stories.Â And everyone got what they came for.Â The goal was not only to have a great time, but also to surpass last yearâs contribution of $1,250 made to the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of sport fishermen.
After checking in and receiving their tickets for the silent auction, the attendees were treated to a tasty assortment of cheeses, vegetables, salads and various hors d'oeuvres.Â Most of the appetizers were consumed while perusing the eight banquet tables rich with prizes donated by our very generous sponsors.
Over 120 separate prizes made up the silent auction this year.Â Rods, reels, plugs, spoons, flies, jigs, sinkers, rod racks, terminal tackle, gift certificates for merchandise, full boat fishing charters and open boat trips, tackle boxes, gaffs, and much, much more made up a vast array of treasures waiting to go home with their lucky winners.Â âWow!Â This just gets bigger and better, and our sponsors get more and more generous every year!â exclaimed NJSWF founder, Rod Houck.
Before the main course, the guests were officially welcomed and a moment of silence was observed in memory of long time NJ Saltwater Fisherman member Dennis Kesolitz (kezsr), who we sadly lost last year to cancer.
Dinner was delicious and included filet mignon, stuffed chicken breast, Chilean sea bass, shrimp & scallop scampi, vegetables, pasta and more.Â It was followed by a heavenly slice of chocolate confusion cake.
The seemingly impossible task of giving away all of the prizes before the night ended fell to Captain Joe Gogan and yours truly.Â With the help of my daughter Katie pulling the tickets, the giveaways were underway.Â For the next two hours, a steady stream of lucky winners made their way up to claim their spoils.
The last drawings of the night were the grand prizes.Â These last three prizes were collectively worth over $1,200.Â The first winner was Bob McNamee who, when his number was called for a prize worth $450, promptly stood up and donated it back to the RFA!Â A truly magnanimous gesture!
The next winner was Skip Rosati who took the 1st runner up prize of assorted fishing tackle.Â Finally, in a wonderful display of karma, the grand prize winner of over $600 worth of assorted fishing tackle was Bob McNamee!Â This time he kept his prize, and deservedly so.
Once again, a record was set, and NJSWF proudly presented a check for $1,950 to Captain Adam Nowalsky, Chairman of the NJ Chapter of the RFA, beating last year's donation by $700!
In the end Captain Adam summed it up best.Â âI don't really think âThank youâ says enough.Â The NJSWF community has been tremendous in supporting those that support the state's fishermen since the site's inception.Â Every year you all have outdone yourselves, and this year was no exception.Â I had a wonderful time and thank everyone involved from Rod on down.Â You all are what fishing is about, thank you!Â And a special thank you to Bob McNamee for his incredible gesture of generosity.Â (It was) simply astounding.â
Please support our sponsors and contributors who make magical nights like this one possible.
A Thank You To Our Members and Sponsors From The RFA
See Full Banquet Photo Gallery