Salmon caught in Lake Aeroflex breaks record Largest ever landlocked salmon caught in NJ
Mhay Rodriguez with her state record landlocked salmon, caught on June 2 at Lake Aeroflex, Andover.
By Laurie Gordon ANDOVER — It was hot and humid on Saturday, June 2, when Mhay Rodriguez, of Northvale, NJ, happened to venture to Lake Aeroflex. Little did she know the surprise the day would hold. It started with an unsuccessful run of luck, but then, fate took a 180-degree turn and Rodriguez ended up catching an eight-pound, five-ounce salmon that was 23 ¾ inches long and had a girth of 15 inches. Turns out it was the largest landlocked salmon caught in history in the state of New Jersey. The previous record was an eight pound salmon caught back in 1951, so this change has been a long time coming. The state has to give its final nod on the record, which is a matter of formality, but fisher folks in these parts are pretty excited. Rodriguez started fishing after meeting Thomas Palmier in 2014. “Palmier has been fishing since he was six years old, but had stopped fishing regularly for almost 10 years," Rodriguez said. "However, after we met, Thomas purchased a boat and he began to teach me how to fish. Since then, we have been fishing for trout almost every weekend and for salmon about six times a year.” On June 2, they decided to go to Aeroflex because it's close to Sparta where Palmier's parents live. “We began fishing around 8:00 am,” Rodriguez said, “And after fishing for about 40 minutes we were very disappointed because we had not gotten a bite even though we had six lines out. We were not sure for how long we were going to fish because the weather conditions were not good. It was sunny, the water was calm and the fish were not biting.” Accustomed to catching salmon and a few rainbow trout when at Lake Aeroflex, they just weren't having any luck. That suddenly changed. “When the fish hit I was laying on my back on the boat and I struggled to get the rod off the rod holder," Rodriguez said. "Honestly, at the moment I wasn’t sure it was a fish, I thought it could be snagged." But Palmier said they were on 50 feet of water, and that the line that was hit was only 20 feet deep. They weren't sure what to expect. “I began to reel in with little excitement,” Rodriguez recalled. “To my surprise, the fish began to pull drag and [Palmier] had to remind me to pump and reel like he had taught me while we were fishing for salmon in Ontario last year. After that I began to feel excited, but once the fish began to jump out of the water, I got a little nervous because I did not want to lose the fish. As the fish was coming closer to the boat I kept thinking, 'You can do this, you can do this. Just take your time.' It took me like 10 minutes to bring the salmon in.” Luckily for Rodriguez, unhooking the fish was not an issue, because it came off the spoon on its own. “[Palmier] struggled to net the fish,” Rodriguez said, “But once in the boat he said, 'I think this is a state record fish' and immediately called Andover Hunt & Fish to let them know we would bring the salmon to weigh it.” They didn't have a cooler that day because they were planning to release everything they caught. The fish would have to make it the few miles to Andover Hunt & Fish. It did. “As we were driving, [Palmier] went into the state website to find out about the state record for landlocked salmon,” Rodriguez said. “To our surprise, the salmon we caught turned out to be 8.5 pounds, just a big bigger than the historical state record.” “We were very excited when they arrived with the salmon,” said Garrett Kazar of Andover Hunt & Fish. “To have a state record set after so many years is just amazing. It was a big thrill for everyone at the store to be the ones to do the weigh in.”