First Recipient Of Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament’s Elite Angler Award

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces first recipient of Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament’s Elite Angler award


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Thomas Passwaters Sr. with one of his state-record catches, a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth bass

DOVER (April 26, 2017) – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife today announced the first recipient of  the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament’s new Elite Angler award is Thomas Passwaters Sr., of Milford, a longtime avid angler and tournament participant.

Anglers who earn Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament recognition for five different species within one calendar year will be designated as a Delaware Elite Angler and receive an award plaque commemorating their accomplishment. Any combination of saltwater and freshwater citations qualifies an angler for this award, although no more than two can be live-release awards.

Mr. Passwaters’ five qualifying trophy catches were:

  • Chain pickerel, 4 pounds, 7 ounces, caught from the Broadkill River
  • Crappie, 1 pound, 9 ounces, caught from Silver Lake, Milford
  • Largemouth bass, 6 pounds, 7 ounces, caught from Tubmill Pond
  • Yellow perch, 1 pound, 3 ounces, caught from the Nanticoke River
  • White perch, 1 pound, 3 ounces, caught from the Nanticoke River
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All five fish were weighed at official Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Stations, which include many fishing tackle dealers and bait shops throughout the state.

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The original Delaware Master Angler award was a trophy that was sought after by many an angler.

Passwaters received his first tournament citation in 1978 for a 6-pound largemouth bass – and still has that citation, which was signed by former Governor Pierre S. “Pete” duPont IV. In addition to receiving numerous Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament awards over the years, two of his proudest fishing moments were being crowned the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Master Angler of the Year in 1988 and 1989, the last two years that award was offered. More recently, he received the 2016 largest yellow perch award for a 2-pound, 3.2-ounce catch.

Passwaters installed a 120-quart cooler with an aeration system in the bed of his pickup truck for the sole purpose of keeping his trophy catches healthy and alive. “I am very passionate about trying to do all I can as an angler to maintain the health of my catches that I weigh in for the Tournament. I am proud to say that all five of the qualifying fish I submitted this year were kept healthy, weighed in as quickly as possible and released back to the waters from which they were caught,” he said, adding, “All of my fish were caught from shore, showing that you do not need a boat to participate in the Tournament.”

“The Delaware Elite Angler award is a new addition to this year’s Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament,” said Fish & Wildlife Fisheries Biologist and Tournament Director Bruce Cole. “Catching five different species of fish that meet the minimum weight requirements for Tournament recognition within one calendar year is a difficult task. The fact that Mr. Passwaters accomplished this feat so early in the year is astounding. It’s appropriate that someone with such a storied association with Delaware’s Sport Fishing Tournament be crowned Delaware’s first Elite Angler.”

For more information on the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament, including information on how to enter your big catch in the Tournament, click Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament and Live Release Awards, or call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914.

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