J. B. Kasper founded The Delaware River Fishermen's Association (DRFA) in 1987 for the purpose of giving fishermen a unified voice for their rights on the river. Some of their early accomplishments included working to get uniform regulations between NJ and PA, fighting against the stocking of salmon in the river by New Jersey and petitioning the Trenton Power plant to grant fishing access to their warm water discharge reservoir .
The DRFA was also instrumental in convincing New Jersey to impose a six fish limit on shad to match the limit set by Pennsylvania (see letter).
J. B. Kasper
J.B. Kasper presided as president of the club for the first two years but stepped down to focus his attention on his Guide Service and his outdoor writing career. J. B. Kasper turned the president position over to VP Joe Wildberg who continued the club's mission of standing up for fishermen's rights but also worked with other clubs and environmental groups to monitor pollution and excess development on and along the river. The club became very popular among fishermen and its membership quickly grew to several hundred members. Initial dues for a membership were $10 for individual and $15 for a family (see membership).
The DRFA also worked to keep the river clean by scheduling clean ups along the river (see projects) at such places as the Titusville shoreline, Fireman's Eddy access area, Phillipsburg launch ramp, Mercer County launch ramp and the Trenton Warf. The club also offered a $200.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons caught breaking into a fisherman's car while he or she is on the river fishing (see reward).
The club began its transition into a fishing club when several members discussed going fishing with other club members to get to know each other better. This of course led to more fishing trips among club members and eventually lead to friendly competition. Members decided to begin having some fishing tournaments and scheduled their tournaments to coincide with their clean up schedule. Realizing they had enough money in the treasury, they decided to award prizes to the winners; however it was decided to keep the prize money low in order to keep the competition friendly. The club was now geared more toward fishing than its original purpose of advocating for the rights of fishermen. Suffice it to say that the club more or less evolved into a fishing club through a love for fishing and camaraderie among its members.
By the time Joe Wildberg resigned as president in 1992 to move back to Michigan, his home state, the transition into a full fledged fishing club was complete. Bob Lippencott was elected president in 1993 and served for one year before Rich Morgan took over the presidency in 1994. During this time, the DRFA sponsored a Bass Buddy tournament out of the Royal Marina in Cinnaminson, NJ with a top prize of $1000 plus a bonus prize of $100 for the DRFA member placing highest. Rich left at the end his second year to concentrate on his printing business and John Strada became president in 1996. When John Strada took over in 1996, membership had dwindled down to 75 members; however, under John's leadership membership grew rapidly to over 400 members.
On the 21st day of May, 1997 the Delaware River Fishermen's Association was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization. By this time the DRFA was involved in two tournaments that were not part of the club's regular schedule, one was the Bass Buddy tournament mentioned earlier and the other was the Clark's Landing Catfish Classic. The club did all the busy work such as weighing fish and providing refreshments at the tournament and in return received a nice donation. When Clark’s Landing discontinued the Catfish Classic Tournament, John initiated an open catfish tournament dubbed the "Big Cat Shootout" (see application) which was open to the public for a fee of $100.00 per boat. This tournament was very successful in generating revenue for the club and at one time boasted an entry of 99 boats, one short of John's goal of 100 boats.
When John left in the middle of 2002 to move to Florida, Pete Antoniewicz, club secretary at the time, assumed the duties of president and in 2003 Pete was elected to the position. Pete served as president for one year during which time he initiated a youth fishing tournament which was held at the Byram Ramp in New Jersey the first year. In its second year, the youth tournament was moved to Snug Harbor Marina on the Neshaminy Creek in Croydon, PA (see application) where it is presently held. The Youth Fishing Derby, as it is called today, includes a barbeque plus a trophy and t-shirt for each child. Pete carried on efforts initiated by John Strada that helped increase regular tournament participation from approximately 20 members per event to around 40 members per event. Pete was also editor of the newsletter at this time.
In 2004 when Steve Raulfs was elected president, the club was holding regular monthly meetings on the last Thursday of the month at their original location at the Sportsmens Center on route 130 in Bordentown, NJ. Attendance at meetings was fair at best. Steve realized that the base membership had to travel a good distance to attend the regular monthly meetings and decided to look for a new meeting place. In May of 2005 the meetings were officially moved to Dick’s Sporting Goods store on Franklin Mills Blvd in NE Philadelphia. Attendance at the regular monthly meetings increased dramatically along with an increase in memberships. Steve served as president for six years from 2004 thru 2009.
Scott McDonough was elected president in 2010 and served thru 2016. During Scott’s term the club again had to move its meeting location. In October of 2013 Dick’s informed the club that the company was in the process of eliminating the Franklin Mills store’s conference room and making it a storage and shipping hub for online orders. The club secured a new meeting place at the Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol PA; however, the meetings are now on the last Wednesday of the month. The Youth Fishing Derby was also relocated from Snug Harbor Marina (due to unsafe conditions on the docks) to the Pennsylvania Yacht Club on State Road in Bensalem, PA.
In 2017 John Pedrick was elected president. John is a retired Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission officer and sits on the board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council for American Eels and Striped Bass.
The club currently holds ten fishing tournaments a year, plus our Youth Fishing Derby . Check our tournaments page for details.
To learn more about the club, please browse through our website or visit us at our regular monthly meeting.
All interested sportsmen and sportswomen are invited to attend and join the organization.
(Special thanks to J. B. Kasper, Scott Morgan, Sam Shiels, John Strada, Pete Antoniewicz and Matt Kicinski for providing their insight to this history)