Matthew, a smiling fisherman who waves at passing motorists

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WALL TOWNSHIP — Matthew, the smiling fisherman, regularly stationed at Osborne Pond on Allaire Road, greets all who drive by with a friendly smile and a hearty wave.

Matthew — who asked not to have his last name published, as a matter of personal privacy — is a resident of Asbury Park.

He said he waves not for attention but for the joy it brings him. “To me, it’s like a needed hug,” he said. “It does a lot for me, and if I can make somebody smile or make a difference in someone else’s life, just for that moment, that’s a good thing.”

His signature wave began accidentally, resulting from his inability to cast his fishing line while cars pass by on Allaire Road.

“Where I fish at, I can’t cast while there’s a car coming because I’m too close to the road,” he said, “so I wait for the car to pass and then I cast, and this day, I just happened to make eye contact with the gentleman who was driving the car.”

So Matthew waved at the man and smiled. But more vehicles followed. “There were like 15 cars in a row,” he said, “so I was like a windshield wiper — everyone’s waving and smiling. So from that moment on, it made me feel real good, from that moment on, I just kept waving and smiling.”

In fact, Matthew said, he may be catching more waves than fish at the Osborne Pond. “They [the fish] know when I’m waving, so they’ll take a little bite then,” he said.

“I’m feeding them, really.”

And it’s not just the drivers who are waving. “The biggest joy of it is to see the little kids in the back seat waving,” said Matthew, who is also a father.

Matthew calls his perch on Osborne Pond his “joy spot,” and says he has no intention of moving on to another fishing location.

“This is it,” he said. “I’m there until the bobber slides across the ice, whatever month that may be, November, December. I’ll always be there.”

Some motorists pass by without returning his wave, but he doesn’t take offense. “I don’t think it’s intentional, but there’s a few,” he said. “The other nine makes up for the one.”

Above all, Matthew said, he hopes everyone drives by safely.

“At the end of the day, I want everybody to make it home safe, so I want them to drive careful,” he said.

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.