I admit that I have had this idea in my head for some time now. It seems simple enough...catch a mature specimen of every species of fish native to Montana. It was when I started to make the list that it became more complicated. Montana has 55 species of fish native to the state, but many of them are too small to seriously consider targeting. I had to set a criteria, and that was the hard part. I finally decided on intentionally targeting species that average 6" in length. Why 6"? Well, it seems like a size that will readily be caught on a hook & line rather than in a minnow seine. The other reason is that where I grew up that happened to be the minimum size restriction to keep a fish. Not very scientific, I realize, but either is this endeavor. I am not a fish biologist, I am an average guy and fisherman. I enjoy catching a diversity of fish, and learning the techniques associated with each.
So here it is Mid-January in Montana. I should be out ice-fishing for the Burbot, but instead I have been busy skiing the slopes of Lone Peak. I hope get out soon, and check the first species off of my list. I have done some research on FWP's website about each species. MFISH is an extremely powerful database, if you take the time to pick through it. I have planned out many target areas based on the sampling efforts of our state agency. My reference book for all species and their native status is "A Field Guide to Montana Fishes" which was produced by FWP. I realize that there is currently some controversy regarding the native status of some species, but I am holding to the current status.
My goal is 33 species of fish...I hope I have enough free time!