Thursday, February 18, 2010

Montana Pygmy Whitefish Record Shattered

For at least the 7th time since 1982 the Montana pygmy whitefish record has been broken. Russ Geldrich of Kalispell caught the 0.36-pound (5.76-ounce; 9.84 inches in length) pygmy in Little Bitterroot Lake on February 13. The monster whitefish devoured a jig and maggot rig intended to nab kokanee.

Three types of whitefish live in Montana. Two, the pygmy and mountain whitefish (pictured above), are natives, while the lake whitefish is introduced. For its size the pygmy has a very large eye and lives near the bottom of deep lakes such as Little Bitterroot, Ashley, and Flathead. They feed on tiny zooplankton, bottom insects, and mysis shrimp.

By comparison the state record mountain whitefish caught in Hauser Reservoir in 2007 was 23 inches long and weighed over 5 pounds; while the record lake whitefish hauled from Flathead Lake in 2006 stretched the tape to 27 inches and weighed about 10.5 pounds.

For reasons escape me it seems many anglers, particularly fly anglers, loath even the idea hooking-up a so-called whitey; persish the thought actually having to take one off the hook. In worst cases, usually amid loud cussing, the poor whitey ends up in the bushes. In my boat every whitey in the net is treated with the same tender loving care given the biggest trophy trout...much to the dismay of many clients I might add. While I can't prove it my take is the worse the trout bite the brighter Mr. Whitey's star shines...nah, can't be...right?

As an intersting side note: When I first moved to Dillon a local guide told me (whispered and sworn to secrecy of course) his main goal in fly fishing was to one day own the state record. Diligently nearly every day off for at least an entire season he spent dredging the nearby Red Rock River where he said "the biggest damn whiteys anywhere swim." Alas, while he caught some dandys none quite measured up to the then reigning champ...Whether or not he's still at it is more than I know...

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