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'Most Exciting Day of My Life'—Tiger Trout Record Shattered in Wyoming

Game & Fish News Digest: Outdoors-loving pro athletes updates; waterfowling legend passes; Louisiana redfish regs.

'Most Exciting Day of My Life'—Tiger Trout Record Shattered in Wyoming

There's a new Wyoming state record for tiger trout after Owen Schaad recently pulled this 11.93-pound specimen from Viva Naughton Reservoir while visiting family. The fish hybrid (a cross between a brown trout and a brook trout) breaks a record that had stood since 2012 and marks one of only two trout records to have been broken in the Cowboy State this century according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials. (Photo courtesy of Wyoming Game & Fish Department)

Summer is in full command of both the thermometer and the calendar, but thankfully, that means that next up on the calendar is fall, right? Dreaming of cooler weather and hunting seasons in a few months, here’s a glimpse at this week’s Game & Fish News Digest.

Wyoming Man Breaks Tiger Trout Record

Cheyenne angler Owen Schaad recently spent the day visiting family and fishing on the Viva Naughton Reservoir near Kemmerer. That's not unusual for the angler, but what he caught was. That's because on a day when he caught more than 20 fish, he landed the biggest tiger trout in Wyoming fishing history. The 11.93-pound trout caught earlier this month beat an 11-year-old state record according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The record fish was 31-inches-long and had a girth of 16.5 inches. Schaad, who was fishing with a big rod and heavy line--that's all he was willing to divulge--said it was "the most exciting day of my life."

"I was fishing for maybe about four hours,” said Schaad in a June 26, 2023 news release. "Out of nowhere I hook onto this big ol’ fish and I think it’s a brown trout. It took maybe 20 minutes to get it where I could  see it. When I got it up to the bank and in the net and saw what it was, I was all excited, jumping up and down."

Schaad’s record was nearly a pound heavier than the previous record, an 11.07-pound caught May 6, 2012 at High Savery Reservoir by Jackson Sorensen.  Before then, Wyoming GF officials said that the last time a trout state record had been broken was in 1995 when a 50-pound lake trout was landed at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, tying the previous 1983 record for that species.

"Fish need remarkable conditions to grow that big," said Mark Smith, Wyoming GF assistant fisheries management coordinator. "As people catch those fish it becomes less likely another fish with those conditions will be caught again any time soon. Popular sport fish records tend to become stagnant over time due to the unusual environmental conditions that are required to produce exceptiona-sized fish."

The tiger trout is a sterile, intergeneric hybrid of the brown and brook trout. According to the United States Geologic Survey, this hybrid results between a cross between a female brown trout and a male brook trout and is primarily a hatchery produced fish. While it is primarily an artificial hybrid, the USGS does note that the tiger trout has been known to occur in nature.

Incidentally, the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record for the species is a 27-pound, 6-ounce specimen pulled from Loon Lake in Washington on Aug. 7, 2022 by Cathy A. Clegg.

Arkansas Waterfowling Legend Passes

Iconic Arkansas waterfowler and outdoors retail legend Marion McCollum, the CEO and president of Mack's Prairie Wings in Stuttgart, Ark., died late last week at the age of 81. The company made the announcement Thursday evening on Facebook.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share the shocking and devastating news of the passing of our legend, Marion McCollum, who dedicated his life to teaching the next generation the heritage of the outdoor sportsman," said the MPW post. "Mack’s Prairie Wings may never be the same, but we assure you that his legacy will continue on as we serve our customers the way Marion taught us."




Many in the duck-hunting community were quick to note McCollum’s passing and his impact on the sport.

"The waterfowling community has lost an icon," noted Ducks Unlimited on Twitter. "Marion McCollum, President and CEO of Mack’s Prairie Wings, was a dedicated conservationist and a pioneer in the hunting apparel industry. He used his influence to educate young people about the importance of conservation and inspire the next generation of outdoorsmen and women. He was also a proud Ducks Unlimited supporter and Legacy Sponsor. His passing creates a tremendous void in the outdoor community, but he leaves behind a lasting conservation legacy that will far outlive his time on this earth."

Hunter-Angler PGA Pro is Runner-Up

PGA Tour player Brian Harman, an avid hunter and angler who was featured recently by Game & Fish, had a great finish in last week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticutt. Harman finished tied for second place with a four-round score of 260 (20 under par), including a 6-under 64 during Sunday's final round.

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Combined, Harman, who is the 27th ranked player in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings, took home the runner-up's check of $1.78 million.

A dedicated bowhunter and angler, the 36-year-old from St. Simon's Island, Ga., excelled at the University of Georgia as a collegiate player, and has a long history of chasing bull elk, whitetails, Eastern turkeys, ducks, and fish.

NFL QB Tags Bow-Killed Black Bear

NFL quarterback and famed outdoors enthusiast Carson Wentz made news earlier this spring, taking a big black bear in Alaska. Wentz, who won two consecutive NCAA FCS national titles at North Dakota State University, was a starter for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles during the 2017 season when he helped lead them to an 11-2 start. After a season-ending injury, Wentz watched from the sidelines as backup Nick Foles and the Eagles captured Super Bowl LII, the first world title in Eagles' history. Over the next two seasons, Wentz spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders. Heading into the 2023 NFL season, Wentz is a free agent as of this writing.

He hasn't been sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, however. Over the weekend, Wentz posted on his Instagram account, and on the Wentz Bros Outdoors account he shares with his brother Zach, that he had checked a major item off his bucket list.

"Got the opportunity to spot and stalk black bear in one of our new favorite places on earth--Alaska! Incredible trip and an incredible animal!," stated the post, along with five accompanying photos.

In testimony to his immense following, the post and photos—showing him hunting, hiking, and kneeling next to a large black bear with his compound bow nearby—had generated more than 74,000 likes and nearly 30,000 comments as of this writing.

Wentz followed that up with a Wentz Bros Outdoors Instagram post with a video and text indicating he had checked a number of boxes during the hunt, including being a fair-chase hunt, using a spot-and-stalk hunting technique, taking an ethical shot and putting meat on the table.

Louisiana Redfish Resolution Receives Support

Officials with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership are applauding a recent Senate Resolution that was unanimously passed in the Louisiana Legislature, one that promotes protections for spawning-sized redfish.

"Though it (Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 46) doesn’t force the Commission to make any changes to creel or slot limits for redfish, the resolution is a significant first step toward increasing the redfish spawning stock. The TRCP and its partners will continue promoting the adoption of this recommendation as an official regulation at the Commission level."

That being said, TRCP also notes survival rates for juvenile redfish to achieve spawning age have been declining for more than a decade in Louisiana waters. The percent of mature red drum able to successfully spawn has also declined to 20 percent, or 10 percent lower than the state-mandated rate. The conservation group notes that numerous factors have contributed to that decline, but primarily, the loss of more than 2,000 square miles of coastal marshes in the last century is a major cause.

Even so, TRCP posts that there is "no doubt that recreational harvest and pressure from commercial fisheries, on both forage fish and via direct mortality of redfish as bycatch, also play significant roles."

While redfish are not considered "overfished," the conservation group says that they are currently undergoing overfishing, meaning the mortality rate is too high to maintain a healthy stock size. TRCP urges Louisiana constituents and fishery stakeholders to contact state legislators, thank them for their support, and urge them to back Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 46.

Short Casts

In a news item that brings concern for outdoors enthusiasts in parts of Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued a health advisory on June 23, 2023, noting that a state resident had contracted a local case of malaria after working outdoors in Cameron County. While Texas typically averages more than 120 travel-related malaria cases each year, the Rio Grande Valley case becomes the first locally reported case in the state since 1994. In addition the most common symptoms of the disease are flu-like (including fever, shaking chills, sweats, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting that starts 7 to 30 days after infection), the DSHS notes that without treatment, severe cases can be life-threatening. It urges the public to protect themselves with EPA registered insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, and to drain standing water that could be mosquito breeding habitat. … The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has announced its annual "Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp Design Competition" is now open, with the deadline to enter being Aug. 31. For information, visit this link. … Fox News reports that two commercial fishermen, one from Louisiana and another from Mississippi, are suing the Biden administration, stating that Congress and a handful of unelected councils are regulating and overseeing fisheries in an unconstitutional manner.

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