Eric Tullett of Kalispell will now share the Montana angling state record for the diminutive pygmy whitefish with two other anglers, both of whom turned in their record fish in February 2005.
Tullett caught the .23-pound (that's 3.7 ounces) pygmy on a glow hook and maggot while ice fishing on Bitterroot Lake on March 17. He hooked the fish at 80 feet below the surface and reeled it in.
"My arm is still hurting,"he said jokingly.
Tullett did everything right in getting his record certified. He took the fish to Super One of Kalispell and had it weighed on a certified scale; he then brought the fish and the weight slip to the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Headquarters in Kalispell. There, Fisheries Biologist Mark Deleray examined and measured the fish and certified that the impressive specimen tied the state record of .23 pounds held jointly by two other anglers. Tullett's fish measured 8-1/4 inches, while the other two record fish had measured 8-1/2 and 9 inches. Tullett's pygmy was particularly fat, with a girth of 5-3/4 inches. Tullett will receive a state record certificate when the paperwork is received in Helena.
The pygmy whitefish is one of three types of whitefish that live in Montana. The pygmy, along with the larger mountain whitefish, is native. The nonnative lake Superior whitefish was introduced to Montana. The pygmy has a very large eye in relation to its size. Pygmy whitefish live near the bottom of lakes such as Little Bitterroot, Ashley, and Flathead. They feed on tiny zooplankton, bottom insects, and mysis shrimp. According to Region One Fisheries Manager Jim Vashro, introduced mysis shrimp, which have hurt some kokanee fisheries, are made to order for the bottom-hugging pygmies and may be resulting in an increase in their growth rates.