Tiny fish ties state record

March 19, 2009 4:19:51 AM PDT
Here's a fish tale that could use a little exaggeration.

A Kalispell man ice fishing on Bitterroot Lake in northwestern Montana on Tuesday caught a tiny fish so big that it tied a state record.

The pygmy whitefish weighed in at only 3.7 ounces and measured all of 8 1/4 inches - but that's brawny compared to usual pygmy whitefish, which are about 4 or 5 inches in length and weigh only a few ounces.

"My arm is still hurting," joked Eric Tullett, who reeled in the fish with a glow hook and maggot. Tullett's catch tied the state record held by two other anglers, who caught 3.7-ounce pygmies in February 2005.

The bottom dwellers feed on tiny zooplankton, bottom insects and mysis shrimp. Jim Vashro, a fisheries manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says the nonnative shrimp may be responsible for an increase in growth rates among pygmy whitefish.

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