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Around Our Town: Game and Fish

Third State Fishing Record for Angler

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05/01/2012 - At some point in his life Tom Durst must have made the fishing gods very happy. Or maybe it was an early birthday present, because it happened the day before his 69th birthday. Whatever the reason, Durst hauled in his third state-record fish when he caught a 15-inch, 1.7 pound longnose sucker at Alcova on April 18.

Durst was drop-shoting a leech for walleye, with weights on bottom of his line and hooks about 1.5 feet up, each with a live leech. "This gets the bait right in front of the fish. The trout and walleye in Alcova and Pathfinder really like leeches," he said.

Although he usually does pretty well at Alcova, the fish had not been cooperating on this particular morning. "It's basically the only fish I caught that day. I usually catch some walleye but it was just a slow day," he said.

And then he got a bite.

"When I was reeling it in I thought I had a walleye. I could see its whitish underbelly." But when he landed the fish he knew he had something different. "He was really fat; I don't know what he'd been eating but it put the weight on him. He was big," he said.

Durst knows a thing or two about big fish, because he already holds the title to two state record fish in Wyoming. In 2007 he caught a state record gizzard shad in Glendo Reservoir. The fish weighed 1.06 pounds and was 14.25 inches long. In fact, 2007 was a good year for him, because he also made fishing headlines when he reeled in a 7.5 pound, 26.5 inch sauger from Boysen Reservoir. He has the mounted sauger hanging in his house and still has the record gizzard shad in the freezer. "It may end up as bait at some point; probably catfish bait," he said.

He thinks he blew an earlier chance at setting a record for the largest longnose sucker in the state. In 2011 he caught a large longnose sucker that he ended up using as bait. "I should have turned that one in. It was probably as large as the one I just caught," he said, "So I got a second shot at it. After I cut that one up last year, I thought, 'That was stupid.' It's not every day a guy gets a second chance to set a new state record."

Durst's longnose sucker was the first state-record entry for the species, and he hopes other anglers can learn from it. "These nongame fish are neglected species; a lot of people don't know we have a variety of suckers here in Wyoming," he said. In fact, Wyoming has nine species of suckers: the bluehead, flannelmouth, longnose, mountain, quillback, river carpsucker, shorthead redhorse, Utah, and white. Although suckers are considered nongame species, they can still be fun to catch. And, as Durst can attest, can sometimes put an angler on the record books.

Currently there are only state records for three sucker species, the Utah sucker, the white sucker, and now Durst's longnose sucker. This leaves several other opportunities for a new state record, and it wouldn't be surprising if Durst sets one of them, too.

But one record he would really like to break is the state crappie record. Originally from Mitchell, S.D., Durst fished for crappie while growing up and it's a species that is very dear to him. The state record for black crappie currently stands at 2.34 pounds, and the white crappie record is holding at 2.45 pounds. Durst believes he came really close to breaking a crappie record back in 2007 his lucky year when he caught an extra large crappie. "I ate a possible state record crappie that year," he said. "I was a large fish but I never took it to be weighed."

So for now he'll have to settle for three state records.

"It's kind of a joke, I suppose. It gives kids something to shoot for and gets them out there fishing," he said. "It's time on the water that counts."

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