Game and Fish’s “Master Angler” program launched in 2019 and only a handful of people have achieved Ultimate Angler status under the program. A person has to legally catch ten trophy-sized fish of different species in order to earn the distinction.
Gertsch hooked a 24-inch brown trout in Oct. 2020 as his tenth trophy-class fish, according to Game and Fish.
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“Some October days in Wyoming can feel more like full-on winter than fall, the department said. “And it was one of those days, with a cold steel wind blowing across the water of Soda Lake north of Pinedale. Sam Gertsch of Alpine admits he had thought twice about whether he really wanted to be out in it that day, but he decided to go for it.”
“Turns out he was awfully glad he did as on his seventh cast he would tie into his tenth trophy class fish, a 24-inch brown trout, earning him the unique distinction of being an Ultimate Angler in the state of Wyoming.”
Gertsch told Gamd and Fish that he spent over 200 days traveling around the state and fishing in pursuit of the Ultimate Angler status.
“He says he didn’t have money for any hotels, as he spent most everything on a 14-foot v-hull boat,” the release states. “He camped every night and even slept in his boat some nights.”
Gertsch told Game and Fish that Boysen Reservoir’s diversity of fish species made him continually return to the area.
“I’ve been over to Riverton more times than I can count,” he said.
Gertsch said that landing ten trophy-class fish is no easy task: “It really is difficult.” He told Game and Fish that on several occasions he caught perch and smallmouth bass were “just an inch short” of the trophy-class size required for him to eventually earn Ultimate Angler status.
Game and Fish establishes minimum trophy size requirements for each species based on sample data which allows them to estimate the top 5% in length for the species.
Gertsch told Game and Fish that snagging a trophy-sized largemouth bass was the easiest for him.
“However, Sam says lake trout is still one fish he has yet to figure out, at least catching the big ones that is,” the department said. “He will continue his quest to try and figure them out.”