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An Addition to Norm's Life List

On of the wonderful thing about fly fishing is that there are some many different members of the trout and salmon family waiting to be caught.  Sure, catching them is fun but to catch them from their native range is even more special.  Unfortunately many of our native species are extremely rare or have been extirpated from their original range.  On August 25th my life list stood at 23 species or sub-species.  On August 26th I added Thymallus arcticus the Artic Grayling!  

Artic Grayling caught by Norm Crisp in August of 2008 in MontantAccording to Dr. Robert Behnek, the authority on the trout and salmon family, since the last glacial period Grayling have only been know to occur in portions of northern Michigan and the Missouri River Basin above Great Falls, Montana.   In Michigan they were extirpated from their last refuge, Otter Creek in the mid-1930’s.  In Montana they didn’t fare much better and their range has been reduced to the upper portions of the Big Hole River – generally above the town of Divide - and to a few Big Hole River tributaries.   I made several trips between the Kansas City area and the University of Montana to see where my son and money were going *and each time I searched the Big Hole river and its tributaries for a grayling but never found one.  This trip proved to be the charm.  My research had told me that one tributary stream in particular should have a viable population.  The water levels and temperatures were just right this trip.  Another quest ended.

Grayling from both the Big Hole River and many locations in Canada and Alaska have been artificially propagated and stocked in many mountain lakes in the western states.  Some of these fish have moved short distances and occur in the inlet and outlet streams.  I’ve caught them in those locations, but adding one of those to my life list would have been like cheating at solitaire.  A fish this special deserved the quest and my respect.

I generally found both in a local bar

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