Bucket list: That’s what 11-year-old Tristan Hill calls the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Saltwater Fish Life List. His goal is to catch all 71 species and he is already off to a great start.
Last fall, Tristan submitted photos of himself with 10 of the species on the list, allowing him to join the first tier of the Saltwater Fish Life List Club rewards program. He received a T-shirt and certificate for his efforts.
For Tristan though, participating is about more than earning prizes and recognition. Participation is about conservation and encouraging ethical angling by challenging fishers to target a diverse array of fish species.
“I hate seeing fish wasted. When I saw my first fish, it was gorgeous and my mind was blown,” said Tristan. “I don’t think I can give up on that. I think it would be amazing to catch all of them with my family.”
Tristan caught his first fish when he was 2 ½ years old in Fairbanks, Alaska. Living in Colorado at the time, his father, Josh, noticed that when Tristan wasn’t fishing, he just wasn’t happy. So Josh took matters into his own hands and began looking for a job near the water. The family of four, including Tristan’s little sister, moved to the Florida Keys in June 2016, purchased a boat and Josh began working at Lower Keys Tackle in an effort to learn more about the sport his son had taken such an interest in. Shortly afterward, they found out about the FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs via Facebook.
“Tristan has a love and respect for fish, and is very passionate about them,” said his father, Josh. “He is the real deal. He is a master of fishing.”
Today, they fish every chance they get, and Tristan continues to mark fish off his list.
“It is way more fun than video games, and it is free food right off the water,” Tristan said.
So far, he has caught a bonnethead shark; blue runner; black grouper; white grunt; cero; great barracuda; and a gray, lane, yellowtail and mutton snapper. Since his first 10-fish submission to the Life List, he has also caught a tarpon and a reef shark.
Tristan hopes you will join him in participating in not only the Life List, but also the FWC’s two other Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs: Saltwater Reel Big Fish, which celebrates memorable-sized catches, and Saltwater Grand Slams, which award anglers for catching three different specified fish species within a 24-hour period.
You can keep track of Tristan’s pursuits on his Facebook page or at the Catch a Florida Memory Facebook page, Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory.
For More Information
Participate today by visiting CatchaFloridaMemory.com. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible for prizes and are encouraged to use proper fish handling techniques when practicing catch-and-release. For more information or if you are interested in becoming a partner, email AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554.