Bucket list: That’s what 11-year-old Tristan Hill calls the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Saltwater Fish Life List. His goal is to catch all 71 species and he is already off to a great start.
Last fall, the Lower Keys kid 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,” he said. “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 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 began looking for a job near the water. The family of four, including Tristan’s little sister, moved to the 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.
“Tristan has a love and respect for fish and is very passionate about them,” Josh said. “He is the real deal.”
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.
Through last week, he had caught a bonnethead shark, blue runner, black grouper, white grunt, cero mackerel, barracuda and snapper: Gray, lane, yellowtail and mutton. Since his first 10-fish submission to the Life List, he has also caught a tarpon and a reef shark.
You can participate in the Saltwater Fish Life List Club 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 send an email to AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or call (850) 487-0554.