Fishing enthusiast Drew Price, of Colchester, has become the first person in Vermont to complete the daunting "Master Angler Sweep."
The designation, created in 2010, honors people who catch trophy-sized specimens of 33 different fish species living in Vermont.
Price has spent the last eight years pursuing Master Angler status, and finally accomplished the feat when he landed a 30-inch pike-pickerel hybrid on a boat in Lake Champlain.
“When I actually got the fish in the boat, I kind of dropped to the bottom of the boat and I started tearing up. It was, you know, like this is eight years trying to get this done,” Price said in an interview. “It’s been an incredible journey, and really a learning experience for me.”
Price, 48, caught the angling bug as a youngster, but he said he began devoting serious time to the hobby after a fly fishing excursion in 1993.
Price said he initially hoped to land all 33 species on the fly, but concluded about a year into the quest that it wouldn’t be possible.
“I diversified my angling, and I started ice fishing, I started fishing with a spinning rod. I started fishing with bait, which is something I hadn’t done in a very, very long time,” Price said.
Vermont fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who co-created the Master Angler Program in 2010, said he’s been following Price’s effort to complete the sweep since he began the quest.
“This is a remarkable achievement,” Good said in a press release. “He called me from the lake moments after landing his final species … He was kind of deliriously happy and I don't blame him.”
Price, who gets a Master Angler lapel pin for his efforts, said his search for the 33 species took him to lakes, rivers and ponds in all corners of Vermont.
“This is an amazing program that really showcases the diversity of fish and fishing opportunities throughout the state of Vermont,” Price said.
Price said he generally spends five days a week on the water.
“I have a very understanding girlfriend,” he said.
Now that he’s completed the Master Angler Sweep, Price said he’s turning his focus to new fishing challenges.
For one, he’ll try to land as many trophy-sized species in the Master Angler Program as possible in a single year.
“I’m at 14 right now; I think I can get over 20 this year,” Price said. “There’s a few species I’ve never caught that are found in Vermont, and those are on my bucket list. And then I’m going to have to start looking outside of the state a little bit too and see what I can find.”