Fishing the Fifty

This page provides a brief overview of my quest to fish all 50 states. For more pictures and summaries of each state, please visit my website!


After nearly five years at Master Angler Level III, I finally got to Level IV with this citation white bass from Buggs Island, caught while fishing with Butch Arthur. It was 11 years and 18 days between my first citation species in Virginia and my 20th citation species. I've caught over 100 citations over that time, but this one was extra special.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 04/18/2022

Crappie season is off to a good start! My first trip of the year unfortunately came after Virginia's annual kick-in-the-nuts March snowstorm that dumped a pile of cold water into Buggs Island, staining the lake and dropping the temperature 8 degrees. Fortunately, I found some nice ones with Butch Arthur.


Today is the 11-year anniversary of the day I caught my first citation fish and found out about the Virginia Angler Recognition Program. My first citation was a yellow perch, but I caught a citation chain pickerel shortly thereafter. I caught another citation pickerel five weeks later, but then I have not even seen a pickerel in real life, in any state, since then. It's weird.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 03/14/2022

For my annual out-of-state trip in 2022, I chose Lahontan cutthroat trout on Pyramid Lake with Trevor Herring of Pyramid Fly Company ( Trevor and the other guides consistently catch trophy cutthroat over 10 pounds, with several over 20 pounds caught each season. After a blistering cold morning with wind chills in the teens and below, I caught my Nevada trophy, a 32-inch, 10-pound Lahontan cutthroat. This beautiful fish put up quite a fight on the fly rod, but I finally landed him, making Nevada the 41st state in which I have caught at least one trophy. I loved my experience on Pyramid Lake and I can't wait to go back!

For more on my return trip to Nevada and my trophy quest, please visit:


My first freshwater trip of 2022 picked up right where my last freshwater trip of 2021 left off: trophy fallfish and some small browns. Four citation fallfish (up to 17 inches) brought my total to about 290823904 since Virginia added them to the citation eligible list in 2020.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 01/13/2022

After my very successful saltwater trips shark fishing off Ocean City, Maryland, and tuna fishing off Scituate, Massachusetts, I decided to play the hot hand and headed to Deltaville, Virginia to target some massive saltwater striped bass. Wes Crump of WC Sportfishing catches better stripers in a week in the season than I've seen in my entire life. And that's not an exaggeration. I've fished for or caught stripers in 16 states and landed trophies in four of those states. Yet, on one morning with Wes, I caught my biggest striper ever (49 inches, 47 pounds), my second biggest striper ever (45 inches, 43 pounds), and my fourth-biggest striper ever (46 inches, 39 pounds). It was unbelievable. They were also my first Virginia saltwater citations.

Please check out my newly created Virginia saltwater page on the site:

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 12/27/2021

My last trout trip of the year produced two trophy fallfish and, finally, a brown trout! He was a skinny 13 inches, but he was the first brown I'd caught in about 10 months, so I was happy.

Best of luck to all of you in 2022!

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 12/16/2021

I had another great trip on Lake Anna with my friend Christopher McCotter. Jigging and casting both produced a lot of fish. I got some quality hybrids, stripers, crappie up to 13 inches, and dozens of white perch.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 12/06/2021

Another trout trip, another massive fallfish. This trophy was 18 inches, my longest fallfish yet. Still hoping the big trout come out to play this season, but if I'm going to strike out on them, I'm happy to be getting some big fallfish, especially since both Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and my angler's club have recognized them as trophy-eligible fish.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 12/02/2021

Four months ago, I was honored with an invitation to join the Virginia Anglers Club. They have their own rating system for achievements, so I set out to get the first one, which is 10 different species of sport fish. I fished with my friend Christopher McCotter on Lake Anna and, as always, he knew exactly where the fish were, helping me to add striper, white perch, and hybrid to my VAC species list. Only one more to go!

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 11/04/2021

October means one thing: trout season. And trout season apparently means one thing: big fallfish. I fished the South River and caught two citation fallfish and two fallfish that missed citation by an inch or less, as well as lots of undersize fallfish and rainbows and a smallmouth bass.


One of the things I like most about fishing throughout America is targeting species not found in Virginia. Yellow bass are fairly common in the Mississippi River basins, but I had never seen one before catching this 11.5-inch trophy on Lake Okoboji in Iowa with John Grosvenor of Lake Okoboji Fishing ten years ago this weekend.


Another attempt at a citation redear, and another nice catch of a completely different species. This black crappie joins bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish as non-redear species caught while redear fishing. I even had a pike on at one point. I still have never even seen a redear in real life, but I am enjoying the mixed bag that I've gotten while looking for them.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 09/02/2021

For my annual out-of-state trip in 2021, I chose bluefin tuna off the coast of Massachusetts with Taylor and Bryan Sears of Mass Bay Guides ( The Sears brothers have an amazing track record for giant bluefin tuna, and I had an unforgettable trip with them. I caught a 900-pound, 115-inch trophy bluefin on my first day and was within 30 feet of getting a second one that size to the boat on the second day. I also caught trophy 16-inch Atlantic mackerel on both days. Bluefin tuna fight like nothing I have ever fought before, and to be able to battle with two in two days was truly amazing. Massachusetts became my 40th state with at least one trophy fish.

For more information on my trip, please visit

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 08/16/2021

I finished July the same way I finished June, with some big flathead catfish, this time with my friend Mike Ostrander. My biggest fish of the day was a 40-inch, 29-pound citation flathead. I also had a pair of 21-pound flatheads, a near 30-pound blue catfish, and over a dozen smaller flatheads, blues, channels, and even a gar.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 08/04/2021

I closed out June with my personal best Virginia flathead and another citation flathead while fishing with my friend William Nicar. The big fish went 41 inches and 31 pounds, just a pound shy of my 32-pound personal best flathead from the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. The smaller citation was 38 inches and 26 pounds. That second fish was my 100th officially registered citation in Virginia.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 07/15/2021

Ten years ago this week I had one of the biggest surprises of my 50-state quest. Anyone who has fished for musky knows it can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience, with success sometimes defined as follows rather than catches. Not on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. I caught 5 muskies in the first 30 minutes and 12 total on the morning trip, with the biggest two being 39 inches and a 42-inch Michigan trophy.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 06/28/2021

Despite living less than three hours from the ocean, I do not saltwater fish. In fact, the last time was when I finished my 50 state quest in Hawaii in May 2015. But, as a Father's Day treat to myself, I went shark fishing for the second time in my life. I chose Chasin' Tides out of Ocean City, an outfit that catches trophy sharks regularly, and I was not disappointed. My first shark of the day was a trophy, an 8.5-foot, 250-pound sand tiger shark. I managed another, smaller shark before the end of our short morning trip. It was a fun experience and I look forward to going back.
For more information on my quest, please check out my site:


I went on a trophy channel catfish hunt right before the massive cold front at the end of last month. I saw several but couldn't get them to cooperate. Fortunately, the smallmouth were hungry and I caught a pile of them.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 05/27/2021

I caught a massive 3.06-pound black crappie on Buggs Island with Butch Arthur. This beat my personal best crappie by a lot. It was post-spawn too, which makes the fact that it was over 3 pounds even more impressive. I also caught my first white bass in Virginia and my first freshwater drum in Virginia, as well as dozens of blue catfish, some white perch, a citation gar, and over 100 crappie, including four more citations. It was an unbelievable day on the water!


Season 2 of "Catching Bigger Versions of Fish I Never Cared About Until Virginia Put Them on the Citation List" has begun!


I fished Lake Anna with my friend Chris McCotter and found a bunch of nice crappie.


Ten years ago today, I caught this 14.5-inch yellow perch on Lake Moomaw. I was told it was a citation, which meant nothing to me at the time. I went home and looked up the program, and have been at it ever since. While the quest for successive levels of Master Angler in Virginia has played second fiddle to my 50 state quest for a long time, I am still proud of having caught at least one citation in 19 different Virginia species.


February brought quite a few ice storms followed by high water levels from the thaw. Fortunately, after having to postpone my fishing day a few times, I was able to get a little fishing in before the last ice storm of the month. The bite was slow, but I did manage this chunky 16-inch brown.

Photos from Fishing the Fifty's post 02/11/2021

My 2021 season is off to a great start! I headed to the South River and caught six citation fallfish and a few browns and rainbows. The six citation fallfish meant that I made short work of the Fallfish Master Angler, catching ten citations in eight trout trips since VA DWR made fallfish a citation species. ?


I closed out 2020 on Lake Anna with my friend Chris McCotter. It was a slow bite on a cold, post-frontal day, but we ended up catching largemouth, crappie, striper, hybrid, and some decent white perch.


My last trout trip of the year produced a few fish, with this 19-inch rainbow being the biggest.


You might ask why this picture of a 15-inch trophy fallfish sucks so much. This was my first time fishing the South River since the time when, after turning around in my seat to take a picture with a big fish, I fell face first into the river. So I decided to play it safe this time.


A funny thing happened on my first attempt to catch a citation redear sunfish. After doing a ton of research to determine the best place and time to catch them, I arrived at the spot, only to discover the largemouth bass had gotten there first. I caught several largemouth, including two over 20 inches, with the biggest being a 22-inch, 6-pound citation. I've still never seen a redear sunfish in real life, but if all of my trips to target them end up like this, I won't complain.


For my annual out-of-state trip in 2020, I chose lake sturgeon on the St. Croix River with Darren Troseth of 3 Rivers Fishing Adventures ( Darren has a phenomenal track record of catching trophies and even holds the Minnesota state record for lake sturgeon.

The night was cold by Virginia September standards and the bite was slow. However, Darren's expertise paid off and, within a few hours, I had my first Minnesota trophy, a 55.5-inch lake sturgeon with a 20-inch girth, estimated to be 41 pounds.

The next night greeted us with thunderstorms and hail and got even colder than the first night. The fish only bit about once per hour, but they were some impressive fish. My first fish was a 55-inch by 20-inch trophy with an estimated weight of 40 pounds. The next fish was smaller, but still would likely have been a trophy by weight. The third fish was truly amazing: a massive 68.5-inch by 26-inch trophy with an estimated weight of 81 pounds. This fish fought harder than any fish I've caught in recent memory, even on 80-pound braid. It was also the biggest fish ever caught on one of Darren's guided trips. Lake sturgeon that size are about 50 years old. I finished off the night with another trophy (54.5 inches) and three fish between 40 and 45 inches.

The four trophies by length (and one by weight) meant that Minnesota became the 39th state in which I have caught at least one trophy. In all, it was a fantastic experience with an excellent guide, and I am excited to go back sometime down the road.

For more information on this trip, and to see pictures from my other trips, please check out my website,!


There were two big pieces of fishing news for me last week. One requires me to update my site, which I haven't done yet, so here is the other one: my older son caught his first largemouth bass! He was very happy and proud, as was his dad.


In all of the insanity of March and April, I forgot to post the pictures from my crappie trip with Dale Coon. My biggest of over 20 fish caught was a 15-inch citation black crappie.


I closed out my July on a 100+ degree day on the James River with Mike Ostrander. I caught a dozen catfish, with the biggest being a 36-inch, 18.5-pound flathead and a 38-inch, 23-pound flathead.


As my part of Virginia prepares for its one millionth straight day with a heat index above 90, it is nice to remember that five years ago this week, I was trout fishing in the mountains and catching my first citation rainbow and brook trout.


Yet another change to Virginia's trophy fish program this year was the addition of two new species of sunfish. I have since spent more time fishing for sunfish this summer than any adult should ever admit. After catching more than 50 sunfish on a stretch of creek near me, including some respectable 8-inch redbreast, I thought I had finally caught my trophy when I set the hook on this party crasher. Until I pulled him out of the muddy water. Never have I been so disappointed to catch a largemouth bass.




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