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Not sure where the thought even came from, but for most of my 30’s, I have been thinking about trying for something special for my 40th birthday. With work, church and family obligations, I knew I could not just go crazy with my goal so I settled for trying to catch 40 species of fish in my 40th year. The first thing I had to come up with was ground rules , number one being that any legal way to take a fish would count and number 2 was it had to be fun. I am not after giant representations of each species, I love to catch big fish, but for this goal, any member of the family is welcome to the list. I made a list of every species I have had the pleasure of landing and even a few of my hopefuls and this became my starting point. My first big dent on the list came in January on my first saltwater kayaking trip. I loaded my new Jackson Cuda onto a makeshift 2×4 rack in the back of a rental truck and headed south for a training opportunity for my job. I arrived 2 days early and those days were dedicated to paddling the new Cuda and working on my list. I met up with 2 guys from the Yakangler forum who were gracious enough to take me along with them to one of their hot spots and gave me enough info on the area to maximize my time while I was there. In short order I had whittled down the list by 17 species. The first 3 species out of the Cuda were a trout, red and a flounder. Not bad to christen a new boat with an inshore slam ! After that first run on the list things slowed way down and I picked up a new species here and there. The second strong surge came on a good night bowfishing with my son and I added 6 species on one trip with him. It hasn’t all been fun and giggles though; I have had 3 different species all the way up to the side of the boat only to have them come unbuttoned at the water’s edge. A heart break every time, and these 3 still elude my list. It has also been tough leaving a bridge full of hungry sheepshead because I caught one of them already, or leaving a flat full of ravenous speckled trout to try to find a snook by the mangroves. There have been some real high points though; a few firsts for me like the crazy looking needlefish on the flats or the beautiful pumpkinseed that graced my 3 wt flyrod one hot afternoon and a black bass slam of a shoal bass, largemouth and spotted bass one morning. A giant 57.25 “ longnose gar stands as the biggest fish of the adventure so far, followed by a striper that gave me a run I will never forget. Every time my line goes tight I find myself peering into the water to see what may come up next. That in itself has been one of the best parts of this adventure, the anticipation of some new critter to put on the list. I whittled away at the goal little by little and after adding a channel catfish and a striped bass to the list, it stayed at 39 species for a painfully long time. Thoughts of the 3 lost fish just haunted my dreams but I knew sooner or later I would hit my goal. On the day before my 40th birthday, May 31st, I had the opportunity to put number 40 to rest. Just west of Yellowstone on a ranch in Montana, I got to do battle with a beautiful rainbow trout. That fish had no idea that it was the finishing touch on a long anticipated goal and as it swam away I just smiled. I thought of the adventure so far, the friends I had made on several trips and the things I had been blessed enough to see. And there, with my awesome son and beautiful bride I decided 2 things; one, I wasn’t stopping now, I need to see just how many more neat critters are waiting for me this year and , two, as long as I keep kicking, my 50th birthday adventure is going to be out of this world !



Chris Funk