COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) — It took eight years, but a Colchester man has completed Vermont's first-ever Master Angler Sweep by catching at least one trophy-sized specimen of 33 different fish species.

Drew Price joined the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department's Master Angler Program in 2010. He caught 12 species the first year, and another 12 the next but his progress sputtered over the next few years until he changed tactics, trying new equipment and even becoming an avid ice fisherman.

"This is a remarkable achievement," said fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who co-founded the program and administers it. "He called me from the lake moments after landing his final species — a 30-inch pike-pickerel hybrid. He was kind of deliriously happy and I don't blame him."

Pike-Pickerel hybrids are rare, and Price sometimes griped about their inclusion on the Master Angler list, Good said.

"But he never gave up. He contacted people on online forums who mentioned catching one and focused on fishing in areas where chain pickerel and northern pike overlap. He fished for the last three years specifically targeting these hybrids," Good said. "This summer, he finally caught his 'white whale.'"

Price, a full-time teacher and part-time fishing guide, said the program showcases the diversity of fish and fishing opportunities available in Vermont.

"I appreciated the fantastic challenge of trying to catch all 33 fish species. It allowed me to combine my love of fish with my love of the outdoors, as well as my interest in the artistry of fly-tying," he said.

___

Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com