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Nominations open for Manitoba's official fish

Tell the government your choice -- there are prizes

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The one that got away could be immortalized as Manitoba's official fish.

Be it a walleye, pike or sturgeon or any of the other 80 species of fish caught in Manitoba waters, the province wants to put it up next to our official flower, the prairie crocus, and our official bird, the great grey owl.

The effort to designate an official fish will be launched today, with nominations accepted at www.manitobafisheries.com. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 1, 2014.

"What we wanted to do was really celebrate fishing and celebrate our fishing resource here in Manitoba," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said Friday.

"It's important that we recognize, in this instance fish, because we want people to appreciate the diversity, we want people to enjoy that diversity, we want to people to think about conservation. We want people to be aware of Mother Earth and her bounty."

Manitoba won't be alone in having an official fish. We'll be following Saskatchewan and Minnesota, which have both hooked the walleye (or pickerel to some) as their official fish.

Elsewhere, British Columbia has the Pacific salmon and Alberta has the bull trout, Northwest Territories has the Arctic grayling and North Dakota has the northern pike.

The task of picking the official fish will be up to a special committee headed by local angling expert Don Lamont.

Lamont said while he's caught fish all across the province, he's going into this job with no favourites.

"The walleye is probably the most popular," he said. "You get into lake trout and sturgeon fishing, and don't forget the northern pike; I tell you what, it's going to be a tough choice," he said.

The committee will award 20 complimentary fishing licences for next year's season to those who submit the most compelling stories. The top three will be posted online and in Manitoba's angling guide.

One fish enthusiast has already made up his mind.

"There's no question goldeye would be at the top of the list," said Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, the majority owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club.

But the mayor did give passing respect to catfish and pickerel as popular choices.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2013 A9

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