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Man battling bone cancer becomes Wyoming's first 'Ultimate Angler'

Danny Kurttila (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

CASPER, Wyo. — A 60 year old Riverton man has become the first person to acheive “Ultimate Angler” status in Wyoming.

“A major health issue didn’t keep Danny Kurttila from achieving one of the highest honors among the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s fishing challenges,” the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said on Monday, Jan. 6.

Kurttilla was diagnosed with bone cancer four years ago, the department adds. Since that time, he’s been catching plenty of trophy fish.

“To be an Ultimate Angler, a person must legally catch 10 trophy-sized game fish species in Wyoming,” Game and Fish says. “Each fish must meet or exceed a minimum length, which is determined by Game and Fish sample data and represents the top five percent in length for each species.”

Kurtilla caught 11 different species of fish between June and October 2019 to earn his new title.

“’I didn’t know if I was the first one or not, I just wanted to make sure I had enough entries before I sent them all in,’ Kurttila said. ‘When I was first diagnosed (with cancer) I was told I only had a few months to live. I guess the chemo worked well or I’m too stubborn because I’m still around.’”

The species he caught included:

  • splake
  • largemouth bass
  • northern pike
  • cutthroat trout
  • sunfish
  • brook trout
  • tiger muskie
  • sauger
  • brown trout
  • rainbow trout
  • walleye

“Kurttila said he caught most of the species in different portions of the Wind River drainage in Fremont County, but there was travelling involved to catch some of the fish,” Game and Fish says. “He went to Keyhole Reservoir in Crook County for northern pike, LAK Reservoir in Weston County for tiger muskie and Lower Sunshine Reservoir in Park County for splake and cutthroat.”

According to Kurttilla, one species was more difficult to snag than the others.

“’Tiger muskies are the hardest,’ Kurttila said. ‘I’ve caught a lot of tiger muskies, but I’ve fished for them for a long time. That is my favorite fish. Northern pike is my second.’”

Kurttilla has been fishing since he was a child and plans to continue, Game and Fish adds. He’ll attempt to add more trophy fish species to his Ultimate Angler belt.

“’It is a challenge to get as many as I can from that list however long it takes,’ he said.”