Catching a cutthroat trout is an experience worth remembering. Catching all four of the subspecies is even more so. Catching them in Utah, where all are native, is the stuff that deserves a special award.
That’s just what the state is doing. Beginning April 1, anglers who participate in the Utah Cutthroat Slam will receive an official certificate, a custom medallion, and an online recognition for catching a Bonneville, Colorado River, Yellowstone, and Bear River cut.
There is no size limit or trophy requirement as each fish is a prize in and of itself. Simply catch one fish of each subspecies to qualify. The competition is strictly catch and release; photos will be submitted into the contest as proof of the feat, complete with where you caught it. Each fish must have been caught in Utah waters.
The Bonneville cut (shown in red and purple above) is Utah’s state fish. It is native to its namesake water, the Lake Bonneville Basin, and can be found in northern, central, and western portions of the state. In the past it suffered mightily from over-fishing and non-native competition, and was once thought to be extinct in its native habitat. Today it lives in both urban and backcountry areas and provides some of the state’s finest fishing.
The Bear River cut (blue and purple) grows especially large, thanks in part to genetics and in part to its near-constant feeding. Scientists believe the Bear River originally connected to Bear Lake and the Snake River drainage, but eventually changed its path and began running to its new terminus, the Great Salt Lake. As a result, the trout that bare its name have more in common with fish in the Snake River and Yellowstone drainages than their present neighbors.
The Colorado River cut (yellow) has been styled “An Artist’s Dream” for its beautiful coloration. It is also picturesque for its surroundings, being found in the high country of Utah in lakes and streams.
The Yellowstone cut (green) is very limited in its Utah range. It is found only in the most northwestern reaches of the state — look closely or you’ll miss its green range in the top left corner of the map.
Cutthroats are the only trout that are native to Utah. Anglers can now catch brookies, rainbows, and brown trout in the state’s waters, but it was the colorful and distinct cutthroat that first met settlers in 1847.
The cost to enter the Slam contest is $20, with the money raised going toward cutthroat conservation projects in the state. The video below provides examples of each trout and a little background on the Slam’s origins.
For more on the program visit utahcutthroatslam.org.