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Now, here’s an interesting new program. It’s called the Utah Cutthroat Slam, and it offers the opportunity to meet an interesting fishing challenge while also helping fund a worthy fishing conservation effort. If you go for the slam and succeed, send us a copy and we’ll recognize you with a free one-year renewal of your subscription, e-edition only. New cor¬respondent Spencer Durrant of Utah filed the report for us:
“The only thing more emblematically western than the cowboy is the cutthroat trout. The most widespread native trout in America, the cutthroat has weathered storms—both of natural and human causes—for millennia. Any angler worth his salt is aware of the issues facing cutthroat trout: habitat loss, a diminishing number of genetically pure populations, and warmer rivers, to name a few. In an effort to confront the issues facing cutthroat, as well as raise public awareness of the problems they face, the Utah Division of Wildlife Re¬sources (DWR) and Trout Unlimited (TU) have partnered to create a pro¬gram called the Utah Cutthroat Slam.
“This partnership between a state agency (the DWR) and a national conservation group (TU) is the first of its kind in the nation, according to DWR officials. It’s particularly notable because almost all of the proceeds from registering for the slam go to cutthroat restoration projects within the state of Utah. Specifically, Utah charges anglers $20 to participate in the slam, and roughly $18 of that cost goes directly toward habitat restoration work. Participants also receive a medallion and certificate to show off after completing the slam. As of Au¬gust 5, 2016, the slam had generated nearly $9,000 in restoration monies, according to an e-mail I received from Paul Thompson, Northern Region Aquatics Manager for the DWR.
“Before you assume the slam is
easy to complete, take note of the fact that all four cutthroat species must be taken in their native range. For example, Bear River cutthroat caught from Strawberry Reservoir (which is located in the Colorado River drain¬age) won’t count toward the Bear River cutthroat requirement. Here are the cutthroat species that are native to the State of Utah: the Bear River, the Bonneville, the Colorado River, and the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The first three are relatively widespread in their distribution, while the fourth, the Yellowstone cutt, is restricted to one of the state’s most remote regions near the Utah/Idaho border. The slam website (www.utahcutthroatslam. org) provides a ton of information for anglers looking to plan their own do-it-yourself cutthroat slam trip to Utah. There is a map on the site showing the ranges of all four species. It provides the names of rivers from which to catch each fish and tells you how to reach them.
“As a native Utahan and avid lover of cutthroat trout, I’m well versed on where to catch all four species. Here are my own inside secrets on the best spots in the state to catch each fish. It should help you complete your slam within a few days:
“Bonneville cutthroat: This species of cutthroat was thought to be nearly extinct until a genetically pure population was found in the extreme western part of Utah. Now, it’s been restored to a good portion of its native range and can be found right off the Wasatch Front, the most densely populated area of Utah. A great place to snag a few Bonnies is the Upper Provo River, between Jordanelle Reservoir and the town of Francis. Located about an hour from Salt Lake City, this stretch of river is easily accessible with plenty of public access. Traditional western dry flies work well. An Elk Hair Caddis and Pheasant Tail dropper almost always produce for me on this river.
“Colorado River cutthroat: The prettiest member of the cutthroat family (aside from the Snake River cutthroat), this species is plentiful in the streams, lakes, and ponds along the south slope of the Uinta Mountains. The Uinta River, just north of Roosevelt, is a personal favorite of mine. It’s home to some good-sized cutthroat, as far as high-country trout are concerned. The season on the Uinta River is the same as for any typical high-country fishery: either early in the spring before runoff or later in June or early July after runoff subsides.
“Bear River cutthroat: The Bear River cutthroat is a strain of the Bonneville cutthroat that developed as a result of being isolated from the Bonneville Basin for thousands of years. Bear River cutthroat are unique in their ability to grow to very large sizes and in the length of their migration routes. Bear Lake is my recommendation for catching one of these amazing fish. Often called the Caribbean of the Rockies, Bear Lake’s aquamarine waters are enchanting. The opportunity to catch a large cut¬throat exists here nearly year-round.
“Yellowstone cutthroat: One of the West’s most endangered cutthroat subspecies, the Yellowstone cutthroat occurs in only one location in Utah, the Raft River Mountains along the Idaho/Utah border in the extreme northwest corner of the state. Clear Creek Campground is a good place to establish a base camp for taking one of these fish. Just be aware that the Raft River Mountains are rugged and remote, and they have a reputation for popping tires. George Creek is a popular destination for catching these rare fish as well.
“So there you have it—a quick guide to planning your own trip to Utah to complete the state’s newly minted cutthroat slam. The medal¬lion will look pretty nice on your wall once you finish the slam.”
Postscript: Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer and novelist from Utah. His latest novel, Learning to Fly, reached no. 22 on the Amazon Hot New Releases Bestseller List. Spencer authors multiple monthly and weekly fly fishing columns for a variety of national and local publications. Connect with him on Twitter @ Spencer_Durrant or on Facebook @spencerdurrantauthor.