Utah Cutthroat Slam

My colleagues Mike, Rulon, and I decided to attempt the Utah Cutthroat Slam in one day. We left Mike's house in Orem, UT at 6:15 on September 10, 2016. We first targeted the Bonneville Cutthroat. When we got out the car it was a brisk 35 degrees Fahrenheit, fortunately once we got on the stream the temperature was more moderate or I was so concentrated on fishing that I didn't notice how cold I was. We walked down into the canyon and I started fishing a dry-dropper rig with a stimulator and a beadhead pheasant tail nymph. I got a strike and pulled the fish out of the water with my backcast shortly after walking into the river but the fish came off in the air.

I then fished a beaver pond where a small cutthroat took my dropper on one of my first casts. I landed the fish and was done with the first leg of the slam. Mike got his fish shortly afterwards and Rulon caught the largest fish of the day in the hole pictured above. All told, it took about 1 hour to land the fish which was the time we had allotted. We were on our way to the next destination in our trip.

Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

Our next target was the Bear River Cutthroat so we fished a small creek in the Bear River drainage. The creek was notably smaller than our previous stop and we struggled to find water that was deep enough to hold fish. Mike caught his fish early in a beaver pond. However, Rulon and I were not successful after 2.5 hours of fishing. At one point I found a hole with about 30 fish holding in about 4 feet of water. I spooked those and several other fish on this stream.

We had started by walking up the river from the road but switched to walking down the river. We had allotted 1 hour to fish at this location so we thought our chances at the Slam were gone and said as much as we went back to fishing. Within 5 minutes of that conversation, Rulon and I both caught our Bear River Cutthroat and hope was alive for the Slam.

Our next target was the Colorado Cutthroat. There was substantially more water which was a welcome sight after fishing the very small water for the Bear River Cuts. Mike hooked into a cut using his Tenkara rod almost immediately. I followed shortly after but caught a brook trout. The next fish a minute later was also a brook trout. About 2 minutes later, I caught a cutthroat on the stimulator. Rulon had caught his as well so we set left after only 10 minutes. The fishing was great and I hope to get back to this stream soon.

Colorado Cutthroat

The last target was the Yellowstone Cutthroat which only is present in Utah in the Raft River range in the fart northwest corner of the state. We arrived at 6pm at Onemile Creek with about an hour and a half of daylight left. Rulon fished up Onemile Creek and Mike and I went up into Sawmill Canyon and fished that portion of the creek.

Raft River Mountains

This was easily the smallest water I have ever fished (you can see how wide it is in the picture below). Casting was impossible and the only places that looked like they held fish were behind tree branches and roots. After about 1 hour of fishing frantically up and down the river I had not had so much as a strike and had only even seen one fish. I finally came to one hole where I could drop my fly down to the hole. On my first "cast" I pulled out a fish only to have it drop back into the river--rarely have I been so disappointed at losing a fish (especially one that was probably about 4 or 5 inches!) I fished up the creek for about 10 more minutes and scared some cows. I then returned to the same hole and tried again because I had still not found a place where I had a chance at a fish. I had 2 more strikes in quick succession but did not land the fish. I knew my best chance would be at this hole so I waited for a few minutes and tied on a renegade. The fish struck the renegade and I pulled the Yellowstone Cutthroat out of the hole.

Yellowstone Cutthroat

Unfortunately, Mike and Rulon did not land a fish at our last stop. Rulon did catch a fish that ended up being suspended in the branches of a tree before falling back into the creek. We headed back once we lost light and arrived back in Orem at 11:30.

Overall, this was a great fishing experience and I really enjoyed myself. This was a great excuse to go see a lot of Utah in a short time and road tripping with my colleagues was a lot of fun. It was also an unusually stressful fishing experience. In reality, it felt more like a road trip than a fishing trip since we were in the car for nearly 600 miles and 12 hours. I am very happy that Utah has invested in maintaining native Cutthroat trout species.

You can also see my fish at http://www.utahcutthroatslam.org/cutthroat-slam-success/ where I was the 80th person to complete the slam.